MODEL, OFF DUTY
A Q+A with one of the Internet’s favorite off duty models, Natalie Suarez.
Natalie Suarez is quite the multi-tasker. Whether she’s modeling, collaborating with brands and designers, jetsetting between coasts, or you know, updating her highly followed blog, Natalie Off Duty, this girl is always doing something. The L.A.-bred-New-York-transplant posts photo stories of her bohemian, “model off duty” style on her blog, chock full of vintage gems and inspiring combinations. Natalie shared with us some essential blogging advice and thrifting secrets, what she really thinks of both NYC and L.A., and the details of her exciting shoe collaboration with her blogger sister, Dylana of Color Me Nana. — Jenna Igneri
SHK: You balance running one of the most popular fashion blogs of the moment with a modeling career — when you finally get some free time, what would we find you doing?
NATALIE SUAREZ: I have definitely learned to find balance in my life. I love to come home after a long day and unwind with my guitar, or take my bike out for a spin to the park. When I’m feeling like going out, I like to do something crazy… like go to a rock concert. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to find me in between appointments at a little cafe in the village with friends.
What inspired you to start a blog in the first place?
I’ve been modeling since my early teens and so I was already so surrounded by fashion. By working with so many different looks, brands and styles at shoots, I figured out what I loved and what I didn’t. I was very into vintage, and I hated looking like anyone else. Especially as a model, it’s important to stand out from the pack. I started my blog as a way to be different and use that as my creative outlet. I did love that effortless, “model off duty” style and so I called it “Natalie Off Duty.” It just stuck and was perfect. I had so many different interests growing up that I just needed a way to put it out there, and in one place. My blog has allowed me to share all the other things I’m also passionate about, like design and music. I didn’t want to be just any other model… There was so much more I wanted to share.
After growing up in L.A., you recently relocated to New York. Both cities are incredible, but very, very different. What are your thoughts on the move?
Both cities are completely different, but I love them both equally. Growing up in L.A. was amazing. The beach, the calmness and the open-ness was liberating. Growing up, I was always outside. Moving to NYC was definitely a big change, but it may have been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was definitely hard transitioning to a new lifestyle, especially in the heat of the summer, but there’s just so much I love about NYC that it was worth all the changes. NYC has this charm. There’s so much creativity floating about and you never know who you’re going to run into or meet. I love that. It’s crazy how work brought me here. Never did I ever think I’d be in NYC. But I also love knowing that L.A. is a place I can also call home. I really do need both in my life. The laid back vibes of Los Angeles, and the craziness of NYC.
You wear a lot of vintage pieces on your blog. Share some of your thrifting secrets with us! Any hidden gems in New York or L.A.?
I got really into vintage back in Los Angeles. Believe it or not, I found all of my favorite pieces at estate sales. I’d get up super early and we’d go out to estate sales on a thrift hunt! It’s amazing. We’d go to homes on the west side, picking through some of the most amazing closets I’ve ever seen. Every once in a while you’ll really score. I’ve found so many incredible blazers and coats that I can only wear here on the East Coast. Here In NYC, my favorite little shop is Village Style in the East Village. It’s my favorite place to go with friends… and I always leave with a cute little dress of some kind.
What (or who) inspires you the most when it comes to fashion and dressing yourself every day?
My sister has always been my main inspiration. She’s also my best friend. She’s always been a style daredevil growing up, and so I’ve learned a lot from her. We both have very similar style. We’re both a bit bohemian, yet we’re still a bit rock n’ roll. If we could share closets, I think we would. Anyways, I never think too much about what I want to wear. I’ve recently downsized my wardrobe to pieces that can kind of all be mixed and matched, yet I still think I have too many clothes, but a must for me is boots or flats… I do too much walking in NYC!
This awfully hot New York summer is finally coming to an end — what fall trend will we be seeing you rocking the most?
Hats. I am obsessed with hats. My hair gets really crazy in this east coast weather so they’re kind of a must.
With Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week just ending, I’m sure you’ve gone to a ton of shows and presentations. Who were you most impressed with this season?
This fashion week, I actually didn’t go as crazy as I have in the past. I really went to all the shows I wanted to go to and spent the rest of my time meeting up with friends in town from all over the world. It really made the whole fashion week so much more enjoyable! I was so in love with Rebecca Minkoff’s show. It had a youthful, rebellious vibe that I loved, but it was also fresh and pretty. The perfect combination. Plus, there’s nothing better than a show with live music.
More so, who had the best party?!
That’s a hard one! I think I had the best time at the Nasty Gal party. Blood Orange was the guest performer and just getting to be so close to him when he’s playing his guitar was amazing! He’s a god.
With the Internet becoming almost overpopulated with new fashion bloggers, it takes a lot to really stand out. What advice would you give to those wanting to start a fashion blog? Would you say it’s almost “too late in the game” to hop on board?
I definitely don’t think it’s too late to start a blog, but I agree, there is so much going on out there. I think to be successful with it, you have to just be your own person and just be completely real. There’s no point in trying to be like another blogger, because honestly, everyone is different and everyone has their own unique talents. The blog should be a fun way to show what you love and share something with others.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any exciting projects coming up?
Yes, I have many exciting projects coming up in the future. One of my most exciting projects is representing DKNY fragrances. With the brand, I’ll also be working on music and getting back into singing. It’s just something I’ve been waiting to do all this time, but just now has the perfect opportunity come to me. I have also been working closely with my sister, Dylana Suarez, at the Modern Vice shoe factory on making a line of shoes, right here in NYC. We just released our must-have boot, the JETT, and we have more shoes to be released this year. Things happen so unexpected. I never would have thought I’d be where I am now, doing what I love the most. [Image via Natalie Off Duty.]
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