Alison Syrett Cleary - InStyle's Senior Fashion Writer

Alison Syrett Cleary is the Senior Fashion Writer at InStyle Magazine in the US. She shares with us the positive things she is taking from 2020, her plans for the festive season ahead and what she carries in her favourite DeMellier bag, the Los Angeles.

Inside Alison Syrett Cleary's DeMellier
Alison Syrett Cleary
Where are you based at the moment and how is your daily life being affected by all the events this year?

I’m based in Brooklyn, New York, and I live in Park Slope with my husband and 19 month old daughter. When the city shut down last March, our two bedroom apartment suddenly took on new meaning: in addition to being our home, it also had to function as an office, a gym, a restaurant… as everything! During April and May, when the pandemic was at its peak in NYC, everyday was very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants situation; the only plan was to make it through that scary situation with our health and sanity intact. But now, while it’s certainly not “normal” around here by any means, I’ve settled into a bit of a daily routine: early morning emails, streaming a workout, playground trip with my toddler, and settling into the “office” when she goes down for a nap. Plus I’ve started wearing real pants again, which I think is a win for everyone!

What are the positive things you are taking from this year?

Because I’m still so in it, I’m not sure if I can exactly say what I’ve learned from this moment in time yet - only that I can feel it changing the way I think about, relate to, and emphasize with other people in profound ways. I think I’m going to come out of this a much kinder person than who I was going into it. As for positives, I have two major takeaways: a sudden intolerance for small talk (because if you ask me how I am, I can not actually say “fine” anymore) and the chance to watch my baby grow up in front of my eyes! In the time we’ve all been home together I’ve seen her take her first steps and speak her first words.

Who are the women who inspire you personally and professionally?

The women I work with at InStyle are a constant source of inspiration to me, particularly as they continue to put out a smart, funny, and heart-filled magazine each month under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Outside of my personal orbit, I am in awe of any woman who is trying to make the world better right now, be it through protesting, volunteering, or simply donating to important causes at home.

What were your plans to celebrate festive season?

< At the time of this interview > Thanksgiving and Christmas plans were still up in the air because the more family members you include, the more complicated the timing of Covid tests and quarantining gets. It’s looking like it might be a cozy holiday with the 3 of us in a rented cabin in upstate New York - and lots of Zoom calls with all the grandparents, aunts, and uncles!

In my DeMellier

My Handbag

I love the idea of being one of those ladies who effortlessly runs around town with a bag the size of her palm, but it gives me way too much anxiety to be outside the house for long without backup supplies. For instance: Is it really necessary that I haul along that hardcover book I’ve been trying to get through for a month? Maybe not, but I sure will be sad if I’m stuck in a waiting room without it. My perfect bag is something that has room for everything I will and might need like my Los Angeles tote.

My Makeup

Since having a baby last year, my routine is usually a rushed 5 to 10 minute situation in the morning, and then I do touch-ups throughout the day. My essentials include Glossier mascara (it’s the only option I’ve found that never smudges - and I’m an eye rubber) and boy brow, Fresh tinted lip balm, and a Bobbi Brown concealer wand for touch-ups. 

My Accessories

For a midday pick-me-up, I carry a bottle of rose water mist and MILK makeup’s under eye de-puffing stick - it works wonders on those days my kid wakes me up at 5am! Additionally, I always keep a few black silk scrunchies by Slip around because even if I start the day with my hair down, it’s usually up by lunch time. Pre-Covid, I would often try to squeeze in a barre or pilates workout before or after work at a local studio (my favorites are Xtend Barre and SLT), so I’d always have an Outdoor Voices sports bra and a pair of grippy socks stashed at the bottom of my purse. And these days, it goes without saying I always have hand sanitizer on me: my go-tos are fun and colorful formulas by the French brand Merci Handy. 

My Other Companions

As a voracious podcast listener, I am never without my Bose noise cancelling headphones; I use them to catch up on my shows whenever I’m walking somewhere or running errands. And to avoid using too much plastic, I carry a S’well water bottle and metal straw wherever I go. My bag also acts as the family snack stash: Kind bars for my husband, blueberry muffins for my daughter, raw almonds and pumpkin seeds for me... and, of course, wet wipes to clean everyone up.


Alison on a Brooklyn stoop via Instagram @alisonsyrettcleary

Park Slope, Brooklyn

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