You’ll always be our first, Katie.

By Laura Reilly
Updated Jan 30, 2020 @ 5:15 pm
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I Google the Khaite cashmere bra every day. Which means, every day, I’m standing at the precipice of a $520 purchase that my financial state would deem “highly inadvisable.” And yet, there I go, Googling it every. damn. day.

It’s not just the particular set of arranged yarns that’s driving my obsession — it’s the allure of an entire lifestyle, one that Katie Holmes invented when she invented cashmere bras simply by wearing one. In that shutter of an instant, Holmes demonstrated to the whole internet who the modern woman could be.

Unpacking that fall 2019 paparazzi shot, I pieced together the manifesto conveyed in every element of Katie’s accidental renaissance masterpiece of just exactly who that woman is:

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Clearly, she’s at ease. To her, a cardigan casually slipping down a tanned, toned shoulder is simply a part of life, a life in which she’s so in-the-present she doesn’t even open her phone to call an Uber, but hails a cab instead. She’s purposeful, knowledgeable, and discerning. (My after-the-fact insider knowledge that she purchased the Khaite bra and cardigan set herself — rather than had it gifted — inspires disproportionate respect.) The double cashmere tells us her comfort comes first; fashion should serve her, not the other way around. This is a woman who makes a $520 cashmere bra seem like a wise investment. She’s cunning, perhaps.

And so it was of great interest to me that, just this week, a second public figure introduced us to, yes, another cashmere set. In a cashmere bralette and cashmere stirrup leggings (!) by Mandkhai, a Bottega Venetta blazer and sandals, and a By Far bag and Jennifer Fisher hoops, Hailey Bieber blazed in Katie Holmes’s footsteps.

If we give Hailey’s recent look the same forensic treatment we thrust upon Katie’s, we’ll see that their Venn diagram is almost a complete circle: cool, assertive, sexy yet extremely comfortable. No other outfit can convey the same level of laid-back luxury and self-assurance as several articles of this cozy textile at once. That’s the power of a cashmere bra set.

While Katie’s bra-cardi set adds up to $2,200 and is in various states of sold-out across the web, Hailey’s bra-leggings duo lands at a more “manageable” $640. I know, I can practically feel my accountant’s anxious voicemail coming (hi, Eliot!), and for what? All because cashmere apparently has an EFFECT on me?

I don’t ultimately believe that because I can’t responsibly afford either celebrity-minted cashmere set, I’m ineligible to be the kind of person who would wear a cashmere set. I don’t believe fashion’s communicative powers are rooted in wealth. So, in place of those exact pieces, I’m reaching for styles that paint the same broad, identifying strokes as a Khaite bra or Mandkhai stirrup leggings without the exclusive price tags.

This rambling thesis needs to end somewhere, so I’ll end it here, with a bunch of Katie Holmes-Hailey Bieber fancy-lady-energy cashmere (or not!) bra-like pieces you (and I) can buy at an inclusive range of prices below.

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Khaite Eda Cashmere Bralette
Shop now:
$520; bergdorfgoodman.com

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Kiki de Montparnasse Intime Bralette
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$125; nordstrom.com

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Kiki de Montparnasse Cashmere Bralette
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$275; zappos.com

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Baserange Mississippi Triangle Bra
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$32 (Originally $80); net-a-porter.com

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Dion Lee Pinnacle Ribbed Cropped Top
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$250; farfetch.com

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Eckhaus Latta Ribbed Knit Cropped Vest
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$310; farfetch.com

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COS Cashmere Wool Knitted Bra
Shop now:
$69; cosstores.com