We recently had the chance to sit down with Sadie Lincoln, Co-Founder and CEO of Barre3. We talked about the evolution of her style as it relates to her identity as a C-suite professional, and how separating herself personally from the brand was a serious A-ha! moment.
“I am not a company, I’m a human being, totally separate from this incredible company that yes, I started, but I am not creating.”-Sadie
SC: Your style has evolved over the time I’ve known you.
SC: It’s so beautiful, so real, so you and very current. I feel like you moved to the head of the pack! I hear people saying all the time, ‘Oh my god I love Sadie’s style, she’s so put together she always looks dressed for the occasion,’ and it’s all you. I want to know how that’s changed as you are coming more and more into the spotlight? Do you feel like your style has evolved in a way that matches you? And is it getting easier or harder?
SL: Well, first of all, honest shout out to you because you gave me the tools in the beginning, as well as permission, to ‘up my game’. You also introduced me to designers that had soul, and instead of ‘emergency’ shopping, and now I really enjoy it! Cultivating and curating a full wardrobe that’s ‘me’ is one of my favorite things that you helped me figure out, which is not super intuitive to me. It’s like: ‘a little bit old, a little bit of shine, a little bit of texture,’ and just mixing things in a palette and not being so uniform. That’s been really fun for me because I love old things, I love texture, or, if you’ve been in my home, you know I love color. But I also like things to be pretty simple, so it’s been kind of fun.
The part of the question about being in the spotlight: it does feel good when I’m presenting, or even just at work with my team, to be really, really comfortable in what I’m wearing. And to not feel like what I’m wearing is my “presentation outfit” but it’s actually me. There have been times when I thought I needed to ‘wear the suit’, or a certain dress, but then the strap keeps falling down, or it doesn’t really fit my body. Now, I’ll update a little bit when I’m presenting but it’s pretty much what I would wear anyway.
SC: Do you test out garments now when you’re in the dressing room or when you’re at your home trying things you’ve ordered?
SL: Yes, totally! I learned the hard way. For example, one time I was headed to an event where I was sitting on a panel. I had on a really cute mock-turtleneck A-line dress with a collar that was tight around my neck. As I was walking out the door I realized at the last minute: ‘Where the heck am I going to put the mic pack?!’
Color really feels good and makes me feel bold and powerful.-Sadie
SC: There’s a brand called Argent, out of San Francisco, it’s a suiting brand for women and it’s so colorful and fun and they have pockets for everything. They include all the interior pockets that modern women need for a phone, microphone… It was actually birthed here in Portland but Sali is down in Los Angeles now. I’ve ordered it for certain clients and it’s been working out really well; I believe that designers are starting to really consider what women demand out of our clothes.
Try this classic blazer from Argent.
SL: That’s so cool! Because as women, we usually have a weird, bulky mic pack where our bra strap is or on our hip; men just put it in their pockets. I never thought about that!
SC: You mentioned that you like to incorporate texture and ‘old things’ into your look, but you’re also doing that in your home?
SC: Do you see parallels between your look with clothing and with your home, for example if they’re similar color palettes?
SL: For sure! I feel like there is a totally similar color palette. I love gray, tan, army green and denim. Those are my favorites and then I’ll add pops of color and patterns, like on the fringes. That’s basically my house!
SC: And do you feel like your pops of color change over time? Or are you going to the same ones, like you’ve picked red, orange, yellow…
SL: Yeah, they kind of stay the same. Two of my favorites are a pinky-orangey-red, and turquoise.
SC: Do you feel like the colors you’re wearing make a difference to how you feel?
SL: Yes, my new obsession is floral dresses! Long, floral dresses, I’m just loving all that. Color really feels good and makes me feel bold and powerful.
Click here for a great flowy floral dress by Reformation & pair with this Cos belted wool cardigan for cool weather.
SC: Do you think that your affinity for long floral dresses has anything to do with the way and the spirit in which you were brought up?
SL: Oh, 100 percent! I’m so in love with my mom and all my aunties, how they dressed and how they lived. That I get to wear what they wore, but in a more modern way, is so fun. It’s kind of funny because I grew up, as you know, kind of communally. Not in a commune, but the women were single moms that raised kids together in the late sixties, seventies and eighties. They’re still together, and we’re all still one big family, but I used to joke that people thought they were sister wives! I know it looked like that! But now I’m totally into that kind of prairie, ‘big love’ attire, which I think is kind of a nod to them. It cracks me up!
SC: That’s really special! Have they given you anything that you now have in your closet?
