GET YOUR GLAMOUR ON: TALKING TO FASHION WITCH GABY HERSTIK
A spell can take unexpected forms: freshly shaved scalp, dramatic all black, killer heels. Add a dash of leather, an o-ring belt or choker, an impeccable cat eye. Finish with a blindly bright red or orange lip. It’s a signature look —and a summoning spell—for Gaby Herstik, fashion witch. Known for her monthly NYLON column, “Ask A Witch!” as much as her tarot inspired styling, Herstik covers a beat that extends over the occult and fashion, as well as her gig writing full time as the Latinx culture writer for Hello Giggles. She’s just announced a book project with Ebury Random House for next year, to help witches find their own particular brand of magic. For now, she’s here to chat about bring the spiritual and the material together in enchanting ways.
For Herstik, fashion should be empowerment. “It’s a privilege to be who you are,” she explains, “so if you have it, take advantage!” We present our selves to the world in the way we dress and do our hair, the makeup and the jewelry. It’s glamorous, but it’s also a glamour— an intentional veil to make reality appear to be something entirely different. Herstik explains that she thinks of this as just as true in fashion. We think of this kind of glamour as something out of fairytales, but it’s also a part of our daily routine. “Glamour is curated beauty, a version of yourself you shape so others see you in a light that you wish them to. For me, my glamour is a glamour; but it’s also an extension of who I am and a way in which I continue to have bodily sovereignty. By presenting myself in a certain way, I’m forcing people to see my through a lens of my choosing. That’s a glamour!”
It’s as much an intuitive practice as a deliberate one. Sometimes she knows what she wants to wear the night before, sometimes it’s a bit more spontaneous. If she wakes up with no clue, sometimes Herstik will draw her daily tarot card for inspiration before she does her makeup. “My magick, and fashion sense, is intuitive so they play together. I use fashion as spiritual armor.”
She also tries to approach stocking her closet with intention, avoiding fast fashion in favor of vintage. Shopping vintage, she says, is like helping clothes reincarnate. Color magick is a part of channeling the energy of day too, for a closet as symbolically rich as any tarot deck. The space gets smoke cleansed with sage and palo santo. Sometimes, the next day’s outfit rests altar overnight with crystals on it. She’s even experimented with sigils as a way to protect and bless her clothing.
Those of us don’t wake up flawless do a little magic before we leave each morning. For this witch, the practice is explicit. Describing her morning routine, she notes that she tries to keep the moon in mind as she gets ready for the day, “That affects how I dress and do my makeup. If the moon is in Scorpio, which is what my moon is in, I’ll wear something that makes me feel sexy and powerful. If it’s in Cancer, I’ll wear something that connects me to my heart, like a flowing dress or a rose quartz necklace.”
Herstik wakes around 7:20 am with stretching and washing up. She checks on the moon phases, and does her makeup accordingly. “If I don’t know what to wear or how to do my makeup I’ll draw my tarot card first, finding inspiration in that message.” After breakfast, she pulls a tarot card and then meditates on it before getting dressed. An outfit or makeup selfie is as much a part of the ritual as the outfit itself, and then she’s ready to head out the door.
Fashion has been a part of Herstik’s life almost as long as her craft. She grew up in a household that encouraged spirituality, with mother who introduced her to yoga and a rabbi for a father. It was a trip to Salem as a third grader provided a window into witchcraft. “I went to Salem on Halloween, and saw my first ritual there. I went to the witchcraft museum where I stood in front of a robotic figure that told me about the rule of three and the wiccan rede. I felt something shift in my soul.” A few years later, Herstik received a faery oracle deck, bought A Witches Guide to Faery Folk. By the time she was studying for her Bat Mitzvah, she considered herself both pagan and a witch.
Later aspects of fashion wore themselves into her craft. “There are certain accessories and pieces of clothing I bought growing up that I had an energetic connection with… I realized later on that these were intertwined with my magick and energy.” She bounce with adolescence enthusiasm from dreams of fashion design to modeling, eventually settling on fashion writing. She looking back, she now sees the craft and fashion as intrinsically related.
“Fashion has allowed me to redefine who I am every single day,” she enthuses. “I think it’s a magick on it’s own and I know that for me it’s true because I feel different in a good outfit.” It is magick that has grown her confidence in incredible ways, helped her discover herself at both a physical and spiritual level. Through social media, she’s happy to share this journey with others, and hears back from them in return. When other people share their stories and magic, it never fails to make her emotional. “It always makes me cry, it’s still unreal, but I think that’s part of the magick too. When we wake up and when we allow people to see that, we allow other people to wake up too.”
As much as she loves living in just her skyclad skin, it’s not usually the appropriate outfit for going out. “I love being naked, but that doesn’t fly, so fashion magick is something I do every day. It grows with me as I grow!”