Sydney Sadick, AIM HIGH

Sydney Sadick, AIM HIGH

Zibby Owens: Welcome, Sydney. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Sydney Sadick: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited, the queen of books.

Zibby: The queen of fashion.

Sydney: Thank you.

Zibby: Aim High, your new book, please tell listeners what this book is about and what inspired you to write this book.

Sydney: I host a lot of fashion segments for shows like the Today Show, E!, Inside Edition. Once my segments ended, I would get hundreds of DMs on Instagram from women of all ages ranging from teenagers to women in their sixties saying that they needed more. They wanted more fashion advice. They wanted to know about confidence. They had all these questions that they couldn’t get answered in my six-minute segment. That was where the idea came from. How can I expand on what people already know of me in a place that you can constantly go back to and learn more? Aim High is really that place. It’s a go-to read for motivational advice on fashion tips, but also how to bring out your confidence from within. I always say that confidence is an accessory that never goes out of style. It’s just as difficult of something to bring out as much as developing your own personal style. Those two things really come together. It’s also to explain how the way that you dress can affect your mood. It helps you achieve the goals that you want out of life. I know for myself throughout quarantine, I was living in sweatpants at the beginning. I was very unmotivated. I was very depressed by everything going on in the world. Then I realized, wait a minute, if I want to shift my view and my mindset, I need to start dressing like the girl I used to be. Now I put on my makeup. I put on structured pants. I wear a fitted top. I am like the original me. This whole notion of aiming high is something I think that’s even more relevant today because of the pandemic. We all need that positivity and that emphasis on self-care. That goes right down to what we wear.

Zibby: I am totally impressed that you’re dressing up in your home every day. That’s amazing. I love it. It’s inspirational. I need to take a piece of that. I have these three sweatpants that, actually, I learned about from Real Simple magazine. They did an inventory of the best joggers. I was like, ooh, I’m kind of tired of my sweatpants, so I ordered those sweatpants. Every day, I’m like, light grey, dark grey, black, light grey.

Sydney: They’re comfortable. I get it. If you could see on the side of our Zoom screen right now, I have six pairs of sweatpants that are just sitting on the side. I say those are for after hours. That’s what I can change into once I’m done with the work that needs to be done. That’s just my own way.

Zibby: That’s great. I do dress up sometimes because it does make me feel good. It’s absolutely true. When you feel better, you even eat better. It’s this whole ripple effect. Yes, I totally understand. I loved how in the book you gave a whole example at the beginning when you were trying to help a woman dress for three weddings in a week. You ended up finding this magic item I’d never heard of before that morphs into fifty-seven different things. You could see her confidence really coming out. She really owned that outfit and the accessories that you found. You are the best shopper ever. You don’t spend that much money. You get a hundred different things. You make all these different outfits. Then the end result, of course, is this super confident person who can waltz into the wedding feeling really great. I thought that was such a great opening story that you included.

Sydney: Thank you. That was definitely one of the memorable moments of the last few years. It was my first real creative segment on Hoda & Jenna where I got to really create a concept and have someone, a viewer, be changing on live television as we went. We had a little mini-dressing room for her with a curtain. She ran back and forth. The dress, which was called the convertible wrap dress, was being wrapped around a million different ways. It was a whole situation. This woman, Eileen, was just so excited. That was the moment I realized, too, it doesn’t matter where you live in the country. We live in New York, so we’re surrounded by fashion constantly. This was a woman who lived in a very suburban town outside of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania where it just wasn’t part of her life. She didn’t even care. This is a moment where she realized, wait a minute, there is something to be said here. I actually do like fashion. It just took me a moment to figure it out. I think it happens for every woman at a different point in life.

Zibby: Tell me again the story, and you included it in your book, of your complete go-getter-ness from your Harvard summer program to launching a blog to becoming you, working all through college. This is insane. Just give us a little more color into all of that.

Sydney: I think a lot of moms will relate to this when you have a child who maybe is super shy, is maybe afraid of going to summer camp or doing the traditional things that all of the kids on the Upper East Side or even other states are doing. I was just never that girl to leave my family and go away even on a sleepover. I was just very attached to my mom and probably still am a little bit. My parents were like, “Sydney, if you want to go to a college that’s outside of New York, how are they going to think that you’re ready for that, these schools? They know that you haven’t done anything that’s outside of your box.” I said, “You’re right.” My mom brought up the idea of Harvard summer school. My aunts had gone. This is years ago. We have a big age gap between us. She told me that she had this amazing experience. I was like, if she did it and she’s a homebody, then maybe I could get into it. I applied and got in. When I went to go and select the courses that were available to me, the two that really sounded the most appealing, and for no other reason than the descriptions, were in journalism. I signed up for these two classes with all Harvard professors. I was the youngest person in my classes because for some reason it was more targeted towards grad students, but they let me in. I was just sixteen.

