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If you came of age in the aughts, you’re likely already familiar with Aly & AJ. The blonde siblings were Disney darlings with both chart-topping hits (“Potential Breakup Song,” anyone?) and TV roles (from Phil of the Future to Cow Belles) under their belts. They even toured with Miley Cyrus — back when she still went by Hannah Montana, that is.
After parting ways with Disney’s Hollywood Records in 2010, Aly and AJ Michalka turned to acting full-time; Aly’s a series regular on iZombie, and you can catch AJ on The Goldbergs. It seemed like the Michalka sisters were done with music forever — until this past September, when they released “Take Me,” their first song in 10 years.
Today, they shared another single, “I Know,” from their upcoming EP, aptly titled Ten Years. The duo describes the four-song release, out November 17th, as “very sonically consistent” with the first two singles, which is great news for those obsessed with the sisters’ new ’80s synth-pop sound. And as it turns out, Aly and AJ are looking to past decades not only for musical inspiration, but also for style cues. Below, they discuss dressing like vampires, keeping in touch with the Disney crew, and the 2000s trends they’d love to bring back.
Let’s start by talking about your “Take Me” video, because I’m obsessed with the aesthetic.
AJ: Aly and I definitely wanted to make a statement with this album, both musically and through fashion. We work with an amazing stylist, Chris Horan; we’ve known him for years, but only just started working together. And honestly, between him, Aly and I, and our director, we were all just like, “Why not high-fashion vampires?” [Laughs]
There’s this incredible young designer we found, Harris Reed, who actually custom-designed those two pink tops for us. He’s super sweet, and a true artist — he models all his own clothes on Instagram. A real up-and-coming gem. Aly and I wanted to showcase his work in the video, and we ended up looking like these glam ’80s vampires, which is exactly what we wanted!
Tell me about your personal styles. Are they similar? Different?
Aly: They definitely mesh well. As we’ve gotten older, I think we’ve become more confident in our fashion choices. We’ve always been big believers of the idea that less is more; I don’t think we always stood by that idea when we were 15 and 16, layering dresses over jeans and wearing way too much jewelry! But I don’t look back at past outfit choices and feel embarrassed by them.
I think AJ is a little more dressy than I am; like, any excuse to dress casual, I’ll take. I always think it’s better to be underdressed than overdressed.
AJ: But! I feel like even though you’re more casual in general, you go bolder with your statements. I’m dressier overall, but Aly will make style choices that are a little more left of center than I would — in a good way, of course.
We’re pretty good about sharing clothes, too, although I go into her closet more than she goes into mine. If we’re getting ready for an event, I’ll definitely go and borrow a pair of shoes or something.
You two were everywhere in the aughts. Are there any trends from that era that you look back on and cringe — or wish would come back?
AJ: I remember that low-rise jeans were everywhere; those are so not a thing anymore. Remember Frankie B? Those jeans were so low, you couldn’t bend over without showing your butt crack. Not okay!
Honestly, stuff like low-rise jeans and Juicy tracksuits can stay in the past. I don’t want them coming back. I’m trying to think of an actually cute 2000s trend that I miss...
Aly: Jellies and chokers are both definitely back. Remember those stretchy tattoo chokers? I still have some! I don’t even know if those are considered acceptable anymore, but every once in a while, when I want to feel like a 10-year-old again, I’m gonna throw on my tattoo choker.
AJ: I’m also into anklets and toe rings — foot accessories! I’d love to see more of those. Especially anklets; they’re so pretty. I feel like they could definitely come back.
Aly: I wear an anklet all the time! A little delicate one. They let me keep it on for iZombie.
Any 2000s beauty trends you feel strongly about?
AJ: I have mixed feelings about this, but the amount of glitter that Aly and I used to wear on our faces was pretty amazing. We had the roll-on glitter — you know, you’d literally just roll it across your cheeks and on your eyelids? Really aggressive, thick glitter. It was probably horrible for our skin.
Aly: And so sticky!
AJ: Yes! So, like, definitely not a great thing to bring back. But at the same time, the kid in me would love to see a modern version done properly. Like, if Glossier came out with a line of sparkly stuff that was gentle on your skin... they’re the company that could nail it.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your Disney days?
