Fashion industry veteran Meredith Melling spent the last year juggling a lot: She’s helped homeschool four children, ages two to 15, and spent months with her husband on the campaign trail as he ran for New York City comptroller. On top of it all, she also led a business through the 2020–2021 retail minefield: Melling is one-third of La Ligne, a clothing brand dedicated to stripes and linear patterns, which she launched in 2015 with her friends and business partners Valerie Macaulay and Molly Howard.
As a former Vogue editor, Melling was weary of falling victim to the latest fashion trends. But she recognized that stripes—from Breton tops to pinstripe blazers—were fixtures in the fashion set's day-to-day wardrobes. Creating La Ligne was the trio's solution to effortless, trend-transcending fashion. “We want women to wear their clothes and not the other way around,” says Melling, also La Ligne's chief brand officer.
Thanks to her days running the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund, which helps emerging designers launch brands, Melling was acutely aware of the hurdles that small businesses face when working with wholesalers. As a result, she and her partners made the conscious decision to launch their brand as a direct-to-consumer line, which allows them more control over pricing and design decisions. Their products, typically $500 or less, are also carried at Net-a-Porter.
For an online brand with comfort top-of-mind, La Ligne was well-positioned for the pandemic. A graphic striped knit, like La Ligne’s Marin sweater, became the choice top for Zoom calls and waist-up social obligations. Still, Melling sees the brand expanding their in-person presence, jumping off of the success of their flagship Madison Avenue store, which opened in the spring of 2019. Sustainability is also a growth area: Their newly launched Re-Ligne program allows customers to buy and sell pre-loved designs, right on the La Ligne website.
We sat down with Melling (who was, admittedly, hiding from her brigade of children and three dogs in her bedroom) to talk about the current state of her closet, her A.M. routine, and her most sentimental pieces.
Her Morning Routine:
My morning routine is…crazy. I don't need an alarm clock. I'm woken up by the baby. I’m usually in my La Ligne pajamas and I’ll stay in them for awhile. My husband takes the kids to school, so that’s my opportunity to take a shower and get dressed. I still haven’t been able to figure out a good workout from home program, and I tend to be a little bit of a cheater when I'm working out on my own. I do three sit-ups and then stop. I thrive in an environment where I have a class instructor or see other people working out really hard. Working out is something I hope to reclaim this year.
Next up is skincare. I'm very into skincare right now. I don't really like wearing makeup, which is made possible by paying more attention to my skin. When I was younger, I was pretty dismissive of skincare routines, but now it’s a big part of my day.
I don’t live very far from where I work, so I walk there. I take the opportunity to listen to audio books or look around the city and take in inspiration. There are stripes and lines everywhere. Nothing is off limits.
Her Personal Style:
I grew up in the Boston area and I'm kind of a New England bohemian. I love brands that are really straightforward and don't change much, like L.L. Bean and New Balance. I also love a vintage '70s style dress à la Stevie Nicks, but I’ve found that those dresses are a little inconvenient when I'm working from home.
[Before the pandemic], I was not a sweatpants person. I loved my jeans. They were so comfortable, until they were...not. Now I have a hefty sweatpants wardrobe. My goal is to wean myself off of them. I’m a little too co-dependent, but it’s been so easy. You can wear a La Ligne jumper on top and sweatpants on the bottom.
Her Favorite Accessories:
Stan Smith's are my everyday sneaker and I also love strappy Emme Parsons sandals for day and night. I have them in every color and wear them with absolutely everything, including this Emme Parson's anklet. I've also been turning to Brother Vellies mules. I style them with everything from jeans to mid-calf dresses. I have a straw bag habit—especially this time of year. I use John Derian french market baskets as my every day purse.
Her Empowering Wardrobe Pieces:
I gravitate toward sentimental jewelry. I don’t travel without this charm necklace that has all of my kid’s and husband’s birthstones in it. I pick up random charms from flea markets. My mother-in-law gave me a really beautiful Cartier Panthère ring. I put it on when I want to be a badass; it makes me feel strong and powerful. I also always have an evil eye something on. I have an evil eye bracelet on right now. I just like to keep the good vibes.
Another sentimental piece: I have a sweater from my late father—it’s a gray v-neck style sweater that I travel with. It's very much a dad sweater.
Her Favorite La Ligne Piece:
Our Marin sweater in the original cream and navy color combination. I wear it to work. I wear it on the weekends. It feels industrial. My kids just cannot hurt it.