For the first assignment for one of the classes, they said, “You need to come back in the next day and start your own blog. Write about whatever you want.” This is in 2010. Instagram in nonexistent. The word WordPress is this new term that people are just trying to figure out what that even means and what you can do with it. My dorm room was coincidentally the dorm room that Mark Zuckerberg was in, Lowell House, years ago. I create this blog. I’m like, you know what, if I’m going to write about something, it needs to be what I know. I had a very stylish mom. I had a very stylish grandmother. I can write about fashion. I come up with the name Style Solutions. I start posting my outfits like you see of traditional fashion bloggers today. It was becoming wildly read across this summer program for whatever reason. When I got back to New York, I was like, I don’t want to give this up. I could totally see this becoming a brand. I said, but it needs to be different. I can’t just be posting my outfits. It doesn’t have enough depth for me. In addition to the digital skills I learned at this program, I said I wanted to really take the reporting skills that I learned in the other class that I was taking that summer, and I said I want to start interviewing celebrities. At sixteen years old, you don’t really know how you’re going to make that happen.

Conveniently, the New York Post has, always, these great little stories and advertisements. There was an ad for Rhianna who was going to be launching her debut book at Barnes & Noble, which is ironic. Life is so funny like that. It all comes around. I got my school to let me to leave class early. I changed in the middle of Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street out of my little uniform, put on whatever clothes I had. I wait in this line for three hours. I was the last person. I swore Rhianna was going to leave. I was just begging the team I saw around. I’m like, “Is she going to stay? Is she going to stay?” She stayed. I got up to her. I said, “Instead of just signing my book with your name, can you please write down your favorite fashion accessory?” I didn’t know if she was going to do it. I couldn’t see. There was so much room between me and her at the table. I have the book here. I look at it sometimes. She wrote it down. She said it was scarves. I was able to turn that quote into an article and say “Rhianna reveals her favorite fashion accessory” and recapped her best moments in scarves. The article blows up. It gets ten thousand unique people in that first hour.

Zibby: I thought it was hair accessories. I could’ve sworn you said something else. Wasn’t it hair accessories? It had two words. There were definitely two words in it.

Sydney: It could’ve been changed to hair accessories because she used the scarves as turbans across her hair. It was a combination, but she really meant scarves, is what she meant. We wrote that in the book, but I think it was more leaning towards scarves because she always wore them across her head.

Zibby: Got it. Okay, sorry.

Sydney: Good catch of detail. She wrote this down. The article blew up. That was the moment where I was like, if I can get Rhianna to talk about something, then I should be able to ask many more celebrities. From there, I got an internship at the Daily Front Row, went to GW for college in school of media and public affairs, freelanced for them throughout college, and interned for Rachel Zoe, Oprah Magazine, all of which kept my feet wet. I became an editor as soon as I graduated for the Daily until I left two years later to pursue being on air. It’s been a ten-year journey. People are like, you’re so young, you’re so young. I feel old because it’s been going on for so many years.

Zibby: Is that your dream, the on-air component of your life? Do you want to have your own show? It sounds like that’s where this is going, that one day you’re going to have your own fashion show on Bravo or something. Is that where you’re headed?

Sydney: Definitely. You know what? Fashion has been my core. It’s been the base of what I’ve done. Because of it and then what I’ve also been doing, other things throughout quarantine, it’s opened the conversation to talk so much more about fashion. I love fashion as a way to get into someone and to just talk about fun things, but I’m really interested in expanding that and really having conversations beyond fashion too, but how to mold these different categories together.

Zibby: Very cool.

Sydney: But a show, yes.

Zibby: Now it’s so great, though, because you can just turn on your camera, and you have a show. It’s so disintermediated, if that’s even the right word.

Sydney: And that’s all you.

Zibby: You don’t even need the network. It’s better because you get a bigger audience right away, but you can test it out.

Sydney: That’s what I’ve been actually doing throughout quarantine. I started a daily Instagram Live show. We bring on different celebrities and designers every day. Sometimes I think the views are so crazy that it might be just as much as what people are watching on television. Media is changing so much. I think people really want that accessibility. You do your Instagram Lives too. Your fans and audience can ask questions as they go. They feel engaged and involved. I think we all want to feel less alone right now. That whole notion of community is so important.

Zibby: Totally. You’re right. Of course, you have your Instagram Live show. I’m sorry, I should’ve thought to say that.

Sydney: No, that’s okay.

Zibby: Let’s go back to the fashion specifics for two seconds to the aforementioned moms who are in their sweatpants, perhaps me, most of the time. What changes are within our grasp that are not so hard to implement that can make us feel better?

