#118: Steff Yotka (Vogue)

Vogue's Steff Yotka on Chopova Lowena Fleece, 91.1 WFMU, Big Dress Energy, and more.

Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Steff Yotka to come on Perfectly Imperfect & redistribute her good taste.

Brooklyn-based (but steadfast New Jerseyan) Steff Yotka is the Senior Fashion News Editor at Vogue Runway where she covers fashion news, writes features, reviews fashion shows, and advises on Vogue Runway’s special projects. She’s appeared on podcasts such as How Long Gone and most recently on Popcast with previous Perfectly Imperfect guests Jon Caramanica and Rachel Tashjian for a “The Style of Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ Era” episode. Steff has great taste and lucky for us, she’s here to talk about what she’s been into.

Without further ado

Steff Yotka (instagram, twitter)

⚔️ Chopova Lowena Fleece

The number one thing I recommend in life is knowing when something is not for you. I’m trying to be choosier, and as much as I enjoyed the REI hiking pants I bought to camp across Iceland this summer, I know gorp is not really for me. This Chopova Lowena fleece feels like a good compromise between wanting to be outdoorsy and knowing I am a mall kid at heart.

📻 91.1 WFMU

Driving around on the West Side Highway, the PIP, the LIE, the GSP, and Routes 4-to-17 while listening to the radio is one of my longest-running and favorite hobbies, but for all the hours I’ve spent behind the wheel, I am pretty music agnostic. That said, of all the Tri-State area radio stations, none could be as bizarre or outlandish as 91.1. It’s a complete grab bag of musical genres: some hits, some deep cuts, and a track I heard once that could only be described as a beep opera. Riveting, keeps me on the edge of my seat, very good for staying alert at the wheel. 

🕷 Mos-Quit-O Bug Repellent Oil

Simple: If you do not want bug bites, get this lavender oil from The Herb Bar in Austin, Texas. The store is magical, to say the least, and it’s the only bug repellent I’ve ever found that works. 

🍣 Restaurant Yamaguchi

Mrs. Yamaguchi and Mr. Yamaguchi are the original purveyors of Japanese cuisine in New York and their Port Washington restaurant is so delicious it is worth the LIRR ride just for dinner. They’ve been serving sushi since the ’70s and keep a pretty low-key, traditional mood within the restaurant—though I think they are currently take-out only because of COVID. The sushi is unreal and the ginger dressing, a secret recipe, is somehow even better. If you are very lucky and loyal, Mrs. Yamaguchi will give you a bar of dark chocolate after dinner, and if you have attained god tier levels of customer loyalty, she will give you a container of ginger dressing on your birthday. This styrofoam cup of dressing is the most valuable item I have ever owned; after each birthday I have to ration it out for the entire year.

🍅 Ceramic Fruits and Vegetables

Despite reading, and then re-reading, and then re-reading a Terence Conran coffee table book as a child, I have absolutely zero interior design sense. Several years ago I started buying ceramic fruits and vegetables as a joke. Doofpot in Greenport N.Y. was a mecca for Italian ceramics before it closed in 2019; now I spend days scouring Etsy for a perfectly plump tomato. Each one is completely ludicrous and absurd, but they make me laugh. There is obviously some symbolism at play here, trying to freeze a moment of ripeness and wholeness in time. 

❄️ January Vacations

It could be bad planning or it could be genius—probably a little of both—but traveling during some of the most furious, intense weather has only been great for my sense of disconnection, relaxation, and awe. I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower in a blizzard, driven across Australia in 100-degree weather, worn two coats to stand near Montreal snow banks that were six feet tall, and been the only guest in Florence’s chilly Boboli Gardens. For a more local option, try the Wall Tour at St John the Divine, where you climb up the cathedral walls to the roof. While everyone else is getting back to work, it’s nice to be still frozen in time—hmm, a recurring theme!—logged off, alone, and far away from the New Year’s Resolutions. 

💃🏻 Big Dress Energy

As FTM (Friend to Me) Rachel Tashjian wrote in an edition of You Know What that I can’t find in my inbox right now, we are living in the era of the dress. Fashion designers are using it as a means to experiment and evolve; I’m fresh off looking at hundreds of spring 2022 collections at work and have found some great BDE frocks at Simone Rocha, Loewe, Noir Kei Ninomiya, and Vaquera. BDE requires a dress to not only be large: It must swoosh around your body, tight in the right places and offensively poofy in others, and it must be worn with the ease of Birkenstocks. Not being precious about 10 meters of taffeta is BDE. It’s noisier than a Nap Dress. Easier to run in than Balenciaga couture. No to a Comme des Garçons bulbous creation without arm holes—proof not all big dresses contain Big Dress Energy—but yes to many Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons (the sub-brand) ruffled and polka dot numbers.


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