SL: Very few items, sadly. They were such gypsies, they moved so much. I mean, I think I lived in (we counted once) 13 homes by the time I was 8. So they were super minimal, and they shopped at Goodwill and vintage-y places. I have one beautiful dress from my mom that’s a batik, long, maxi dress. I have a red satin jacket that she used to go to concerts in, but other than that it’s really stuff I’ve just found along the way. I just got these rad, used cowboy boots in Joshua tree that I’m in love with! Oh my gosh, they’re so good!
SC: Text me a picture of those bad boys!
SL: They are so perfect. I couldn’t believe that someone was selling them and that they fit me!
SC: What color are they?
SC: Are they tall?
SL: They are, they’re taller. And they’re just perfectly worn in with a little bit of paint on them. They remind me exactly of what cowboys would have worn in Taos, New Mexico.
SC: Amazing! And they go with your floral dresses!
SL: Yes, totally!
Pair these Frye cowboy boots with floral dresses!
SC: When I was in college I purchased a pair of riding boots, old Australian riding boots from Goodwill. I had two friends on my floor and we felt different. We had our own little posse, we all had our own style, and the boots, even though they were bigger because they were my size, got borrowed by both of my friends. I think they were three sizes too big on one of the women, but those boots traveled between us. They were always being worn and it was because they were so perfect. It’s hard to buy new cowboy boots that have the same feeling… They do need to be broken in and they do need to have that soul.
SC: Have you been following any of the second hand or vintage resources online?
SL: I haven’t but my 15 year-old daughter certainly has. She’s all about upcycling. She’ll go bin-diving or look for free stuff or shop for used things at the second hand shops on Hawthorne. Then she comes home, cleans them, cuts them up, sews them, changes the buttons. Recently she started selling pieces online through Depop.
SC: Has she made anything for you?
SL: No, mostly for herself! But she’s definitely doing it consistently. Most of her clothes look like things I wore in the 1990s: mom jeans cinched with a black belt, scrunchies, little crop tops, flannels!
SC: It’s crazy. I feel like a mom, even though I’m not, when I see the girls in baggy clothes head to toe. I want to say: ‘You don’t need to hide your body!’
SL: You know what’s so cute that reminds me of my mom: a handkerchief in her hair, so cute with her bangs… just adorable.
SL: I got to style [your husband] Chris; I’m wondering what it’s like now that he has an updated look? He didn’t have to go too far, he just needed more great things, but I remember you both wanted to harmonize each other in terms of your vibe when representing the company at a C-suite level. Do you feel like that happened?
SL: Yeah, I would say, I mean… C-suite… We’ve gotten into that tier yet I don’t feel like we’re ‘in it’. It’s our title, but not who we see ourselves as primarily. I feel like he’s a little more polished. You gave him permission to go beyond Banana Republic. He loves that store on Hawthorne, Communion. (I went there recently and got a really cute pair of high waisted, painter-style jeans!) He’s figuring it out and it’s easier to get out the door when we have things we want to do together.
Check out this stylish men’s wool button down shirt from Mr. Porter.
SC: I remember talking a bit about merch for Barre3; you were asking yourself: ‘How do I incorporate sustainability?’ Have you have you made any progress in that department?
SL: Elena has really been at the helm of that. She’s done an amazing job. Most of our clothing is sourced in the U.S. and, when possible, founded by women and run by women. One of our favorite lines, for example, is Beyond Yoga. I’m actually wearing Beyond Yoga leggings right now!
We’ve private labeled them. Elena’s doing all kinds of cool stuff with the fabric choices and really just being more and more conscientious. She’s also looking for give-backs when possible so, for example, we have a beautiful line of jewelry called Dear Survivor. A portion of the proceeds go to sex trafficking awareness. We highlight local artists. We now have 163 studios all across the country and when at all possible we highlight local artists from those different communities [in our retail environment]. So not all of our retail is exactly the same. It reflects the communities that we’re in.
SC: I wonder how often those designers are taking classes at the studio?
SL: That’s often how we find out about them! It’s almost always clients that say, ‘Hey did you know I make these bad ass earrings?’ And we say, ‘Let’s shine a light on you and sell them, they’re amazing!’
SC: And you’re working on your brand as well as the Barre3 brand. I have so many clients who are in that place where they’ve built something, they’ve founded something, they’ve created something with their heart and soul, and are being asked so often about the story. And as those conversations happen more and more, you’re developing this personal brand that is separate but includes Barre3. When you’re dressing, do you feel like you have to hop back and forth between 2 personalities?
SL: That’s such a great question. I was just looking at old photos of me. First of all, it’s not the chicken or the egg [conversation], because we are unrelated. I am not a company. It’s like an apple and an orange. And that’s key, because for a while I was so mentally absorbed in my company – and I would say ‘my company’. Now I’d say ‘our company’. It’s not mine, and you can tell in my style. In the earlier days, I was always in workout wear, I just embodied Barre3. I think it’s natural… I suppose it’s like having a baby you breastfeed. For a while you go on attached, but then you become 2 separate things.