Aly: We do! We’re good friends with Brenda Song and Vanessa Hudgens. I’ve known Brenda since she was 14; we were on Phil of the Future together. And with Vanessa, we initially met on a movie, and have just always stayed in touch.
AJ: It would be interesting to see Miley after all these years. We toured together, and we always remained friends — we just kind of lost touch. It’d be cool to connect with her again; she was always so sweet. I feel like we all kind of grew up together.
Aly: The Disney world is an interesting place to spend part of your childhood. Obviously, there are amazing perks about working for a company like Disney; when you’re a kid, you’re so stoked that you get to go to the park for free and all that. But there’s also a lot of pressure growing up under that microscope. You have to remind yourself that you’re an employee, that it’s a job.
AJ: You have to be kind of picky about your next move, too — you don’t want to be everywhere, but you want to position it so your career can keep building. It’s important to be able to say yes and no to the right things. You’d better have a great team during that transition; otherwise, you’re going to feel really lost. It really helped that Aly and I had each other so that we could make those decisions together.
Do you two shop together often?
Aly: AJ and I actually just did a big shopping trip up in Vancouver at my favorite store on Earth, One of a Few. It’s an amazing little shop, super special. The designers they carry are amazing, and AJ and I just went nuts.
AJ: I ended up getting this Rachel Comey trench coat. It’s almost floor-length, and it’s gorgeous. I realized that I didn’t have a beautiful trench yet — and, you know, you could get a Burberry trench, or you can get one that you’ll never see anyone else wearing, like this one. It was definitely expensive, but I feel like I’ll wear it forever.
I also got this really cool plastic crossbody bag by Building Block. It’s tiny, so it basically only holds your phone, cash, and credit cards. But it’s perfect for festivals and concerts; I’ve been going to a lot of shows lately, and it’s my new concert bag.
Aly: I really love jeans — and definitely already have my staple pairs that I wear all the time — but I fell in love with this pair there that I had to get. They’re pleated and high-waisted, with a little white plastic button. They’re by Ilana Kohn. I love her stuff; she makes really fantastic, minimalist staple pieces.
I’m also a huge fan of Paloma Wool, which makes beautiful clothes in really small collections. Their stuff is so special and interesting, like shirts hand-painted with pictures of women’s bodies. It’s like wearing a piece of art.
What’s the most precious thing in both of your closets?
Aly: I have this gorgeous antique Indian sapphire necklace that I got in Venice while I was on my honeymoon; we walked into this tiny treasure trove of a shop that sold beautiful Syrian trunks and Indian jewelry, and I saw it. It cost about $3,000; it’s the most expensive jewelry I own besides my wedding ring. My husband was like, “You have to buy this necklace” — which is funny because it’s the last thing he’d normally say. It’s a really special piece.
Also, my Chanel creepers. They’re baby blue and just fantastic. It’s funny — I don’t even wear them that much because they get dirty so easily. I’m always obsessively cleaning them. But I always joke that they’re one of the few things I’d grab if I was running out of the house, if there were an emergency.
AJ: For me, it’s this gorgeous antique ring that my mom bought me. It’s a little bit of a sore subject for Aly, though, because our mom also got her an antique ring around the same time, and Aly lost hers in New York. Sorry, Aly.
Other than that, there’s this Rodarte bomber that I got last year — they didn’t make that many of them — and it’s this beautiful, silky forest green with 3D lace sleeves. It’s not the kind of thing you can wear all the time, but it’s really interesting and different. I’d definitely have to grab that.
Aly: I love that we turned this into a house-fire scenario, by the way. Super dark. I’d probably have to grab a few of my favorite vintage dresses, too — the really special ones.
Ooh! Any vintage recs?
AJ: In Los Angeles, we love Scout on Melrose.
Aly: Yeah, it’s pretty phenomenal. And we love going to A Current Affair, the pop-up vintage market. I have at least 10 different pieces from there that are so special. It’s a full day of shopping; you’ve got to have, like, six hours to spend going through all the racks.
AJ: It’s like fashion Coachella!