Cleo Wade, Artist


Welcome to our first installment of Top Shelf After Dark, a series focusing on the going out routines of some of the coolest girls we know, along with whatever makeup and hair they’re feeling that night. To kick things off, our pals at Smashbox sent along boatloads of makeup to experiment with, as one does in preparation for nighttime activities (low light, lower inhibition)—including their new shape-enhancing lip lacquer and forever-sharp liner. First up is artist Cleo Wade.

'I’m going to the premiere of Frank tonight. It’s a new Maggie Gyllenhall movie, and I’m really excited about it because I think it’s about a folk band or something of sorts. The invitation said that afterwards the whole cast is going to perform! I love folk music, so I’m freaking out.


Whenever I have a big night out, I try to give myself some time so I can relax beforehand. It’s really important for me to feel like I can chill out before I go somewhere with a ton of energy, especially in New York. I just had a bath for 30 minutes and I meditated. I usually like to read something calming, and I either have wine or do a chamomile mint tea to reset and replenish. A lot of people only chill on Sundays, whereas I need to have 30 minutes of just chilling every day because if not I feel so high strung.

I’ve been hanging onto my Blackberry, where all my work emails are isolated. Communication now is so everywhere—it used to be that once you were out of the office, if someone was calling your house phone from work it was an emergency. Now it’s like at what point do you stop working? It takes you out of the moment that you’re living, which is personal. I need that separation, and have to take the time out for a few minutes in a bath not thinking about my to-do list.


Even if just for your skin, it’s so good to have a bath before going out because of the nice steam. It makes your face so glow-y and soft. Afterwards I cover my face in vitamin E oil followed by aloe vera gel, which is what I use as a moisturizer. I don’t use any moisturizing products that aren’t oils or a gel.

I usually have a friend here to get ready with because it’s boring getting ready alone! My girlfriends and I turn it into a party. You always have to have a glass of wine, like a rosé. Berries are usually my go-to snack, and I’m obsessed with wasabi seaweed chips. I’ll basically eat anything that’s really, really, really spicy. I try not to eat anything crazy salty before I’m going to a premiere or something because all of the sudden you put on your dress and you’re swollen for some reason. Everything that’s in sushi gets bigger when it’s inside of you. And all the sodium from soy sauce makes your face so bloated.


Then I put on a record—right now it’s a doo-wop mix from the ‘50s. I like to listen to dance music from different eras because I feel that after I mellow out so hard with my bath and my chamomile tea, then if I listen to, like, Norah Jones it makes me feel like going to bed. But because I’m going to go be around people, I’ll listen to doo-wop or disco or David Bowie to wake me up. I’ve also been listening to Mahalia Jackson lately. She’s this really amazing bluesy gospel singer; her voice is insane. I like powerful voices, but then I also like pop. I love Katy Perry and I love hip hop—Nas and Jay Electronica. I always go back to the ‘50s because it was such an era of dance crazes. There were all these people who created songs that have dances that go with them. Which is kind of what they do now—Soulja Boy! Should we just start telling people Soulja Boy is so 1950s?


If I have something to do at night I put my hair in milk braids all day, and when it comes out it leave the funniest little curly crimp things. That’s my hair trick to really trap in the moisture. Curly hair is so dry and it gets so frizzy when it doesn’t have enough moisture, so the braids help it end up with a curl you did on purpose rather than a curl that’s a total mistake.


I feel like when you have an apartment this tiny, you have to be good about hanging your clothes up after you try on a bunch of outfits while figuring out what to wear. I’m a vintage hoarder, so there’s stuff everywhere, but it all gets put to good use! I have this philosophy that clothes are made to be lived in. There have been so many things I’ve done when what I was wearing was such an important part of how I enjoyed the experience. If you go out dancing and you have this amazing dress that twirls, it’s so fantastic. I get that people become attached to a really amazing piece and don’t want to ruin it, but I also think if that happens, it just wasn’t meant to be there for your whole life.

You have to more be experience-focused rather than material-focused. I have friends who are like, 'I can’t believe you lend your stuff out all the time' because I lend everything I have out to friends. And I have like some friends who ruin everything I let them borrow. [Laughs] People are like, 'Why do you keep lending her stuff?' And I say, 'Well, if you had to ask me, a thing is not more important than my best friend or my colleague…' So if I can preach that, I might as well keep living it.

Moschino sent me a dress to wear tonight. I love it so much. I was dying to wear it because I was obsessed over all the little peace signs in the pattern. Though I feel like it’s a little too dressy to wear to something downtown, so I’m going to make it casual and play around with some accessories… This guy who rides on a bicycle made of forks in New Orleans gave this bracelet to me—I’m going to wear it. It’s a fork made into a heart, holding a harmonica. And it’s inscribed with this crazy poem he wrote me. It’s really weird—it works, too! [blows into the harmonica] I’m constantly asking my friends, ‘Do you think I should wear a hat or no hat? Do you think it’s like a little too many accessories?’ I always feel like they seem like a good idea at the time... And is it rude to wear a hat to a movie theater? It feels rude.


Sometimes I’ll do a lip, and sometimes a lot of shadow, but the makeup depends ultimately on the outfit. Plus, tonight is sort of casual, so my makeup is a mix of neutrals—nothing fussy. The bronzer is nice, it doesn’t have huge flecks of shimmer, which I like [Halo Long Wear Blush in Bronze]. Then I did a bit of the green mixed with the taupe shade from the shadow trio in Quick Take—I like to stay in the browns, golds, greens, bronze color family—on the crease and lid, and just smushed the dark brown liner into the lash line [Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in Sumatra]. This kind of lip gloss is easy, I can eat in it, which is a plus [Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer in Coral].

I have this friend Devon, and her rule is always that you should look at yourself 10 feet from the mirror and squint, because that’s what you'll look like to everyone else. Nobody will even be looking at you so closely, and the person who is interested in inspecting every little thing about you, do you really care what they think? It’s so true. I feel like if you pass your own squint check, then you’re good.”

—as told to ITG

Cleo Wade wearing Smashbox Be Legendary Lip Lacquer in Coral and Always Sharp Lip Liner in Rosebud , photographed by Tom Newton in New York. This post is in collaboration with Smashbox.