Julie Carlson & Darcy Groves

Julie Carlson is the founder and editor-in-chief of online architecture and interiors magazine Remodelista. As a true doyenne of design, Julie’s family home in Mill Valley, a fifteen minute drive north of San Francisco, California, is both polished and personal, with a matched sensibility to her own personal style.
Her 17-year-old daughter, Darcy Groves, is design-minded in her own right (she spent last summer studying fashion at Central Saint Martins) and in recent months, has recycled a set of borrowed favorites from her mother’s closet, styling them anew. We visited the mother-daughter duo at home to talk about self image, daily routines, and intergenerational style.

On beauty, style, self image:
What are your signature clothing pieces?
Julie: I’ve been wearing cotton shifts and dresses from Sofie d’Hoore and Margaret Howell for the last few years (with tights in the winter); my latest obsession is pair of clogs from Comme des Garçons.
Darcy: Probably my vintage navy blue Osh Kosh corduroy overalls and a striped Agnes b. shirt that belonged to my grandmother.
What one piece of clothing do you own that makes you feel most confident and at ease?
Julie: I love shirt dresses; they’re comfortable and easy to wear.
Darcy: Either my overalls or a long cream-colored dress that’s printed with watercolors of potted plants that I got at the Goodwill.
What colors do you wear most often?
Julie: Navy, black, white, indigo. Darcy: Gray, black, navy and brown. What is your favorite texture in a piece of clothing? Julie: A really great high-quality crisp cotton poplin.
Darcy: I love the feeling of an old cotton button-down, or the way a linen dress feels when you first put it on.
Do you wear a fragrance? If so, what?
Julie: I love Eau Illumine by SF perfumer DelRae Illuminee; several of us at Remodelista wear it. It’s grownup without being too “perfumey.”
Darcy: I wear perfume, but only a really small spritz on the wrists. I wear CB I Hate Perfume in Russian Caravan Tea, which I like because it doesn’t really smell like perfume.
Can you share a beauty-related indulgence?
Julie: I can’t resist a good lipstick; my current favorite is Dantrice from Kevyn Aucoin; it’s a deep dark plum and it smells like roses. I never thought of myself as a big organic skin care person until I discovered True Nature botanicals, which happens to be based in Mill Valley (I especially like their Balancing Face Oil).
Darcy: I use Clinique's Moisture + Face moisturizer, which I really like. It’s sort of a gel, which is great for California weather. Not too heavy.
What are your spring essentials?
Julie: Even if it’s warm I always carry a cardigan in case the temperature drops (I hate being cold). I have a great Apiece Apart white woven cotton top from a couple seasons ago that I wear instead of a T-shirt with jeans when the weather gets warmer. I love flat sandals, too. And sunglasses, of course; I wear a simple retro shape from Moscot.
Darcy: A white cotton shirtdress that used to be my mom’s and a pair of black leather Avarca sandals.
How do you want to be seen by others?
Julie: Stylish but not “fashion-y.” I wouldn’t mind being mistaken for an architect.
Darcy: I think laid back. Easier said than done.
Do you have a color, a look, or point of inspiration that you’ve always wanted to try on for size?
Julie: I’ve always loved the bohemian Dries van Noten look; the mix of color and pattern and the occasional sprinkle of sequins, but I’ve never really given it a go. I can’t seem to shake the book publisher/architect/editor look. Might be something to save for my later years, as an aging bohemian cocktail partygoer.
Darcy: I’d like to try red. I don’t really own anything that's red, and I think it’s such a powerful color.



