The StyleLikeU Youtube channel started in 2009 with a series called “Closets,” featuring friends of mother-daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum; people who they admired, and whose style they loved. It wasn’t until 2014, when their viral “What’s Underneath” project began, that things began to really kick off. Featuring women from all backgrounds and careers, those interviewed speak about their life stories and the challenges they’ve faced, intermittently removing items of clothing until just their underwear is left. Difficult subjects are often broached, and the content is highly relatable. At their most vulnerable, mentally and physically, the women are asked, “Why is in your body a good place to be?” The answers vary from the earnest to the humorous, but are all equally significant.

After collaborations with style magazine Allure and lingerie brand Chantelle, Elisa, Lily, and Mona, the third member of their team, are currently travelling around Europe, filming future episodes for “What’s Underneath.” Their debut book, True Style is What’s Underneath, has just been released, while they also have a documentary on the way.

In Berlin this week to film as part of StyleLikeU’s international exploration, Elisa and Lily took part in a panel at Soho House. Afterwards, a few of us spontaneously headed for dinner, where we had a chance to further pick their brains.

On getting their subjects to open up…

Most of the people we interview are very willing to share their stories. We ask nudging questions, “When was the last time you cried?” and “When were you last vulnerable?” to help them open up and discuss the more difficult things. But sometimes they say “I’m not gonna go there,” or ask us to edit something out after they’ve done the interview, and we respect that.

On the connection between personality and style…

The less the shame, the better the style. People who aren’t concerned with fitting in are able to be more authentic in their style and in themselves. We say that everyone is “unrepeatable,” and this is a good thing. Nobody should have body insecurities, because there is no such thing as the right body. If we could, we would erase all body insecurity.

On people’s life stories…

Everyone has an interesting story, everyone. Even people who might seem boring, who dress in a less exuberant way. Everyone has had to deal with difficult things, all you need to do is look for the good in them and listen. We’re very good at seeing the best in people, if nothing else!

On social media…

Ultimately, it’s a force for good. Social media definitely has its challenges, and I don’t know how we can protect our children from its perils, but it also allows people sharing a positive message to have a platform. The internet and social media allow people to explore their identities, to find people they connect with, and who understand their struggles. [Elisa] I definitely use my smartphone in a different way to my kids, though. It’s not so much a part of me, I can put it down and leave it.

On being influenced by your surroundings…

We are all constantly influenced by what’s going on around us. We start to believe what we’re told: that something should look a certain way, that we should dress in a certain way. [Elisa] I got sucked into that. I worked as a stylist, and I believed that there was a way that women should look. I encouraged Lily to lose a little weight, not a lot, but I did. Now I understand differently. Once you become aware of the power that your surroundings have over you, you can begin to understand how they altered your thinking, and you see how they change the way that the people around you think.

On family…

[Elisa] I think I was really motivated in my parenting, and with StyleLikeU, because I was always the black sheep in the family. I had a very difficult relationship with my mother. Every one of these people you see in the videos has been an outlier, a black sheep. [Lily] I had to sit my mother down and explain to her that there was a time when she didn’t respond to me and my body image issues in the correct way in that moment. She was still very influenced by the industry she worked in and the ideals presented within that.

On youth…

Young people today have the power to change things. The world has changed so much in the last few decades, in many ways for the worse. The way that the media and governments have worked intends on making young people less aware of the issues at hand, to stop them from pushing against the present state of things. They can’t see what in the world they can be angry about, even though they sense that something is wrong; so they turn it in on themselves. But they’re starting to become more aware, and they really do have the power to change things.

And finally, on Berlin…

We’ve never been to Berlin before! The city feels exciting. There’s still innovation happening here, there’s still uniqueness, things that have disappeared from a lot of other cities.

 

True Style is What’s Underneath by StyleLikeU alias Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum is available for purchase.

 

 

Image from Instagram.