Kathleen Alcott, Writer


"I'm a novelist, primarily. My second book, Infinite Home, came out in paperback this past July, and that’s about just a hapless group of tenants who are fighting to save a building when their landlord’s mind starts to go. My parents were writers, too—they met at the Oakland Tribune, and they did have quite an influence on me. My father was ridiculous, he would make me memorize words from the dictionary when I was a kid. My mom wrote for a long time, but later on switched to social work. She was very beautiful—she was a model in New York in the '70s, and very glamorous in spirit—the only person in a small town wearing a cape. So I thought about fashion a lot growing up.

When I was a teenager, I liked a lot of films and music from the '60s and '70s, and I've always been very into thrifting. I had a lot of vintage sheepskin leather jackets from the '70s that were very noticeable. Now, and I think this happens with women as they age, I'm a little OK with being more anonymous. I'm OK with beige now in a way that I probably wasn't OK with when I was 22. Circumstances change—we're always kind of adjusting.

However, I've been wearing my eyeliner this way since I was 16, and I don't think I'll ever stop. Probably. Hopefully! The one I use is Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner. It's completely worn but it's only two months old, I use it every day. You can tell if I’m procrastinating if I have eyeliner on when I’m writing... That means that I got up and wasted some time in the mirror. I wear mascara too—right now mine is Make Up For Ever, it just works and it doesn't seem to smear. I used to wear whatever, but I was always laughing so hard that it would smear, and whoever I'd be with would be like, 'What is on your face?' Finally my best friend told me, 'You just have to go to a Sephora.' So she took me and now it's gotten a little less crazy. I also have this Josie Maran Cheek Gelée in Poppy Paradise—the color is very slight. That's basically for if it's winter and I look incredibly pale.

The other thing I wear every day is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 85—sunscreen and eyeliner, that's mostly my beauty routine. In the morning I put on the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado because a friend recommended it, but also because I love avocados. At night I wash my face with Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk which I find very soothing. I was on a date with a guy once and he was like, 'What does your face smell like? It reminds me of my childhood.' Which I think means that it reminds him of some evil aunt? I think it does smell like old ladies, but I love the way it makes my skin feel. I have Avène's Eau Thermale for toner, and I also use their Antirougeurs Soothing Cream for anti-redness. I'm Irish, I laugh very hard, and I get rosy-cheeked a little too quickly. Otherwise I take Wild Alaskan Omega Vitamins, they're supposed to do great things for your skin. A very handsome friend recommended them to me and now I’m starting to take them.

This is an odd thing to bring up, but I put Herb Pharm Peppermint Spirits in all of the water I drink. It just makes me feel slightly more energetic. Sometimes I go through phases where I take multivitamins, but I'm not as strict about it as I should be. I just go running and I do yoga. The culture can be really obnoxious, but I think that there is a lot of it that works against the more stubborn parts of myself. It’s just very good to me to know that I'm gonna stand on one foot with another foot behind you—which seems impossible for a minute—and it works really well in conjunction with running. It’s just proven that long distance running helps you think better, so running helps my brain. And yoga helps me not snap at the person in front me in line.

For my hair, I've been pretty loyal to Bumble and bumble's Seaweed Shampoo and Conditioner. I find that a lot of shampoos and conditioners do great things to your hair the first week of using them, and then the effects seem to wear off—I don't know why—but those are pretty reliable and they make my hair dry really nicely. I don't use any styling products... I just let my hair get kind of fucked up when I sleep and that's what it looks like. I wake up and look like I had a weird day at the ocean, which is how I mostly feel about my life."

—as told to ITG

Kathleen Alcott photographed by Tom Newton in New York on August 1, 2016.