Julie, on daughters who dress like their mothers:
When looking back at your mother’s style, are there any elements that you find yourself integrating into your style today?
My mother had great style and she made a point of buying clothes whenever she was in Europe: I still have a chic tweed suit she had made in Paris and an Ines de la Fressange jacket. I do the same; some of my favorite wardrobe pieces I bought in London or in Paris. She wasn't into diamonds or precious jewelry, and neither am I. A pair of Ted Muehling earrings and his Rice necklace and I'm done. She definitely had an off-duty uniform: either a striped boat top from Agnes B. or a button-down striped Marimekko shirt with black pants. (Darcy actually has a stack of her Agnes B. striped tops that she wears all the time.) I strive to achieve that uniform ease, too.
Do you have a favorite heirloom of hers?
My favorite heirloom piece is her swoopy Marimekko long party dress in a swirly brown and black pattern with big pale pink dots; she wore it to cocktail parties in Wellfleet all summer.
Darcy, on borrowing from the closet:
Was there a point where you were less interested in dressing like your mom—seeing yourself as really different stylistically? If so, when do you think that started to change?
As a kid, all I wanted was to dress like Hannah Montana. And in middle school, I was actually very into dressing as differently from my mom as I possibly could—I wore a lot of Abercrombie & Fitch. I think now that I’m older I see clothes less as items meant to flatter and more as an art form.
What are some of the first pieces of clothing or accessories you borrowed from your mom's closet (and do you have a current favorite)?
I'm wearing a lot of my mom's old clothes from when she lived in New York and when she worked in SF; I've learned to appreciate what makes things classic: great fabric, good workmanship and cut. One piece that my mom gave me that I love is a brown, silk Erica Tanov dress with puffy sleeves and a beautiful floral print. Whenever I wear it I feel so elegant. There’s just something about the way that silk moves that’s really mesmerizing.
Do you like the idea of dressing in vintage or vintage-inspired designs? Do you have a favorite era for clothing, current or past?
I do like vintage clothing—it just took a while for me to warm up to it for some reason. I think it’s really great from an environmental standpoint. My favorite era for vintage is the seventies; I recently got this great suede fringed jacket from a vintage store in New York City, which I really like. I’m sort of scared to wear it, since it’s a pretty big “statement piece," but I’ll do it someday.



On shared inspiration:
Julie, what is your favorite piece of clothing, an accessory, or a look that Darcy wears?
I love it when Darcy mixes in pieces from my wardrobe archives with her own clothes; it's so gratifying to see bits from my past getting a second life. She wears a little moss green wool cardigan of mine with a navy blue short dress from Madewell, paired with patent leather Martin Margiela boots (bought at deep discount in SF). Perfection! 
Darcy, what is your favorite piece of clothing, an accessory, or a look that Julie wears?
I think my mom’s style is effortless. I know she wouldn’t want me to say this, but I think the way she dresses when she’s “off,” with old jeans and a button-down shirt, is great. I also love her navy blue wool Sofie D’Hoore coat. It’s structured and interesting to look at.
On daily life, San Francisco, routines:
What hour of the day feels most “yours?”
Julie: Probably late afternoon. We get a lot of slanting sunlight in the house at that time of day; everything is illuminated by this enchanting California light.
Darcy: Probably late afternoon, when I’m walking home from the bus, because it’s sort of an in-between time. I don’t have to do anything besides listen to music and walk, which is nice.
Where do you go to find quiet and be alone? What makes this place special?
Julie: The landscape in Mill Valley is beautiful; I like to take walks and hikes in the surrounding hills. In spring the streams are flowing and the waterfalls are running and everything smells like eucalyptus and redwood. And it's all within a quick walk from the center of town.
Darcy: Definitely my room. I have two big windows that look out to the garden, which I find to be very peaceful.
What do you eat for lunch?
Julie: On a perfect day, roast chicken at Zuni Cafe.
Darcy: My high school has pretty good, healthy food (think: lentil loaf). When I'm not at school, I like to eat Indian food from Punjabi, a restaurant in downtown Mill Valley.
What are your favorite neighborhood spots?
Julie: Beerworks in downtown Mill Valley; a bit of Brooklyn in Marin County.
Darcy: We have a new shop in Mill Valley called Guideboat, which I love. The clothes are well made and comfortable with a distinctly Pacific Northwest quality.
Do you have a current favorite home object or piece of furniture—from your home, or Darcy, from your own space?
Julie: We bought an Eames leather lounge chair recently; most comfortable chair ever. Plus, due to its associations, you feel like you're undergoing free psychotherapy when you sit in it.
Darcy: I have a big fluffy gray sheepskin rug that I love.




What are you reading right now?
Julie: I just finished The Unspeakable, Meghan Daum's book of essays; highly recommended. My current favorite coffee table book is Down the Long Driveway You'll See It, a book of architectural interiors photos by New Zealand based Mary Gaudin.
Darcy: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Julie, what are five things you are currently most interested in?
1) Japanese design (from architecture to ordinary household objects to Rintaro, a new restaurant in SF). 2) The work of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. 3) Berlin; I'm taking my first trip there in June. 4) Top of the Lake, the New Zealand series by Jane Campion. 5) Anything British designer Faye Toogood does, including her line of unisex outerwear called Toogood, a collaboration with her sister.
Darcy, what are five things you are currently most interested in?
1) Egon Schiele. 2) The history of women's collectives in Chicago. 3) Ramen Shop in Oakland. 4) Early 1990s Comme des Garçons. 5) Finding a good pair of high-waisted jeans (like the ones Rachel from Friends wore).



Photography by LESLIE WILLIAMSON | Interview by ALEXA HOTZ