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“Good style is intuitive,” Mona Esser Pennock explains. “It’s aligned with how you’re feeling that day and the story you want to tell.” The creative director and co-founder of Gemsun would say that she’s an “intuitive guide,” which she describes as using spiritual practices including her intuition and astrology readings to influence her life, and that includes her personal style. What does that mean in reality? “I’m a Pisces myself, so I love a look that playful and a little silly. Something unexpected like a minimalist outfit with strange jewelry.”
She also pulls style inspiration from her mother and people-watching, whether she’s in New York or abroad. Esser Pennock has built a wardrobe of pieces sourced from thrift stores in Brooklyn, flea markets, Etsy, eBay, and the Gem app for more specific vintage finds. Some of her favorite pieces are from her friends’ brands, like dresses from L.A.-based Brooke Callahan and Peyton Sandler’s carefully crafted shell art.
Below, see where Esser Pennock got the pieces that made it into her curated wardrobe.
Where did you get what’s on your nightstand?
My best friend in L.A. got me this Isun face mist, and it’s so beautiful. I use it daily so I’ve gone through it quickly. I always have a candle — I love the Frederick Malle one. Journaling is important for me because my dreams are always so intense and writing them down helps me start the day better. Depending on the season, I’ll keep flowers in the spring or shells in the summer. I usually have a hair clip and lip balm; I love the RMS and Lesse ones.
What’s the last thing you bought?
A linen dress from my friend Brooke Callahan. She came out with a summer collection of very simple pieces, and I bought a nice neutral dress. She’s based in L.A. and used to make glass jewelry, and now she has her own collection. It’s perfect for sweaty New York days, and you can wear anything underneath.
Where did you get the inanimate object that brings you the most joy?
My grandmother gave me her Pisces necklace. She bought it when she was traveling in Turkey, where she travels a lot to visit her friends. She doesn’t wear it anymore, and I’m also a Pisces, so she wanted me to have it because she knows I have a somewhat eccentric style. I only bring it out on special occasions.
Where did you get your favorite piece of clothing?
My Dior shirt is from L Train Vintage. There’s one on Dekalb, and a lot of people don’t go there because it’s out of the way. It had a stain on it, and when I asked for a reduction, they gave me $20 off. I wear it for everything. In the summer, I wore it with a swimsuit, but I also like it at night with a slip dress.
Where did you get the item you wear the most?
The Korb bag I created for my brand. I use our Platte bag a lot too. Korb in German means “basket,” so we wanted to create a basket bag that was for every season and not just summer. We use quite heavy material made of recycled T-shirt yarn. We wanted to make something you can wear to work over the shoulder. It’s been my go-to. It can carry a lot, like a water bottle and a notebook, but at the same time it looks elegant and not like a work bag.
I’m obsessed with lip balm, and I have a Dior Lip Glow. I always have a natural sheer color from RMS because I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I usually keep a shell or crystal in my bag, my keys, my wallet, a face mist in the summer, concealer, and a small book. Right now, I’m reading On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry. Crown Affair also has these little combs I’ve been carrying around.
Where did you get the item you splurged on the most?
My Miu Miu boots are from the Gem app. I wear a lot of black but I love color so this chocolate brown is good. I found a pair of Hermes boots I liked but I wanted to find something similar at a different price so I did some research into the style and found these from Miu Miu. They were an amazing price and they fit perfectly. I wore them with tights and skirts, dresses and fur. I get so many compliments, they’re older but they’re timeless.
Where did you get your signature scent?
Le Labo. I worked for Le Labo, so that’s how I discovered it, I was part of a small team that brought the brand to Germany. When you’re working there, you know what the under-the-counter products are, and with Le Labo, they have city-exclusive scents that are available everywhere else only in September, unless you work there. My favorite is Musc 25 from Los Angeles, which I find interesting because I never felt like it was my city. It’s so pure, but it’s still not too powdery; it’s still quite powerful and complex. I can layer it when I want something with flowers. Secretly, I want to be a perfumer — I don’t know if you can tell.
I’m obsessed with scents in general. I work as a spiritual guide, and I use something different every day. I get my incense from the Noguchi Museum; I like Kungyo Kodo, Nippon Kodo and Nag Champa. Candles are great for a room. I like Le Labo’s Cade 26 and Diptyque’s Tuberose spray. In general, I love essential oils from Whole Foods or natural stores. I have a big selection of scents. They refresh your space and lift the mood.
Where did you get the item that gets complimented the most?
My shell necklace from my friend’s brand P.Nina. I like the lightest one, No. 14. It’s so beautiful. She sells it with a silver chain, though some of them have a silk strap. You can use it as a bracelet, and sometimes I use it as a belt. It looks beautiful and has a beautiful story, but it also has good energy. It’s so eye-catching; I get so many compliments. I wear it with a simple top or deep cleavage.
Where did you get your favorite item to layer?
My sheer slip dress is from Kye Intimates. I love all her pieces. It’s really special and high quality. I wear it layered over her sets sometimes. She has a set that’s a bamboo top and pants. It’s so soft and buttery. I like to layer it because it is kind of see-through but it’s sexy and comfy. I’m also wearing the ikebana bra, and it fits perfectly.