September 27, 2023


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How I Shop: Shopbop’s Caroline Maguire

The fashion director and self-described “impulsive shopper” tells us about her go-to brands, current obsessions and more.

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what’s “you”? These are some of the questions we’re putting to prominent figures in our column “How I Shop.”

Caroline Maguire has a secret for finding the best new thing on Shopbop.

“We launch brand new products, five days a week, Monday through Friday, at 7:18 a.m,” the e-commerce site’s fashion director tells Fashionista. “Five years in, and I’m still stalking the site every morning.”

Maguire is a “true Shopbopper,” she says, logging in dutifully every morning to scope out the new arrivals — for her own personal wardrobe (which she documents on her Instagram, @carolineinnycity) but also to see the pieces and brands she and her team started talking about months earlier: “Like, ‘Oh my goodness, it finally hit. I remember that was so long ago, and we’re already on to the next.'”

Naturally, Maguire draws a lot of inspiration from her work. Ultimately, what she loves about her job is “making fashion super fun and spirited and inspiring again,” through brand discovery, styling and themed capsule drops. (The site recently launched a gingham edit, and will soon release a polka dot one.) She’s constantly on the look-out for designers to bring onto Shopbop’s already-extensive roster and to her own closet. Ahead, we talked to Maguire about her love of trends and big dresses, the labels she can’t get enough of and more.

“My personal style is very trend-driven. It’s very bold and dramatic at times. I’ve been a mom for the past eight years, so it’s kind of shifted — before it was all about the high heels, the short miniskirt, and now it’s more about comfort-chic, daring but I think more accessible, still trend-driven items.

“I’ve been a fashion director for quite some time, but I’ve been at Shopbop for the past five years. [I found my style] when I was entering adulthood and felt so much more mature and comfortable in my own fashion, in mixing things and going out of what’s ‘normal.’ I want to step outside the norm… I know our customers look to us for trends, so [the job is] almost like being that inspiration and guiding them on how to mix and match. That’s kind of where I’ve felt most at ease and in my own skin, because our brand screams trend and novelty and fun. I’m definitely up in my element right now.

“I go towards voluminous shapes. Kika Vargas is a big Colombian designer on our site and it’s all about this bubble shape — voluminous dresses and tops with the matching short. It’s more of this statement, novelty dressing. I have this amazing Sika dress. It’s from this amazing designer from the U.K., Phyllis Taylor. Her prints are just outstanding. I think these types of statement pieces really give me that inspiration and set the tone for my aesthetic.

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“There are no dividing lines between my personal style and my work style. I am who I am. I dress for the day, the event or the vacation that I’m prepping for. It’s really about, again, the trend I’m getting a lot of inspiration on. [That can come] from my kids — it’s crazy, color is such a big thing. My son is really, really obsessed with green right now and it’s such a color we’re seeing for the resort market. It’s that idea like, ‘Oh, he’s really into lemon-y or butterfly-green’ and he’s wearing green all the time, and I’m like, ‘I need to buy more green. I’m feeling green in this because I see it.’

“I do think the world of social media has changed so much of how you’re discovering newness. It’s part of my job, obviously, to find newness, but it’s such a fun part of it, too. I love the discovery part — ‘Oh my goodness, who is this influencer or this brand ambassador wearing right now?’ And I’m looking at it and clicking in, ‘Oh, it’s this brand, Studio 189, and I hadn’t heard about it.’ You’re literally going down this rabbit hole. I love that investigative part, where you’re scouting the newness and seeing where it’s housed, who carries it and who’s wearing it.

“The best part of the discovery for Shopbop is that we tend to find brands that are not so mass distributed amongst our competitors within the States. Discovery is a big brand pillar for us, so it’s day-to-day. Even for my own wardrobe, when I’m shopping [I do this] — I’m actually wearing this really cool jewelry designer that I f
ound that we’re now going to carry. It’s one of those things where I’m shopping for myself, but it’s also a big part of the brand.

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“It’s pretty consistent [the brands I find for myself versus for work], I would say, because I’m searching for trend, for fashion, for up-and-coming for myself, because that’s just my personal taste. For the brand, I do think sometimes, ‘Will this fit our customer knowing what our customer comes to us for? Yes.’ Then I’ll pass it on to the buyers and we’ll sometimes have a debate or discussion, but oftentimes they’re super in sync with the vision of Shopbop from a fashion point of view. It’s a brilliant marriage between us.

“[Brands I’ve recently discovered] Studio 189, we had a lovely conversation with Abrima [Erwiah] on it and we’re excited [to launch the brand on Shopbop]. Another one is Avavav, which is a great Italian designer brand — puffy sleeve, exciting details, dramatic dressing. Andersson Bell, which would be new for us; I know some retailers have it, but not in a major way. I think that will do super, super well for us. Ieki Ienki, which is an outerwear brand that’s coming soon.

