Beyond allowing us to pick her brain during quite a busy week, DJ Whitney Day also let us accompany her as she got ready! What did we find out? That there’s more than meets the ear, of course, as her style is not directly linked to her music. Though her sets tend to blend old and new sounds, soul, disco, and active rhythms to get a crowd going, her style is casual cool, a t-shirt and jeans with a bit of flair. With a haircut as her signature style element, Danna keeps the crowd’s focus on the music and what’s going on with her from the neck up, as she notes that is pretty much all they get to see of her (unless she decides to join them on the floor, which she has been known to surprise a few audiences and actually do).
With abs of steel, a smile that would make pageant queens jealous, and comfort around the camera, DJ Whitney Day was an easy subject, leaving us with so many photo options that it was a bit hard to narrow down the picks for this piece! But if you want to see for yourself, scroll down and come with us as we Get Ready With Whitney Day:
How would you characterize your style?
I think that being from New York, that sort of is a defining factor in and of itself. I’m a very “city” person, which to me means jeans, sneakers, sweatshirts. I’m very casual. While going to school in Massachusetts, I definitely stood out. Fashion-wise, I didn’t really look like everybody else.
What was the style like there?
Very Abercrombie, collared shirts, stuff like that. Until then, I had never seen anyone wear running sneakers with jeans out in public. I kept thinking, “Where are everyone’s Converse sneakers?” and they were like, “Huh, what’s that?” Street sneakers just didn’t really have a place there, and I would never wear like, Nike sneakers out to a bar (unless they were really cool high tops or something).
But in general, I am pretty casual. You most likely are not going to see me strutting down the street wearing high heels and halter top. Maybe for a wedding I’d make an exception [laughs] That is not to say that I am completely not feminine, but I think there are other ways to express femininity besides wearing high heels and stuff that’s really tight and uncomfortable.
What about your color schemes? Do you tend to wear a lot of dark colors like a “typical New Yorker”? Does that influence bleed into your color choices as well?
Yeah. I typically stick more toward darker colors like black, dark greens, etc, and more natural colors. Once in a while, a style or fad will come along in a neon color, and I’ll get that one neon yellow shirt or something. But I think, like most New Yorkers, you can’t go wrong with black.
But when it comes to bright colors, I see your hair is a pretty bold blonde. Is it natural or dyed? Was this to contrast all the dark colors?
I was born with blonde hair and it darkened over time. I tried wearing it brown, but I’ve just always preferred blonde. It just looks better on me. Also, my hair being somewhat of a signature of my look, something that makes me stand out as I don’t wear bright colors or sparkly outfits for my gigs, it’s something that people recognize me by. So keeping my hair this color and style, and standing out because of it, is really part of my fashion sense if you will.
Beyond your hair, are there any other signature components of your style?
I think that because my [clothing] style is so casual, my makeup also tends to go above and beyond–whether it’s through color or something more exaggerated and extreme just to stand out – especially when you’re behind the DJ booth. It doesn’t really pay to wear amazing pants because no one will see them. Hats are kind of out, for obvious reasons, as are big earrings. [laughs] Considering that what people see of you from the booth is from the neck up, keeping that bright and doing something there to stand out is important style-wise.
Do you have any makeup favorites that you’ve been employing as of late?
I’ve been into purple lately, and I go kind of heavy on the mascara and eyeliner. I think dark eyes (i.e. the smoky eye) or something a little more bright, with a splash of color, looks cool.
What about lips?
Because I was a trombone player for many years, I was used to never wearing lipstick because in the end, I would have looked like a clown. [laughs] I usually don’t wear lipstick. I only wear a little gloss, which usually wears off very quickly after my first drink, but then I don’t even bother to re-apply.
When we spoke earlier, you mentioned that you were really into the military meets preppy look. Could you explain how those two styles came together for you?
I don’t actually wear them together . . . at least, not that I can recall. [laughs] While I sometimes wear really tight jeans, I tend to wear jeans that are a little low-slung and baggier in the hip area. I really like cargo pants because you can throw them on with a t-shirt or something and it still has a bit of an edge. I’m also obsessed with this new military-style green jacket I bought. I think it’s from Free People. You just can’t go wrong with it: the hood fits into the collar, which is really convenient, and it has a ton of huge pockets, so I can put everything I need in there.
