The Insider: Julia Rubin

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There’s no one we like bumping into on the street more than Julia Rubin. No, really—the whip-smart TeenVogue.com editor always has a smile on her face and a stellar ensemble on her person. A sweatshirt and a vintage mink? WHY NOT. Get the scoop on all that (and why J. Biebs might be her style icon) below. carlye wisel

Q: Is there anything that totally blows you away about teenagers these days?
A: I think the one thing we’ve all been whoa-ed about is what teenage fandom has become. When we were teens, which was not that long ago, you had posters in your bedroom and you had all the magazines and you’d read all about them, and but it wasn’t a public thing. Now, seeing the way girls and guys react to when we put someone from One Direction or Justin Bieber on the cover—the stuff these fans tweet and comment is just, like, insane. They feel a connection—and maybe we always felt this about celebrities when we were that age—but now it’s so public. That’s been crazy to me, to see the level of fandom these girls have achieved.

Q: What’s the most embarrassing TV show that you watch?
A: I am a huge Pretty Little Liars fan, which is not embarrassing at all, because it is the scariest show on TV. 100%! It is terrifying! Almost to the point where you’re like, “I can’t believe this is marketed to teenagers.”

Q: If we were going to raid your closet, what do you love too much to let us have?
A: I would be devastated if you took my fur coat, which I inherited from my aunt—it was her great aunt’s — and I wear it seriously from the second it gets cold enough until it gets just warm enough not to. I wear it all the time, and it’s kind of a big joke—my friends are like, “You’re seriously wearing this big mink coat with sneakers?”

Q: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever made with your two hands?
A: I’m really short, so in a pinch, I’ve had to do some last-minute alterations that I’ve been pretty proud of. I have this tiered ruffle dress I wanted to wear to a formal in college, and I don’t know how to sew—I really don’t know how to do anything domestic!—but I cut off the last two tiers and was able pin it up so it looked like this was actually where it was supposed to hit. Anything where it just involves a safety pin here, and a safety pin there, I can do.

Q: What’s the worst movie that you own?
A: I don’t know if I would call this the worst, but in my apartment right now, I still have the VHS version of Cruel Intentions. When I was in eighth grade, I was home sick a lot one semester, it was the movie I would rent from Blockbuster. My mom finally said, “I’m going to buy this for you. This is so crazy—why do we keep renting this dumb movie?”

Q: What’s the last thing you saw that really amazed you?
A: Well, actually, last week I went to a screening of Before Midnight, and I loved it. I’m obsessed with the first two movies. I watched Before Sunrise right after I graduated college, which is right when it takes place in the character’s life, and found it so dreamy and relatable and amazing.

Q: Do you own any Of a Kind editions?
A: I own the Academy Jewelry dipped coral necklace, which I love—it pairs very well with all the sweatshirts I wear. I also have the Clare Vivier leopard bag, which fits more than you think it would. I have stuff from Wren [Ed: Including that fly dress she’s wearing in her pic!] and Dusen Dusen and Erica Weiner from all the various Of a Kind sample sales that I like to frequent. I’m an Of a Kind super-fan. Seriously!

Q: You love—love—sweatshirts. Do you have a favorite one?
A: I came across a paparazzi photo of Justin Bieber, and he was wearing this sweatshirt that said “Doing Real Stuff Sucks,” which I thought was hilarious—it was in this really great font, and I’m a huge typography nerd. I did some crazy research, and found the sweatshirt on this Polish website. I couldn’t even tell you what the translation was. I’ll wear it with the coral necklace, I’ll wear it with a Lizzie Fortunato big crazy necklace—it’s sort of a defiant teen message, but I was seriously inspired by Justin Bieber’s style. Anything that a boy would wear—pair it with a lot of jewelry and lipstick, and you’re done. Sweatshirts forever!

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Tell the Tale: Julia Rubin’s Handed-Down Jewels

I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly makes jewelry so much more personal than a beloved sweater or a pair of shoes, but perhaps it’s the permanence of metal and stones and even plastic—the fact that they don’t wear in the same way fabric or leather do. Maybe it’s because of how a ring hugs your finger, or because of the pleasant but present weight of a pile of bracelets. Jewelry is undeniably there in a way that something like a bag is not.

When I was three years old, my mom took me to get my ears pierced. “She asked me to!” she would later tell my skeptical father. Whether or not that’s true, that’s probably where my jewelry history began. I remember the pink stud hearts of my childhood, as well as the little silver hoops I wore throughout middle school. I received jewelry on birthdays and holidays, but some time around the end of my teen years, I realized I didn’t really like new jewelry. Well, most new jewelry at least.

My pieces can generally be separated into three categories: those that have been handed down, those that I bought while traveling, and those that cost less than $10 and add a bit of levity to my mostly serious-looking stash. The ones that have been handed down are obviously my favorite because jewelry with a story is the best kind.

A few years ago, my great-grandmother passed away and left bags of costume jewelry that the other women in my family had no interest in digging through. You see, Grandma Edie was known for her gaudy style—puff-painted sweatshirts and rings with dangling dice. But I’m not the most understated, so I dove right in and found three watches that I’ve worn every day since. One has an engraved message from my great-grandpa on the back, dated 1944. It is without a doubt the most cherished thing I own.

I also always wear a ring my dad gave my mom during their engagement, as well as one of her now-discarded wedding settings—she likes to switch up rings every few years, though luckily my dad has remained a constant—set with a fake sapphire (great pro tip for old settings, by the way). I have other wonderfully eighties staples courtesy of her, like gold button earrings and a segmented bracelet.

Whenever I visit my parents, I make sure to do a little sweep of my mom’s collection. There’s not much left that she’s willing to part with or that I’m itching to steal, but from time to time I do find a hidden gem. And as adulthood has made it clear I’m not destined to live in the same place as my family, it’s a comfort to have a piece of home—or several—with me at any given moment. —julia rubin

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