Sydney: By the way, if you’re good in your sweatpants, don’t change out of it. If that’s what makes you feel comfortable and good right now, leave the sweatpants as your base and go for it a little more in the other elements of your wardrobe. When you’re doing all these Zoom talks, and I’m sure a lot of moms are doing school conferences or they will be soon, it’s really about focusing on the upper portions of our bodies and how we can make a statement from the waist up. An easy way to do that is to throw on a statement pair of earrings like a hoop, a chain necklace, something that just adds a little bit of glamor and boldness without trying too hard. It doesn’t take that much effort. Layering is also something that is really easy to do. You have a T-shirt. Then you could throw on a little blazer. I think blazers are a little stiff when we’re at home. It’s a little hard for me to even do that. A really crisp cardigan always works really well. Going for some color or even a pattern, just a way so when people are looking at you, it brightens things up a bit. That’s also really easy. I think it’s totally fine to stick with your comfortable silhouettes. It’s just about going for them in a little bit more of a fashion-forward way.

Zibby: Mind you, I know this will be on YouTube and on the podcast. For the people who are not watching this on YouTube, to see our outfits right now, Sydney is wearing this little white T-shirt, very cute, with a gold — oh, there’s a little heart on it. Her gorgeous, long, looks-like-it-must-be-fake-because-it’s-so-gorgeous hair is covering it with a chain gold necklace and giant hoop really thick earrings and full-on makeup and whatever. I am wearing a black T-shirt under a black long sleeve T-shirt with my kid’s school lanyard around my neck and my hair in a ponytail. I actually put makeup on, so this is better than it could’ve been. I’m not in my pajamas, which is also great. I’m not even in sweatpants today. I’m in new leggings.

Sydney: are different. I’m single. I don’t have a family. I don’t have the responsibility other than myself. Like I said before, it depends on where you are in life. Your priorities shift. I don’t know what I’m going to be like, but this is me right now in my twenties who doesn’t have anyone to worry about but me. That’s the truth. It’s different for you and for a lot of moms.

Zibby: Thank you for letting me off the hook in that gentle way. What about your sourcing of inexpensive, really cute, make a big pop items that you seem to find for all the people on TV?

Sydney: For me, I do better in Zaras and Forever 21s than I would ever do in luxurious label brands like a Gucci or . I don’t really feel comfortable with those brands. It’s fun to have a splurge handbag or a shoe. In terms of clothing, I don’t think that’s where women should be spending thousands and thousands of dollars. I just personally don’t see the value. You can find great quality clothing in stores like Zara. One of my favorite websites is called the Verge Girl. It’s kind of the new Nasty Gal.

Zibby: Wait, I’m writing this down. Say it again.

Sydney: Verge Girl. Some of it looks, I’m just warning you, a little juvenile when you go to the homepage, but the quality is so strong. You need to sift through it and find those pieces like their oversized sweaters. It’s such good quality. Everything is around a hundred dollars. It works. I don’t believe in spending a lot of money, also, on trends.

Zibby: A hundred dollars is a lot for a sweater. Keep taking me lower and lower.

Sydney: You can go lower too, but in terms of a high-quality cashmere sweater, between eighty and a hundred dollars. Compared to going to Bloomingdale’s, they’re never going to be under a hundred ever. Forever 21, sites like that, you can find pieces under fifty dollars that are amazing. I never put anything over fifty dollars on my segments ever. It’s always under fifty. Places like Old Navy; I love the jeans and jeggings from American Eagle. I think they’re so flattering. They fit on all women.

Zibby: Yes, my daughter just told me about American Eagle. We got her some clothes. They’re amazing. I was like, I think I have to order from here. I was unexpectedly wowed by American Eagle. That read like an ad. It was not an ad. This actually happened.

Sydney: None of these are ads. They’re just opinions. Lulus is another great site, tons of pieces under fifty dollars that are so fun.

Zibby: Lulus?

Sydney: Lulus is only.

Zibby: To be honest, I do not like to spend money on clothes at all and don’t very often. I like to spend money on books. I do also feel like it’s important to look put together. I always hear my mother’s voice in my head. Come on, pull yourself together. Wear a cute outfit.

Sydney: It really is not about spending money. That’s what I try to explain to people. Style don’t equal a price tag. It’s just a mindset. The first place that I always suggest shopping first is your own closet. People always say to me on Instagram, you have so many clothes. Yes, brands send me clothes every single week. I’m very, very lucky. But half the time, I’m re-wearing the same pieces every week. You can’t even tell because I’m just styling it in a way that tricks everyone from not realizing. They think it’s a new outfit, but it’s not. It’s just developing that craft and knowing what looks good on you and what you like and then mixing and matching. That way you don’t feel like you have to go shopping. I never really feel like I have to shopping, nor do I really want to at this point. That’s not what’s as important to me right now.