In terms of the more preppy side, I’ve been really into the straight, button-up, collared shirts, plaid shirts, and boat shoes. It’s a bit odd for me because I’ve never been a preppy person, but I think because of my hair, I never look totally preppy. [laughs] I can pull off the contrast.
Do you cut your own hair or do you go to stylist?
[laughs] Sometimes, my girlfriend cuts it for me if I am being really lazy! It’s kinda funny though, I never go to the same place. You can’t really go wrong when you cut hair like this, and even if someone messes it up (for example, I’ve gone to those Bumble and Bumble school training sessions for a cut before), in two weeks, it’s fine. I am not too sensitive about it.
Once I walked into some random place in Chinatown, and the guy cut my hair really short (which was totally fine; it’s what I asked for), but by the end, I looked like every.single.Asian male hairstylist in the place! [laughs] After he was done with me, we all looked at each other like “Yeaaah!” It had spikes on top! It was really funny. That one was maybe an extreme case, but like I said, in two weeks, it’s back to the way it used to be.
When you DJ, do you dress differently from when you just go out for fun?
No, not really. I know of some DJs who dress up to fit a certain persona, but I don’t really go for that so much. I have to be comfortable when I’m DJing because I can be up there for up to 8 hours, and it’s all on my feet. You have to consider that. You are working, and sweating (hopefully, if you’re really getting into it).
I might do something a little bit different, like put on a different piece of jewelry, but usually, I just show up to the gigs like myself. I let the music speak for itself.
Sometimes, I want to jump out onto the dancefloor, do my thing, and then jump back into the booth! I think there is this weird separation between the DJ and the audience, but I never feel that way. I feel very connected with the audience. These people are my friends, or could be my friends, and we’re just kinda hanging out. So I don’t really go for that distinction of “I’M the DJ” and I’m going to wear this insane outfit. I just keep it casual.
How do you lug around all your stuff?
I have a bag that I inherited from a friend of mine when I was working for a DJ. He has had a very big influence on me–I consider him my DJ mentor, although we’re very good friends as well. He passes down a lot to me: records, his backpack, an old mixer, this and that. So he gave me this bag, and it has a million pockets. It was very convenient because it fits a Serato box, a couple of records (which I always bring for backup just in case Serato craps out (which doesn’t happen often, but you never know. You’ve gotta play it safe)), my Serato cds, some backup needles, and tons of cables (just in case). [laughs] It’s all pretty heavy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I start having back problems, but it’s a good way to keep everything in one place, throw it on my back, and hit the train.
Let’s talk a little bit about your process of getting ready. What’s the order? Is there any sequence you follow?
I do try, just from experience, to put my shirt on before I do my makeup. I have had some things happen before when I didn’t. I had this white shirt with a cool design that I wanted to wear. I got ready, did my makeup, put on the shirt, then ended up with a face imprint on one side. [laughs] So I’ll do that, but for everything else, I’m usually running around my house like a madwoman, going back and forth between the bathroom and the closet, checking in the mirror, throwing things all around, and just scrambling.
I usually have tv on in the background pretty much all the time, even when I am just playing music or practice. I am not really sure why. [laughs] It’s probably just out of habit. Before a gig, though, I typically don’t play music. I just want to give my ears a rest if I am going to be playing 4, 6, 8 hours. I am just being more and more cautious about my ears. They are really important, and a lot of DJs forget about that. I’ve been reading a lot about ear health lately, and as dorky as it sounds, it’s very important. I realized that if I wanted to be DJing for a long time and working in audio, then I’d better start taking care of that.
I need a little bit of down time and quiet beforehand. I used to listen to my iPod a lot on the train before I’d go, but I try not to do that. I like to blank out my mind before hand, to keep everything empty before I step into a space, so I can properly evaluate a space and the crowd. I want to take all that in before I play.
– Retail DJ