We at Affinity deeply love dresses, so whenever we meet anyone who shares our passion we have to learn more! And that's how we met Catherine Cason, founder of minimal, luxury silk dress line, basiccontent. We found her story, attitude and perspective so inspiring, we couldn't wait to share it. Read below to learn more about Catherine, how she started her line and – of course – check out her picks of lust-worthy silk dresses.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I have always worked in the retail industry. Smart people are versatile and can do a lot of things, but you have to find the language that suits you best. My language is retail. It is super satisfying to me because, as a merchant, I get to influence all aspects of the business. It also get to put physical products out in the stores and go see people enjoy them.
I think I always had an entrepreneur in me; I’ve always had energy to produce something else beyond my 9-5 job. If you ever listen to Gary Vaynerchuk he likes to say things like, “stop watching Lost, and make something.” It makes you laugh, but it’s true. I never wanted to come home from work and watch TV. That instinct led me to my company, basiccontent.
Tell us the story behind Basiccontent...
Four years ago I lost my job. In the downtime between applications and interviews, I was really unhappy not working. A friend gave me the advice to set a new personal goal each week. One week I decided that I would get into the NY Times Street Style section. The first theme was houndstooth. I didn’t own any, and I didn’t want to buy anything because I was unemployed so I went to Jo-Ann Fabric and made a dress on my mom’s sewing machine. I made it in the Street Style section on the first try.
That worked, so I started making a new dress each week and blogging about it. Over time, the dresses got much better, and I fell in love with wearing silk. The fabric is so magical - it feels amazing! Lightweight, sexy, breathable. My fast-fashion polyester clothes started spending most of their time hanging out in the back of the closet.
Soon after, I also started getting rid of a lot of stuff generally. I became a more conscious consumer - focused on having fewer, better-made things. I was wearing my silk dresses pretty frequently and friends would always beg me to make them a dress. At that point I thought this might have potential as a business.
The funny thing is, what held me back for a long time was that I couldn’t think of name. And then one night basiccontent came to me and I felt like it was time to get started. I love the name because basiccontent is all about redefining the basics you own. We realized there is this opportunity to create on-trend, minimal-design clothing, ethically and at a fair price. We invest in high-quality fabric that the consumer can really feel. That is really what we are about – on-trend designs, where we trade off excess construction for luxury fabrics.
What do you love about your job?
The best thing about basiccontent is that I am learning new things. It’s important to constantly be challenging yourself to learn something new. Starting your own company definitely helps with that. My second favorite thing is meeting new people. Before I started the company, I was in a place in my life where I wasn’t really meeting a lot of new people. Working on basiccontent has led me to connect with so many inspiring, amazing people.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced or the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
When I first started working every criticism, annoying co-worker or thing that went wrong really got to me. I would be a nervous wreck all the time. I just absorbed everything. As I got older I learned not to take it all so personally. My job didn’t define who I was. I developed the strength to be very zen in my job, no matter how many fires are burning. I like to say I am “bomb-proof.” It’s a term for a horse - you can light a bomb next to them and they won’t flinch. If I can overcome it, I can overcome a lot of other things as well.
Tell us your personal philosophy in 10 words or less...
Expensive shoes, loose luxury clothing, breathable fabrics, and lots of rings.
Tell us a bit about your style...
Wear a good pair of shoes and no one will second-guess your clothes. I definitely believe in that. Shoes are my weakness; you will never catch me in a cheap pair of shoes. Your feet are too important to wear bad shoes. Right now I really like Lanvin flats, and I have a soft spot for Manolo Blahniks. I pair good shoes with one of my basiccontent designs and I can pretty much go anywhere. I prefer a more minimal style, so I don’t really wear bracelets or necklaces anymore. It muddies up my outfits. I love lots of rings and a big scarf.
How has your industry influenced your style?
It has definitely made me a more conscious consumer. I try to subscribe to the “fewer, better” philosophy. I only buy things I love and pieces that will last. I am very fabric conscious. I don’t like wearing any synthetic blends, so that definitely plays into my purchases.
What’s your power outfit and why?
My go-to outfit is my basiccontent flutter dress. It is heaven. I pair it with my Manolo Blahnik mary janes and all my diamond stacking bands.
What are your favorite brands or stores?
My favorite designer is Lanvin. I have a soft spot for designers that work with silk. Lanvin is the master of silk. I also think they do a great job making clothes that are feminine without being overtly sexy.
Tell us about a recent fashion discovery that excited you...
When I got the invite to try Affinity I was immediately excited. There is so much great fashion out there. Having a way to help cull through it while focused on my unique style hooked me right away. I also have a personal motto “love dresses, hate pants.” It’s true. So I was naturally excited to see what I could find.