And then I had a turning point. I literally had this aha! [moment] that I am not a company, I’m a human being, totally separate from this incredible company that, yes, I started, but I am not creating. It’s now taken on a life of its own. I think it was about the time I started seeing you and differentiating [myself]. I’ll still mix and match. For example, at our owner summit, I wore this really cute bias-cut silk skirt with a Barre3 tank top and tennis shoes, which is super fun because I mixed it.
Check out this staple-worthy bias-cut silk skirt from Vince.
SL: I didn’t wear just a workout outfit or a suit, but mixed the two of them. That’s something I love doing: I love wearing sneakers with dresses and mixing sport with my bohemian, old stuff. They are very separate [identities].
SC: Yes, that’s so healthy.
SL: Everyone is happier; Barre3 is happier, and I’m happier.
SC: Do you, as Sadie, have a designer that you feel you could dress in head-to-toe, every day, all day? Or a store?
SL: Maybe Rachel Comey. And No. 6, I loved their shoes, their handbags, their dresses… their florals.
Try this Rachel Comey silk A-line dress. Here’s a great pair of clogs and a Christian Wijnants dress from No. 6 Store.
SC: Have you been to their store in New York?
SC: I think you should go next time! It’s in the middle of it all and it would be easy for you to get to. I love it. I was in there a couple of weeks ago and I was thinking of you because floral is not going anywhere… it’s sticking around, and the dresses they had were more tailored but still flowing at the bottom which I thought was really great. [That shape] is so easy to move in. I remember one time we were in your closet and you were talking about how it’s so important to be able to breathe in your clothes. You said, ‘I can’t have anything super tight around my waist because I need to be able to breathe.’ That’s also what you teach.
SL: All of us women need a lesson about letting go. It’s so unhealthy to suck it in. Some women have a natural flatter belly or waist, however I don’t, and so when I wear things that are cinched around the waist, it goes against my natural body. I’ll end up at the end of the day with a stomach ache or just not feeling quite right.
SC: We can’t fight our clothes.
SL: Totally! Another designer I love is Ace & Jig. It’s like wearing a yummy, beautiful blanket all day.
SC: I’m sure they would love to hear that! They are some of the most wonderful, beautiful, shining personalities ever. It would be cool if you could do some sort of collab with them. We should get you in touch because they create fabric with artisans. They are involved from the beginning, and it’s so neat to see what happens when one has full creative control, working in collaboration with artisans, to make those textiles that they make. They’ve really been telling such a consistent story for so long and, yeah, people love it. They spoke at the sustainability conference that I also spoke at here in Portland. That’s when I met them, and they were so full of light and all wearing the same fabric but in different styles, and it was great seeing their personalities shine through that way too.
SL: I love that.
SC: I’m going to send you a link to a jumpsuit I love. The line is called Alex Mill. It’s the greatest jumpsuit ever! It’s 100 percent cotton, it looks really great, and it has some tailoring at the waist but it doesn’t have a tight, cinch waist. It gives an hourglass shape and it comes in extra small.
SC: Any other loves you’d like to share?
SL: The Neva Opet bags! And clogs – we love clogs!
SC: Do you remember that green Missoni turtleneck [we found for you]?
SC: Did you end up consigning that?
SL: I think I probably did, yeah! But now I suddenly want it!
SC: I saw it at Button and thought: it’s got to be Sadie’s! I’m sure there aren’t many of those out there in the world, especially here in Portland. You have to go to Button with your daughter!
SC: It’s on Interstate. They have kids clothes and adult’s clothes but they get a lot of brands that we’re talking about: Rachel Comey, Ace & Jig, No 6…. They do a really good job of picking things, so I almost always find something when I’m there. They would be a great place for you to consign pieces because it aligns right up with your aesthetic. They take things that are a little bit more worn than Seams to Fit would take. I’ve been sending mothers & daughters there; with the 90s style being in fashion, they are definitely picking things that are in that vibe, so both teenage girls and their moms can find stuff there!
SL: Awesome, I’ll definitely have to check that out! I have been really trying to weed through my closet as much as possible. If I don’t wear it, I consign it, less is more…
I love wearing sneakers with dresses and mixing sport with my bohemian, old stuff.-Sadie
SC: Yes! Sadie, thank you so much. You’ve given us so much great information here.
SL: Thank you for featuring me and for helping me so much. You’ve been amazing!
SC: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the process!
SL: You’re so good at what you do, so so good.
SC: Thanks Sadie.
To read more 'Admired' Interviews, click here.