Painfully Hip interviews The Watson Twins: truly, achingly, painfully hip times two

by Mary Catherine

Do you love music? Really good, soulful, music that sometimes has a country spark and sprinkle of folk? Do you love looking at tall, gorgeous girls who are also cool enough to be your best friends? How about two of them? Do you like creative, utterly individual soul-inspiring fashion? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please read on…

the watson twins

Most of you probably already know of the Watson Twins and if you don’t, you can thank me in the comments section after you read this. This indie-folk identical twin twosome first started getting noticed by larger audiences as the striking back-up to Jenny Lewis on her Rabbit Fur Coat record and have since released two solo records, including last years “Fire Songs.” I say striking because let’s face it–two 6′ tall gorgeous brunettes with great style is really fun eye candy for anyone who happens to be human. Also because vocally they seem to have ESP, following one another seemingly by pure instinct, as well as pulling off a crazy range of styles from a 60s soul vibe to a Carter Family-like bluegrass harmonic feast. They really are that good. But you know what else will break your heart? They are two of the nicest, coolest, easiest-to-be-around girls you will ever meet. They know no strangers, and I should know: we’ve been friends most of our lives and I could think of no better examples of what Painfully Hip is about: real individual style, done creatively, smartly and on a budget we can all believe in.

So at the risk of doubling as a Watson Twins’ fan site (see Diana’s fabulous post from yesterday–total coincidence, by the way!), here is my brief interview with the chanteuses–they were so sweet to answer the questions and snap a few shots of each other while hanging out on their current tour in Tuscon. Thank you so crazy much, girls!

(Chandra– top/vest: thrifted; high-waisted jeans: BDG from Urban Outfitters; woven leather belt (unseen): from her Grandma Julia’s closet; steeple boots: thrifted)

Mary Catherine: So, to start, tell us a little about your individual looks. You both obviously look very similar physically, but always utterly cool and stylish. And you each do it differently. What would you say your differences/similarities are?
Leigh: We both love vintage and shopping thrift, but where we go from there is in different directions. I feel like my style is a little more glam maybe, I like lots of bling!! 🙂 Chandra rolls more of the bohemian vibe… but I am slowly showing her that a little bit of shine goes a long way.
Chandra: I am a practical lady at heart and one who likes to be comfy and stylish all at the same time, so when I shop, I am always looking for basic key pieces to build off of… a skirt, shirt, vest, etc. that has a great cut or color… then I’ll pair it with a funky scarf or boots. Soft materials and interesting patterns always catch my eye and I am beginning to learn the ways of accessorizing, thanks to Leigh ☺, it can be very fun.

MC: Do you treat dressing for stage or tours and dressing for everyday life

Leigh: Totally, I take a lot more risks in the real world. I have made too many on-stage mistakes.
Chandra: Lots of things come in to account when dressing for shows. I like to take in to consideration the space, event, type of show, etc. and when we’re on tour you are also limited to the amount of clothes/items you have in your suitcase, so you have to try and get creative with what you have.

(Leigh–nautical onesie: thrifted and hemmed to shorts; scarf: vintage/her aunt’s; boots: vintage/thrifted Men’s Florsheim)

MC: Who inspires you or who are your fashion role models?
Leigh: Mary Catherine Garrison, 70’s Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt etc., Sienna Miller, I think she always has a definitive look even when sometimes it doesn’t hit the perfect mark.
Chandra: Definitely some of those 70’s folk singers come to mind, after all music and fashion tend to go hand in hand.

MC: What are some of your favorite local places to shop?
Leigh: The best stuff I find is usually on the road. Chandra and I try and hit thrift and vintage in our travels. You just never know what the Goodwill in Eerie, PA might have to offer.
Chandra: It’s true, LA can be kinda tough cause there are lots of vintage boutiques… so the thrift stores are often quite picked over. Small towns/cities across the country don’t know what treasures they have! We buy across the country and carry these items back home… add to the madness of our closets and this makes us very happy. It’s also a great reminder of the places we’ve been.

MC: What is your absolute favorite item in your closet right now?
Leigh: Suspenders.
Chandra: Steeple boots.

(Chandra–sweater: thrifted years ago; white t-shirt: ??; skirt: vintage, thrifted and hemmed; tights: h&m; boots: thrifted)

MC: Do you have a favorite or unforgettable fashion moment in your life?
Leigh: I think one of my favorite dresses to date is the one I wore to the opening night of one of your (Mary Catherine’s) Broadway shows…the black number with the painted peacock on the shoulder. A one of a kind, half-baked idea someone made and sold to me at a yard sale.
Chandra: In 5th grade I wore a baby pink Izod, florescent pink knit sweater vest and plaid shorts.

MC: What’s happening in the fashion world right now that you absolutely love?
Leigh: High wasted pants. I know everyone has very strong views about this look, but for my six foot tall bod, I love.
Chandra: Cardigan Sweater Revival, love it.

MC: Worst fashion-move you’ve ever made?

Leigh: Red tights and black short shorts overalls…in theory it works. (see question #2)
Chandra: I think I have successfully blocked them all.

(Leigh–shirt: vintage henley; suspenders: present from Chandra; high-waisted jeans: silence+noise from Urban Outfitters; hat: h&m; boots she bought on tour in Denmark)

MC: Do you either of you have a current favorite outfit?
Leigh: Levis, suspenders and an old school Henley or thermal.
Chandra: Short black full skirt, t-shirt and cardigan sweater.

MC: Who are you listening to right now?
Leigh: Bon Iver. (Secretly obsessed)
Chandra: Bill Withers

MC: Best fashion accessory?

Leigh: Hats.
Chandra: Again… scarves… my obsession.

MC: Any fashion tips/short-cuts you’ve learned and want to share?
Leigh: ACCESORIZE! You can go from plain jane to chic with the right accoutrements.
Chandra: Ditto. Always buy things that are flattering to your shape, good cuts and great materials. Even a simple piece that fits well, something that can be seen as boring, is a great place to start and can be dressed/funked up once you throw on some accessories.

**You can visit the twins at their official site: to see which upcoming tour dates are near you; be their friend on Myspace ; follow them on Twitter and to read about their adventures in touring, in the kitchen, with some of their fabulous friends, and their lives in general, they have a blog here.