Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
You can spot a Sasha Cohen look from all the way across the rink: There’s a good chance it’s got a deep V with an equally low back, heavy but never egregious beading, and a fluttering skirt and sleeves to match, all topped with a side part, ballet bun, and statement lip. That’s probably because she designed them all herself.
The 2006 Olympic silver medalist — who once had an entire episode of Project Runway devoted to her — has long been known as one of the sport’s most fashionable skaters. But now that she’s no longer Sasha-spinning in competition, she’s had to learn to dress like an everyday New Yorker (well, as “everyday” as a famous Olympian can be).
While checking out Old Navy’s official Winter Olympics accessories collection in Times Square recently, Racked caught up with Cohen about the transition from athlete- to regular-person clothes, being a total skincare junkie, and her favorite dresses from programs past.
How has skating influenced your own personal style?
My sister makes fun of me all the time because for day-to-day, I’m in Lululemon or workout gear or leggings — stuff that’s really comfy and that I can wear to yoga or to run outside. Then at night, I still have that skating performance mentality where you dress up — it’s perfect hair and makeup, your costume that you designed. I think I’ve been working more on my day-to-day work fashion. That “in-between” look was something I never had to do until I moved to New York and started working.
Everything in New York is always an “in-between” thing!
Exactly! I’ve had to learn to dress for work and daytime casual, but I feel like from years and years of training and competing, putting a whole year into designing an outfit and a look for each program, each musical piece, that part came more natural for me.
You’re known for always looking amazing on the ice — and you designed everything yourself!
I did. I would pick out the music, and then while I was doing the choreography I would just be sketching, sketching, sketching for a few months, and then I’d meet with a costumer designer. We would go through bead samples and dye samples and fabric samples, and then he’d start to construct this living piece.
Does that transfer over into your life now?
In skating, you literally have two outfits: your short program and your long program. They have to stretch and move and breathe and read on the ice.
But now, I feel like The Kooples has been my go-to. It’s that classic black New Yorker look with a little bit of edge. Fashion has been fun for me. It’s a whole new awakening of fashion in the real world versus fashion on the ice.
You were always known for having these gorgeous deep V-neck skating dresses. Where did that come from?
I think it’s always flattering to have a good deep V. It makes you look taller and makes your chest look a little more full, your shoulders look a little more open, similar to the style of ballet. I would also always look at wedding catalogs.
Do you have a favorite look from competition?
I think my “Romeo and Juliet” dresses, both the one I wore at Nationals and then in the Olympics. They were reflections of each other: One was pale gold with copper beading, and the other was deep, rich burgundy velvet with copper beading. I loved the whooshing of the skirt. It had the delicate beadwork of high fashion, but it was still a skating dress.
And you always did the side part with the low bun. How long would that take you to do?
My hair was actually pretty quick. You part it on the side, you put it into a ballerina bun with a million bobby pins so it doesn’t go anywhere, and hairspray it to within an inch of its life. That was pretty easy. In skating and ballet, we always have to do our own hair and makeup — unlike at a fashion or TV shoot, where you have a whole staff doing everything. That is something I think I learned to do very well.
What are some of your go-to beauty products?
Really good liquid eyeliner. Right now I use Lancôme; it goes on really well. A defined brow is also very important. I use the Benefit brow stick and brow gel. I have naturally pink cheeks and when you’re exercising they get even more pink, so I stay away from blush, always.
Which is funny, because the stereotypical skater thing is, like, huge blush.
I would turn into a clown caricature if I wore blush!
How about your skincare routine?
Oh, I’m very into skincare. I think I got that from my mom. In a city like New York, it’s very different in the summer, when it’s humid, than in the winter, when it’s dry. So in the winter I use La Mer and creamy cleansers. In the summer, gels or beaded cleansers and super-light moisturizers like SK-II. And a lot of sunblock. Sunblock always.
Any winter products you swear by?
In my ice-skating days it used to be Uggs, but you can’t really do that here in the snow and the rain. I like Stuart Weitzman boots and a warm Kooples coat. If I’m not going out on the weekends, I wear cashmere. I’m used to that from my skating days — that was the only thing that saved me in the ice rink.
What is the last thing that you bought for yourself that you really loved?
I just signed up for Birchbox yesterday, and I love them! I love getting this gift every month, and I travel so much, so I love sample sizes.
Do you have any really weird shopping or beauty habits?
This interview has been edited and condensed.