#66: Sasha Mutchnik (StarterPacksofNYC)

Sasha Mutchnik on Vintage North Face Puffers, Espresso Powder, Going Blonde, and more.

Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Sasha Mutchnik to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.

Sasha is the mastermind behind the popular Instagram page, @StarterPacksofNYC. She has a unique knack for distilling the traits & cliches that make up NYC’s various subcultures into starter packs; so whether you listen to Red Scare or How Long Gone, consider yourself a Foodfluencer, drink martinis at Lucien’s every night, or apparently read this newsletter— you’ve probably been meme’d by her. When she’s not posting on @StarterPacksofNYC, she’s running Cultural Fan Fiction’s social accounts and writing pieces such as The Tensome of Tulum. Sasha has great taste and lucky for us, she’s here to tell us what she’s been into.

Without further ado

Sasha Mutchnik (instagram, twitter)

Hi, I’m Sasha. You probably know me from my Instagram, @StarterPacksofNYC. I guess my memes are all more or less versions of this: a collection of must-have items, as dictated by various exaggerated stereotypes. So what follows here is a kind of meta-starter pack. And, like the ones I usually post, it is bound to be incomplete, and will probably make me look ridiculous. That’s the goal, anyway...

Medaglia d’Oro Instant Espresso Powder

This is the coffee I drink at home every day. I think this surprises some of my friends, because I’m somewhat food-obsessed, and am known for loving the finer things whenever and wherever I can find them. However, it’s all about balance, and I stand by this lowbrow coffee choice one hundred percent. It’s perfectly toasty and bitter, quite cheap, and is ready in as long as it takes to heat water. I think I’ll be drinking it for the rest of my life.

📚 Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

For months since the start of the pandemic, I’ve had trouble getting back into reading for pleasure. I graduated from my Master’s program in May 2020, and was experiencing a lot of literary fatigue… I was studying medieval English literature, and had been up to my ears in readings for months, so I think at the end of it all I was just incredibly burnt out. This book changed that. Set in a post-Covid, semi-fictionalized version of Palm Beach, it’s incredibly fun, and just of-the-moment enough to feel like an inside joke for our times, without veering into the hyper-current or crinegworthy. 

🥿 ROAM Slippers

I’ve gotten into the habit of taking off my shoes when I enter my apartment, mostly just as an excuse to slip into these babies. They’re comfy and cute and definitely the best of all my quar purchases. Plus it feels chic to have house slippers. Every glamorous person should.

👱‍♀️ Going Blonde

So I guess this is less of a product and more of a lifestyle choice. Either way, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I bleached my whole head of previously-virgin hair in December, and every day since has felt like an adventure -- my Blonde Diaries. I’ve been experimenting with different color palettes for clothes and makeup, making new blonde friends, and reintroducing myself to all the staff at my local spots who no longer recognize me. It’s been a gas.

📺 Derry Girls

This genius show, brought to you by Lisa McGee, is really just good for what ails you. As an alumna of an all-girls high school, I find it nails the single-sex educational experience better than anything else out there. It’s funny, easy to watch, and full of charmingly absurd accents. After watching one too many episodes, I find myself talking to myself like an Irishwoman, and then thanking the heavens -- as I do every day -- that I live alone. 

🧥 Vintage North Face Puffers

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with my Most Fashionable Friend, Matthew, who happens to be a very high-end tailor. I had been too eager to embrace the spring weather, and as we prepared to head to dinner outdoors, I found myself shivering. Matthew, being not only stylish but also chivalrous, offered to lend me his perfectly-hued green vintage North Face puffer, and told me I could keep it “for the season.” I've been wearing it every day the weather allows, and every time I get a compliment or catch myself looking cool in the mirror, I just think of Matthew and what an absolute gem of a guy he is. The moral of the story is to find ultra-chic, generous friends who will lend you their cool wares and let you rock them for extended periods of time. It’s cheaper than thrifting, and even more fun.

💊 Drugstore Tights

A few months ago, I made the mistake of treating myself to a couple pairs of fancy black sheer stockings. They made me feel like one of the hot girls on Mad Men, maybe one who marries her boss or something. Until, after all of fifteen minutes, they ripped. So I rolled my eyes and headed to CVS for an emergency replacement. Would you believe, dear reader, that I still have that same pair of (yet unripped!) replacement tights to this very day??? Needless to say: highly recommend.


Follow Sasha, Starter Packs of NYC, and Cultural Fan Fiction on Instagram

Illustration by Justice Mirabal


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