As Creative Director at Lucky, Katia Kuethe happily glams it up during the work week, but for weekend getaways to Montauk she takes a less-is-more approach to dressing. Here, she talks to us about her after-sun face masks, her outfit for the train and her obsession with shopping for experimental beauty products on vacation. (Hey Katia, we’re guilty of that last one too!)
Where are you going on your summer holiday?
I will spend my short & long weekends (and any other time I get) in Montauk, in a mini cottage with a deck overlooking the lake.
What type of luggage will you bring?
Either a practical and small duffel bag from the army/navy store, or one of my beloved Starstyling Big Foil Square totes. I pack really light!
What type of carry-on bag are you bringing?
Usually I don’t even need a carry-on. I avoid any extra weight as I usually walk from the bus or train to the cottage—less is more in my case! I often pack a pouch with my personal effects and place it in my tote, that way I have a small bag to bring if I go out in the evening to dinner.
How would you describe your overall vacation style?
Super casual. I definitely don’t dress to impress while vacationing. I enjoy being lazy on the fashion front, but it’s chic basics all the time. I love that I get to read so many books and I’m a big fan of the very chic concept of “tanning in the shade”. Eating & drinking is also one of the best things to do on vacation. Breakfast burritos, carrot/apple/ginger juices (I spend a fortune at Joni’s every summer!), BBQ’ing, a day trip to the Fish Farm in Amagansett for the freshest seafood– those are the things make me feel vacationy. If I am with my 7-year-old son Paz, we go to the real beach for swimming or we rent bikes. I have taken him horseback riding, mini golfing, etc., and I am still awaiting the mom-of-the-year award or a medal! He unfortunately does not dig the “tanning in the shade” concept as much as I do.
What are you packing in your suitcase?
My day-to-day style is very “Glam Tomboy”. I do pay attention to my looks, but I’m also getting lazier and lazier! I’ve realized how expensive dry cleaning gets, so overall I’m looking to wear more machine-washable pieces. I am a very systematic packer: a striped Saint James longsleeve shirt, a pair of pale denim daisy-dukes from Levis, a pair of navy satin shorts from American Apparel, a grey marled legging for yoga & hanging out, a grey athletic Russell t-shirt, a pair of white Arizona Birkenstocks or black Tevas, a white Superga sneaker or Adidas Rod Laver, a pair of marled J.Crew camp socks for colder evenings on the deck, a navy A.P.C. Merino sweater, and always one dress—the one that I always go back to is a super short, white, long sleeve, cotton mini dress from A.P.C.—it’s one of my most beloved pieces in my wardrobe. The idea for me is that everything more or less has to work with everything else. I have learned my lesson over the years to NOT experiment on trips like this. I only bring what I know will work. I hate coming back to the city with a bag of unworn looks that I had to carry! For swimming & tanning, its a gold foil Greek triangle bikini from Charlie by Matthew Zink—it’s very 1970’s glam! I bring a denim bucket hat or a plain navy cotton snapback to protect my face from the sun while I am biking or hiking.
What beauty-essentials are you bringing?
I believe I have an addiction to White’s Pharmacy on Main Street. Every single weekend I’m there I seem to “forget” something essential, and then make excuses to go on a beauty shopping trip to town. It’s pretty ridiculous! I end up buying very “experimental” drugstore essentials—like a super dark Revlon lipstick—but everybody that knows me is aware of my signature super-clean makeup-free look! I think it’s all the personal time at my hands that makes me want to experiment . I sometimes fantasize about how different my life would be if I wore a bright orange lip with my white summer dress. These moments last for no longer than an hour, usually. What I do always bring is Natura Bisse tinted SPF 50, which I mix with a face oil like Rodin or Aesop. A clear brow mascara, a Shu Uemura eyelash curler, and a blush like Nars Multiple in Anguilla or Benefit Benetint cheek stain. In the summer I think a creamy texture works better than a powder for blush. Sometimes I bring a bronzer compact like Guerlain Terracotta. I also love the Living Luminizer highlighter from RMS Beauty—it looks super natural & sculpts the face nicely. For that dewy 70’s-look, I always bring a clear lip balm. I love the shine of something basic like Rodin Lip Balm. And I always have a transparent lipstick with me, like YSL Volupte Sheer Candy. Luckily I am surrounded by the whizzes of beauty; Eva Chen & Jean Godfrey-June. They have helped me massively over the years—I always love seeing their tips & tricks on Instagram!
I don’t bring shampoo. I go for the full ‘big hair & frizz’ effect at the beach, but in the city I am addicted to Purely Perfect Cleansing Cream, which is amazing & changes your hair to the very best it can be. I also always bring one or two masks with me. I like putting on a mud mask after a day on the beach and I love taking a cat-nap in the sun with an SK–II Facial Treatment mask (the ones that make you look like Hannibal Lecter!). I put them in the freezer before I put them on.
I am a real fragrance junkie in the city, but at the beach I can go without it. I just use more of my Weleda deodorant in citrus and that does the trick. For my body I like to use a spray-on sunscreen. I love the one from La Roche-Posay Anthelios—it’s the best and it looks very chic. I designed a lot of fragrance bottles and cosmetics packaging in my early career in New York, so for me the visual is super important. If a really great product is just too ugly then I will refill it into one of those mini containers— just so my sensitive eyes don’t get harmed! Last year I got so very hooked on the scent of a specific Kiehls Coriander shower gel, that I brought a mini of that to the beach. It sounds kind of pretentious, so this year I will just use what they have in the cottage.
Nail polish color you’ll wear?
I go clean & short!
Book you’ll bring?
I am still on a Martin Suter & Philippe Djian binge – I can’t stop until I’ve read every single book!
What’s your outfit for the train?
For work I spend enough time on planes that I am happy to “only” go on a bus or train to Montauk. Denim on denim works best as I can ‘recycle’ both after a wash-&-wear with the other 6 pieces I bring. I am good at mixing & matching a minimal wardrobe.
What’s the one item you never travel without?
A credit card!
One surprising thing you always pack?
As practical and organized of a packer as I am, I also love bringing one ‘outrageous’ item. This year it will be my new sequined Ashish plaid shirt. It’s so Glam Normcore—think Kurt Cobain on Acid—and it will just leave people SPEECHLESS! The sequins are so blindingly bright, and I imagine with a white Birkenstock and a pair of Daisy-Duke shorts that this could really be a really great streetstyle moment.
Do you have any packing tips?
Less is more! Pack pieces that work with everything else you bring! Take only the things you love to wear and that you know flatter you the best. Always bring a pair of open-toe shoes as well as a sneaker, and usually an elegant shoe option as well. Do not be that woman who hobbles on a wooden heeled mule in a pink tracksuit through the airport with a too heavy carry–on bag. Be the most chic & sophisticated traveler you can be. I also always bring all my travel details and itinerary printed out on paper, just in case something happens to my precious phone.
Katia Kuethe photographed in Montauk.