I first discovered Jodi Levine through the pages of Martha Stewart Living, where she was the crafts editor for almost two decades. In addition to being one of the nicest, most creative people I know (check out her website Supermakeit), the author is also the most stylish — it’s impossible to run into her without asking “Where did you find that fill-in-the-blank?” And invariably, the answer is Old Navy, Target or Uniqlo. Here, the mother of two boys talks about creating original looks from larger stores…
“This pinafore was such a score, especially since it has pockets, which I always look for — I like to have my scissors easily accessible when I’m working. In general, I am a huge fan of jumpsuits and dresses. I love the comfort and how half the thinking is already done for you. This one is from Target. You can find interesting designer collaborations there, and I make a point to visit around holidays, when it feels like they’re pushing more creatively with prints and design.”
“When my son Lionel was young, like really young and could barely string sentences together, he asked me out of nowhere, ‘Mommy, why you always say oh maybe when someone says they like your shirt?’ I said ‘I don’t know, honey, I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.’ Then soon after, I was out and somebody complimented me on what I was wearing and of course, I was like, ‘TEN DOLLARS OLD NAVY!’ and it all clicked. Just goes to show you how much ‘oh maybe’ I wear.”
“I stand up at work all day, so comfy shoes are a must. These Nikes feel elegant and give me a little lift. The vest was my grandma’s. She lived in a super drafty old Brooklyn apartment and wore vests that she knitted herself to keep warm. She made this one from the tiny balls of leftover yarn she had from knitting things for other people, so the stripe design is literally created by her selflessness. I inherited the vest in the 90s when she passed away, and now I use it for the same purpose, when I’m working in my drafty attic studio. I always think of Grandma when I wear it.”
“If there’s a common thread running through Supermakeit, and the rest of my work, it’s use what you have, which is exactly what I did as a kid. We didn’t have stores like Michaels back then, so I used to create things out of cardboard boxes. It still makes my heart race to walk by a recycling bin to see what’s in there. One of my favorite jobs these days is working for the New York Times for Kids, a special section that appears in print on the last Sunday of every month. I love everything about it — the art direction, the concept, everything. The stuff I do for them is illustrative of how wacky my work is in general. Last fall, I came up with a bunch of Halloween costumes. I never know what I’m going to be working on from one day to the next, and I love that.”
“I bought this shirt at a flea market about 20 years ago and wore it through both of my pregnancies until I split the sides, and had to sew it closed. When I shop at flea markets, I try to look at the potential of clothes. The whole idea of what else can it be besides what it is definitely informs what I wear. I found one of my favorite tops at a flea market for $1, and it had these ugly puffy sleeves that I just cut right off. There are things you can do, even if you’re not an expert seamstress, and I’m definitely not.”
“I often decommission a ‘fancy’ dress into an everyday one after few ‘fancy wears.’ This jacket is from Uniqlo’s +J line, designed by Jil Sander a few years ago. Uniqlo does amazing collaborations, and not just with designers but with fine artists, like Kaws, who did the coolest Uniqlo-Sesame Street collection that my son loves.”
Thank you so much, Jodi. See you at Oh Maybe!