Zibby: What do you think is going to happen to all the designers and everybody if nobody ever goes to events anymore? I opened my closet. I have a few really fancy dresses. I was like, oh, I wonder if I’ll ever wear these again. Then I was thinking, what about all the people who make all these fancy dresses? Their whole business model, they must have been doing great. I sound like a moron. Obviously, I know that the economy has been hit in basically every possible sector, but I just happened to be thinking about high-end formal wear companies and what’s going on with them.

Sydney: It’s so true. I’ve been in the Hamptons since March. I’ve gone back to the city twice. When I went back most recently — I had my rack of clothing which is where I would usually keep the clothes I would wear that week. I was going to tons of events, and I just had to stay organized. That rack is full of the clothes that I was supposed to wear the week that the city shut down. I saw this gorgeous periwinkle sequin blue gown I was supposed to wear to the museum for their young adults’ party that I was on the committee of. I’m like, am I ever wearing that again? A lot of designers have had to shift their focus. Jonathan Simkhai is now doing total ready-to-wear very cool just leggings and T-shirts, the most causal I’ve ever seen him. Michael Costello, when the pandemic first hit, he stopped making his gowns and just transitioned to making masks with his million-mask initiative to give masks to frontline workers in LA and in other cities. He was one of my first guests on my Lunchtime with Sydney show. He actually brought us into the back where we could see these masks being made, which was super cool. Christian Siriano, he’s definitely doing a little bit more licensing deals, I can see, with different companies. I think they’re all trying to just figure it out. I really hope that we will be able to go to events. I think it’s just going to take time. Especially for my generation, millennials, they don’t like that notion of waiting. I read like crazy, these articles. Time magazine just did an article comparing the pandemic to the Spanish flu. It literally did a side-by-side. To me, it says another year’s going to be washed. When things do hopefully normalize in some capacity, we’re all going to have to have a really big coming-out party. Everyone’s going to have to just be decked out in their best outfits ever and make up for the last two years.

Zibby: Exactly. What’s coming next for you? Do you have any idea? Where are things going? You’re doing your own show, basically. You have this amazing book that just came out. Now what? What’s in the next year? What’s your planning?

Sydney: Planning is the one thing, as such a controlling person, that I can’t really do right now. I think a lot of women, and men, are struggling with that. We’re not really in control of our futures. I’ve kind of taken a step back and realized that I can’t plan. My goal before the pandemic was to work for a specific network. I thought I was moving to LA and this was all happening. Then I was like, that can’t even be my goal now because that’s not the focus of viewers. Media and fashion, they’re both changing so much right now that it has to be a very fluid situation. The one thing I can control is myself. This Lunchtime with Sydney show is something I fully have control of. I do everything. I host. I book. I produce. I’m loving that hands-on-ness that I’m able to have right now because it makes me fulfilled. I am continuing to build that out. I host Instagram Lives on Fridays for the Today Show‘s new millennial platform called Tomorrow by Today, which is a very similar concept to what I started on Lunchtime with Sydney. Continuing to focus on the book and just doing fun events and trying to do virtual things with my followers because I really want people to take COVID seriously and to stay home as much as they can and wear their masks. My generation is just so out of touch in a lot of ways with how to deal with this. I’m trying to set a good example. It’s easier said than done, but I’m really trying. And hopefully more products. I launched an Aim High hoodie with my book. It was a collaboration with brand, . It sold out within twenty-four hours. I want to continue to release products to make people feel good and that’s accessible to everyone.

Zibby: That’s a great idea. Awesome. Do you have any advice to aspiring authors having just written a book?

Sydney: Listen, I’ve never given birth, but I feel like it must sort of be like the equivalent mentally of giving birth to a baby because you’re putting something out into the world. I went to school for journalism, so I wrote. I’ve written my whole life. For me, that wasn’t really hard. It’s just about coming up with an idea and how it can be different. We’re in such a world where there are so many people who are so good at the same kind of skills. It’s about our perspectives that make us different. It’s about finding that niche and what makes your voice a little different from the rest. I think it’s just figuring that out, writing a lot of lists. You would give way better advice than I would. I’m sure you have a great method.

Zibby: You know what? Everybody I ask has something a little bit different to say. It’s just so neat. It reflects their personality. I just like hearing. Make lots of lists, I don’t anyone has said that before. There you go.

Sydney: Post-it notes everywhere. I tried to clean up for you today.

Zibby: Thank you. Sydney, thank you so much. Thanks for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” Congratulations on your book. I can’t wait to see where you end up going in life. You’re like a little shooting star. We’ll see what happens.

Sydney: Thank you so much. I so appreciate that.

Zibby: Have a great day.

Sydney: Bye.

Zibby: Buh-bye.

Sydney Sadick, AIM HIGH