My Uniform: Rachel DeLoache Williams, author of "My Friend Anna"Share
"If you find yourself making excuses for the same person again and again, it’s time to step back from that relationship," says Rachel about what she's learned in hindsight from her former friendship with con artist Anna Delvey.
This ex-Vanity Fair photo editor and author (her first book My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress is out right now) doesn’t have a typical career trajectory. In fact, the events that led her to publish a book are events she wished never happened at all: She befriended a “wealthy German heiress,” Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin) in 2016 who proceeded to con her out of $62,000+.
ON HER CHILDHOOD STYLE
I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee and both of my parents are clinical psychologists. My mom, who knows how to sew and tailors her own clothes, always gravitated towards good tailoring. I think that’s how I developed a love of good lines. She taught me how to sew, too, when I was in elementary school. In college, I made Halloween costumes for my friends—a really good Romy & Michele comes to mind—and I still tailor my own clothes (unless an alteration is too complicated, in which case I save it for my mom!). Knoxville, during my childhood, was preppy: Khakis, pearls, denim, J.Crew and Gap. Then I went to Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio, and most of my friends there were from bigger cities, like LA and New York. We all went through a boots and flannel phase, lots of American Apparel, too.
ON “INTERNSHIP” STYLE
In the summers I would intern in New York City and I enjoyed finding things to wear from online sales, T.J. Maxx, and in thrift stores—sometimes I’d even wear shift dresses that I’d sewn myself. I remember interviewing for my internship at Art + Commerce, which represented all the big photographers, and I was so nervous I could barely speak! I wore black high-waisted dress pants with heels from Nine West. They were some of the first high-heels I owned (we never wore shoes like that in Ohio, it was too snowy!) but that summer I wore them all the time. Remember those Chan Luu bracelets that were so popular? I wanted one but didn’t want to spend the money so I figured out how to make my own. I’ve always been pretty good at DIY’ing.
ON FINDING HER STYLE AS AN EDITOR AT VANITY FAIR
When I was a photo editor at Vanity Fair, I was assisting and producing shoots, which was inspiring for so many different reasons—but in terms of my personal style I was always more inspired by how people dressed in the office. Everyone was very professional, chic and put-together. Because my job was often on set, I was usually discreetly dressed in all black and comfortable shoes. I think it was there that I really learned how to wear basics. Chore coats with lots of pockets are always useful and stylish as are white collared shirts.
ON THE BIGGEST LESSON SHE LEARNED AFTER BEING CONNED BY A FRIEND
If you find yourself making excuses for the same person again and again, it’s time to step back from that relationship. I am lucky to have many positive and healthy relationships in my life—relationships that gave me an idealized view of the trust and commitment that goes into a friendship. Believing that Anna was my friend, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I excused and rationalized behavior that was out of keeping with my values (rudeness and entitlement, for example) because I had categorized her as my friend. But when people show you who they are through their actions, pay attention—believe them.
3 THINGS WITH RACHEL DELOACHE WILLIAMS
3 words that your real friends ;) would use to describe your style:
Tailored, feminine, classic. [Ed note: Rachel actually went ahead and asked them.]
3 things always on you:
A signet ring that my parents gave me for my 30th birthday, a lip color (lately it’s Tom Ford lip vinyl in “Insinuate”), and a tote bag to carry my essentials (a book and my camera).
Your uniform, in 3 pieces:
If I’m going out: Silk blouse, skinny pants, nude heels
If I’m staying in: Boxy sweater, blue jeans, pearls
Anywhere else: Sundress, sandals, tote bag
3 professions you’d pursue if not for your current occupation:
FBI agent, preschool teacher, artist
Thank you, Rachel!
As told to AM August 20th, 2019