Well, it’s officially bikini season. And who better to give us the scoop on a beach-ready wardrobe than a bona fide Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model? Cue Julie Henderson, the blonde Texan bombshell who’s appeared in the issue a whopping five years in a row, in addition to campaigns for Benetton and Tommy Bahama. With gigs all over the world, the self-described “jeans and t-shirt kind of girl” spends much of her time living out of a meticulously-packed suitcase and her treasured clos-ette too... Travel Jewelry Case. But don’t feel too sorry for her – more often than not, her “office” is a gorgeous beach, and she’s got the bikini collection to prove it.
© Mark Oblow, bastasurf.com
We stole a few minutes with the supermodel to chat about favorite brands, her dream closet, and the best way to show off a summer tan.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say my personal style is pretty basic, simple and classic. I’m a big fan of comfort – so if it’s not really comfortable, I don’t really want to wear it. But I love my nice pieces that are a little bit more over-the-top. I like to wear them when it’s a special occasion.
What pieces can’t you live without?
I love J-Brand jeans –their skinny jeans are so amazing. For a regular t-shirt, I buy all these American Apparel t-shirts because they get ruined when I’m location on the beach, or I lose them. But if I’m not on location or in the studio, I love James Perse’s basic tees or tank tops.
You’re currently designing a new closet. What features were important to you?
I just needed to be able to see everything. I hate when you think of this one dress, and you’re like, where the heck did it go? I want to be able to know where everything is, and see all my options and how to put an outfit together. I’m trying to make a shoe rack so I can see all my shoes, rather than guessing what’s in each box, and relying on my memory and imagination. So that was my biggest concern when putting my closet together – I just want to be able to see what I have.
[clos-ette too... Signature Hangers will be the perfect addition to Julie’s completed closet]
Henderson’s classic evening look
Are you more of pack rat or a neat freak?
I’m a good combination of both. When I had to move all my clothes into boxes, I went through everything to donate a lot and start fresh. I found t-shirts that I’ve had probably since high school. I was like, ‘am I really going to wear this again? But I kind of like it though!’ You know, you have that battle in your head. So my rule was if I hadn’t worn it from a year to 18 months, then I’m getting rid of it. It’s funny though, because I have a pair of pants that I always travel in, because they’re the most comfortable things ever – I’ve had them since I was a sophomore in high school, and I still fit in them and I still love them. That’s why I’m like ‘I don’t know – should I throw it away? Can I bring it back?’ Then I’m like, ‘you know what, Julie? NO.’
We can only imagine your swimwear collection. How do you store it?
The thing with my job is that even when it’s a blizzard in New York, I’m always on some sort of beach location – so I don’t really put away any of my beach gear. I have a designated drawer of just nothing but bikinis. Organizing that was a tricky one, because you have two pieces of each suit – so I had, for a while, a big pile of mismatched bikinis that I had to dig through. I took the time to tie the tops to the bottoms, and folded them up. Then I laid them out in one drawer, so I can see each bikini.
A sneak peak inside Henderson’s “bikini drawer”
What’s your favorite swimwear brand?
I’m kind of loving Basta, designed by a friend of mine. It’s more of like a surfer girl style of bikinis, and they’re actually made for surfers. They’re durable, so you can jump in a pool or the ocean, and not worry about your top flying off. And they’re really cute, because one side will be one color and then the other side is another color, so you can mix and match within the same suit.
© Mark Oblow, bastasurf.com
What are your must-haves for this summer?
One is a big floppy hat. Right now I’m really into orange swimwear – not like burnt orange, but a strong orange. And then you always have to have your little white dress for summer. You’ve got to show that tan off somehow!
What are your top tips for packing?
I just always try to pack the essentials: a good pair of jeans, a blazer, a few tanks, and then every once in a while, I’ll throw in a funky pair of shoes to kick up the outfit. I’m really organized in my suitcase in terms of what goes where, to try to make the most of the space that I can. I use the clos-ette too... Travel Jewelry Case all the time. I love it!
Whose closet would you like to raid?
I would have to say Valerie Boster’s. I love her style – she can go from tomboy to uber-glam in like 30 seconds. Every time I see her, no matter what she’s wearing, I’m like, ‘I could never imagine putting that outfit together’. And it will be just a cut-off pair of shorts with some cool sandals, but she just makes it so cool. She could probably go into anybody’s closet and just totally style them up. I would love to raid her closet and have her style.