Emma finds stuff, she finds stuff because she needs to find stuff. We see her as one of those ladies who thrives off connecting the pieces of different cultural influences. Before following her on Instagram we saw her pop up in the comment feeds of many tastemakers who string together the style/culture community. Emma's one of a kind Instagram presence is endearing and very uninhibited — her witty yet thoughtful commentary is never not engaging. If you are ever so lucky to receive a pop-up notification from @emmahager it is a sign that you are doing something right.
We can tell you pull ideas from all different people and forms. How did you happen upon your strongest influences? I find that the music, art, etc. that I love now stemmed from a band or a writer I became familiar with in my early years. From gathering what inspired them I found a whole new world, possibly a better world.
I do pull a lot from all people and forms, this is true! For the most part, I find myself intrigued by people, places, things, quite easily. Whatever, or whoever, reshapes my perceptions of something I think I know — that’s what I look for! As in, how can I look at the ordinary, or the quotidian, in an appealing way?
But to get to your main question! I think I happened about my strongest influences through growing up in California — and the West more broadly. We did a lot of family road trips when I was young, so I’ve come to associate particular landscapes to emotions, or moments or time, or the like. In that way, the writing that I like to read — most obviously that of fellow California girl, Joan Didion — is generally deeply influenced by the terrain. I always refer back to Willa Cather’s My Antonia or Mary Hunter Austin’s The Land of Little Rain when I am trying to be clearer or simpler in my own writing. This is because there is a clarity of language that I think only traversing various topographies can conjure!
And of course, California’s weather is quite conducive to my love of frilly vintage dresses. I am quite lucky in that way to be very fickle and fictive with my style. The temperate climate means I get to be a clothes chameleon.
What literary characters inspire your wardrobe? What are some of your favorite books?
Oh, good question! You know, it’s funny, I love fashion and I love literature, and yet I never really think about fashion in a literary context! This is silly, though, because of course fashion colors the pages of most great books. And I think books have influenced my own wardrobe because — to refer to it again — I can only imagine that my #PrairieCore affinities have come from the pages of my favorite book, My Antonia. There are many a ruffled cotton dress in my mind’s eye when I read that book!
Some of my other favorite books include, fiction-wise: Speedboat by Renata Adler, The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and any compilation of Lydia Davis’s short stories.
And in terms of nonfiction: The White Album by Joan Didion, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Memoir by William Finnegan, to name just a couple!
Do you find that the different phases of style that you have been through — no matter how far off they are from your style now — led you to this point? Tell us about journey and evolution of Emma's style (haha, but really)?
Actually, I think my style has been oddly consistent — save for the moments that it’s not. I think this is because my strongest influences, which you inquired about earlier, have really stuck with me. My appreciation for long, floral dresses will presumably remain with me for as long as I like to read about, and imagine, Joni Mitchell et al in Laurel Canyon. Still, there are periods when I’ve tried to become more streamlined, more uniformed. But my heart is too fickle for that! Right now I am quite into pairing Dickies pants and skate shoes with ruffle-y tops, or even under dresses. This merging feels quite natural, too, as I very much love to dance between both my ladylike proclivities and my somewhat bro-ish sensibilities, ha!
You are a finder. Tell us abut your most recent Instagram finds that have sparked your inspiration.
Instagram is truly the best. It’s quite useful, I think. And I usually just do the general rabbit hole-type search. You know, where you find one person you’d like to follow — a writer, an artist, a beautiful stranger — and then you follow their friends, etc. There’s really no way out!
But more recently, I’ve been quite obsessed with @beachbrains, which is a New Zealand brand with amazing surf-skate basics, @desertoracle, a Joshua Tree-based lit mag, and then Norwegian brand, @broraugust.
The brands serve as inspiration for repurposing the pieces in my own wardrobe, and then the Desert Oracle instagram is comprised of really great images of joshua trees against the backdrops of rising and setting suns! I think I’d like to pull a Georgia O’Keeffe one day and wear a wide-brimmed and live in the desert…
We know you as @emmahager, but we want to know more about your day to day life, who you are and what you want to do?
Well, right now I’m a 20 year old English literature major! It’s great. I love school! During the school year, my day-to-day life really is quite simple: I go to class, study a bit, cook dinner with friends, read, write. Simple — but kind and good in that way. I also always try to write for the internet when I can! Places like Man Repeller, and so on! That’s very fun. I am very happy to have the opportunity to do so.
Ideally, I’d write for a living. But I realize increasingly that such a living takes talent, hard work, resilience, and perhaps a little bit of luck. There are so many great writers out there, too. Still, I’d love to write about people and the places that shape them. Or fashion, but through a more critical or contextual lens!
We’ll see how this all pans out…