Most stylish New Yorkers: Rebecca Brooks

The dancer and teacher mixes vintage hand-me-downs and bold accessories in her eclectic wardrobe.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks scored this cozy patterned poncho at Old Hollywood. "I love its versatility," she explains. She pairs it with her Herms scarf, which was passed down from her grandmother, and a lace cardigan that "I've had forever---maybe a great-aunt made it."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This silk Rag & Bone (locations throughout the city; visit ragandbone.com) jumpsuit is one of Brooks's wardrobe mainstays. "You won't often find me in a skirt, so this is my version of a little black dress," she notes. She's a big fan of the versatile, one-piece garment: "My girlfriend and I are getting married this summer, and I'm looking for a beautiful white jumpsuit---maybe lace and more fitted," she explains. "It's not easy to find. When you look up 'white jumpsuit,' you mostly get pictures of Elvis."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks accessorizes with a mix of vintage and newer pieces, including Herms gold bangles that belonged to her grandmother; a beaded, eco-friendly style created by a childhood friend (facebook.com/pepajewelry); and a jade bracelet that her parents found on a trip to China. "On my left hand, I'm wearing my favorite piece of all: an engagement ring from my girlfriend," she enthuses. "It's a brown diamond in a yellow-gold setting by Satomi Kawakita (satomikawakita.com). We searched far and wide for the perfect ring, and this is definitely it." Her elephant pendant was also passed down from her grandmother. "It's actually ivory with rubies, sapphires, amethysts and an onyx eye," she says. "I definitely have conflicted feelings about wearing it."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    These black Belle by Sigerson Morrison heels are from Bloomingdale's (504 Broadway between Broome and Spring Sts; 212-729-5900, bloomingdales.com). They were a present from her mother, who gave them to Brooks to wear to a gala for Movement Research (movementresearch.org), a nonprofit that she worked at for years. "I made so little money there that my mom felt bad," she explains. "She'd buy me an outfit each year for the gala that I'd spent countless hours working towards. Very sweet."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The plaid-and-houndstooth pants were a Goodwill find, and Brooks estimates that they cost about $2. "I like to shop in the men's section and the plus-size-women's section," she notes. She pairs them with a Woolrich flannel shirt ("I have a family member who designs clothes at Woolrich, so we get pretty good discounts") and a long-sleeved shirt by Chance (chanceco.com).

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks found this R13 gray leather jacket at a Barneys Warehouse Sale. "Before my dad died, he gave me $500, which got me this jacket, having been marked way down from $1,600," she recalls. "I'm quite sure he'd be pleased."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks scored these old-school Nike kicks from Flight Club New York (812 Broadway between 11th and 12th Sts; flightclub.com).

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This quirky necklace featuring an assortment of beads and a bunny charm was made by Brooks's friend Laurie Berg (anotherbergcreation.com). "The shorter necklace is by Kim Ann Foxman---basically every lesbian in Williamsburg from a certain generation has one of Kim Ann's necklaces," says Brooks.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks used this pair of animal-print leggings from Strawberry (locations throughout the city; visit strawberrystores.com) as part of a costume for a dance piece she created over the summer. She matches them with a vintage Ferragamo silk blouse (another hand-me-down from her grandmother), and sweaters from Loehmann's (101 Seventh Ave at 16th St; 212-352-0856, loehmanns.com) and the Gap (locations throughout the city; visit gap.com).

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooks's cozy vintage head scarf, which belonged to her grandmother, is made from cashmere and lined with rabbit fur. "I have a matching cardigan and pants---yes, cashmere pants," she explains. "They're so impractical but so warm." She adds a pop of color to her pout using her favorite lipstick, MAC's Lady Danger. "MAC has the best cosmetics, both for stage makeup and for everyday looks," she notes.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Although she doesn't remember exactly when she got these Frye (113 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts; 212-226-3793, thefryecompany.com) boots, Brooks estimates they're "from around 2004, when everyone was wearing this style."

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Brooks scored this cozy patterned poncho at Old Hollywood. "I love its versatility," she explains. She pairs it with her Herms scarf, which was passed down from her grandmother, and a lace cardigan that "I've had forever---maybe a great-aunt made it."

Rebecca Brooks, 31; "dance artist" and Alexander Technique teacher (rebeccakelleybrooks.com); Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Her personal style: "I put on what I like and what feels good. A lot of my clothes and accessories sort of fell into my lap; I didn't go out and choose them. I improvise with what I have."

Her inspiration: "I live just off the Bedford Avenue catwalk, so I can't leave my apartment without being confronted by someone's heartfelt fashion creation. It's unavoidable and fun."

Favorite stores: "Bird (203 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-1655 * 220 Smith St at Butler St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-797-3774 * 316 Fifth Ave between 2nd and 3rd Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-768-4940 * shopbird.com) has such lovely pieces; I like to go in there even when I can't afford anything, just to ogle the patterns and paw the textures. Old Hollywood (250 Broome St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts, 646-454-0166 * 99 Franklin St between Greenpoint Ave and Milton St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-389-0837 * oldhollywoodmoxie.com) has a really refined collection, and of course, there's always Beacon's Closet (10 W 13th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 917-261-4863 * 88 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-0816 * 92 Fifth Ave at Warren St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-230-1630 * beaconscloset.com). Otherwise, I get everything from the Goodwill in Newark, New Jersey—on half-price Wednesdays, you can basically fill two garbage bags for, like, $50—or at clothing exchanges amongst my friends."

Her signature accessory: "My blue-and-gold Herms wool scarf. I've worn it nearly every nonsweltering day since I inherited it."

How her style has evolved: "I started thrifting about 20 years ago, much to my mother's dismay, and I still do. I've always incorporated loads of hand-me-downs. When I was a kid, they were from my sister, and now they're pieces inherited from my grandmother, who was a certain kind of uptown fashionista. When she died several years ago, she left behind closets full of big-name flashy things, and neither my sister nor my mom really liked much of her stuff. Lucky me!"

Her favorite stylist: "Katy Pyle (katypyle.tumblr.com) has cut my hair for years at her apartment. She used to give me an ever-so-slightly different bowl cut every month. For a while, we made dances together, and she would cut our hair in exactly the same style for performances. She's usually blond; I'm brunette. It's a classic pairing."

How her career influences her style: "I spend much of my day rehearsing, wearing plain sweatpants or leggings, ragged tops, leg-warmers, scarves around my torso to stay warm...that kind of thing. Very unglamorous. When I'm teaching the Alexander Technique, I dress very plainly. That work is really about making space for the individual student's growth, so I purposefully disappear into the background. My students will be surprised to see me in this magazine, that's for sure!"

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