“I’m definitely an online shopper and I’m an impulsive shopper. There are boxes in my house every day. My husband just get so excited if there’s just a package for him. I go to the store if it’s for food shopping, but everything I buy is online right now. I would say tried-and-true brands that I always go to: Acne Studios for easy tees and sneakers; Ganni, that’s kind of a no-brainer; Aje for pretty easy dresses; Maison Irem jewelry from Paris, she’s like an easy friendship bracelet, tack-on jewelry idea; Moussy denim.

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“It’s such an easy tote moment for me because I’m still working from home, so if I do a pickup or drop off with the kids or I run an errand… I personally love mini bags, but right now, it’s just about an easy tote for me. And I feel like it has been, and it will be for summer. We have some great totes from Arizona Love and just from our designer mix, I have a great Marni one. But I’m getting ready for fall and I’m on the hunt for some new ones. I’ve always been a sucker for bucket shapes. I love a good bucket bag, because that in itself is a tote; the bigger ones, you can just toss everything in. There are so many different ways on a good bucket bag.

“I’m definitely a sneaker sneaker girl. I like wearing my Converse high-tops with big dresses. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. I have switched out a lot of heels — they’re still in the closet, but they’re kind of towards the back. I think I’ll pull them out come November because we’re all about fun dressing for that quarter. Right now, I’m about platforms. One of my favorites we just launched is Larroude; the Cali is my favorite because it’s comfortable and it’s chic, so you still look pulled-together if you have on cool, casual bottoms and an easy T-shirt. Rachel Comey has really cool clogs, just flat, easy yet trend-driven.

“[The last thing I impulse-bought] was this beautiful Kika Vargas dress, the Greta. I bought this Ganni dress, which we’re really excited about it — it’s part of an exclusive capsule that hasn’t launched yet. Phillip Lim, Jacquemus, Rodarte, ASHYA… The kind of item where we saw it in market seven months ago and you’re obsessed with it now.

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“I do feel if you’re still yearning for it, then buy it before it gets sold out, because things get sold out very quickly on our site, which is a good thing. But also, I think what drives me to actually purchase is the idea of like, this Phillip Lim polka dot top I just bought — it’s just an easy T-shirt, but it has black dots on it and I can wear this several different ways, with a dress, with denim, with a skirt… I’m already thinking, when am I going to wear this? The Kika Vargas dress, I’m going to bring to California with me next month and I can wear this on a date night here. There has to be kind of event or outdoor dining that I’m going to that I’m going to be like, ‘I’m going to wear this, this is why I’m buying.’ It’s that impulsive. I kind of play it in my head, justifying why.

“This is how I like to believe that our customer is shopping. She’s shopping our true Designer Boutique, but then she’s picking up like easy knickknacks, like Rosie Assoulin summer bracelets, and then she’s like, ‘Oh, I need that Marni tote bag because I just want a very sophisticated, chic bag that I can maybe bring every day in, day out.’ It’s that mix and matching that I love, and I think our customer loves, too.

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“Summer, by far the number one [trend] is a cool denim short. Some people just don’t understand or they don’t want to wear it or they’re like, ‘I already have some.’ But there are cooler ones, newer ones now with longer lengths. I’m really into the longer, knee-length ones. You could do it yourself or you can buy them on site, which we have. The different washes on denim I think are so fun. They go with everything, like swim — they’re great swim cover-ups.

“I’m all about coverage these days in swimwear, so I love like a high-waisted two-piece. It’s that retro idea that’s still trending in the market. And just solid colors or prints and a breezy, tent-y, voluminous dress for summer. We’re doing so well with that category right now. We’re still looking for newness, but I think an easy summer dress is what everybody is wanting right now. I actually ended up getting the lime green Christopher Rogers for Target tier dress — it’s like an apron style with the bows. It’s cute. It’s big on me, but I’m like, ‘I don’t care. I’m keeping it.’

“The idea of getting dressed, I always say just have fun with it. I mean, it’s clothing. I live and breathe retail. I love the industry. I love what I do. I love the people I work with. It’s just, when you’re thinking of your closet and about getting dressed daily, have fun with it. I think people tend to steer towards the more serious, the ‘fashion should be serious and elevated,’ which I appreciate, but what everyone is needing now is the sense of novelty, that fun spirit that sometimes is lacking.

“We show [fashion] in such a youthful, but spirited way, where sometimes it may not be for all, but you can pick apart some of the outfits and say, ‘Actually I can do that platform.’ Or, ‘Oh my gosh, I do love the Ganni dress, but I don’t think I can style it with the tee because that might be a little too casual for me.’ Just taking pieces and having fun with it. And having color — I think that would bring you joy and that’s what we need now.”

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