Working with clients to define their particular style, I often reference how early experiences inform our later preferences. The reasons we’re drawn to certain looks (whether we realize it or not) typically have roots in when and where we were raised, the culture of that time, and our memories. With a little bit of prodding, you can usually uncover certain likes and dislikes strictly based on the above criteria.
I remember playing for hours in my Grandmother’s jewelry box. Hardly the estate collections I now covet, she loved crystal costume pieces and, therefore, so did I. Like many little girls, I would dress up in her jewels and feel more fabulous than was natural at 8 years old.
Fast forward 25 years, and the pieces reminiscent of her collection are back in vogue in some of fashion’s hottest venues. While conducting my daily web searches, I stumbled across these earrings and was instantly reminded of my central thesis: your style is nostaglic; it’s what you already know… The hard part is knowing how to best showcase it, but you always have help for that.
There’s a long-standing style musing: women dress for other women. The wisdom behind the sentiment maintains that since men aren’t as style savvy or detail oriented, women look for acceptance and praise from female friends. Despite this, I’ve noticed an interesting paradigm shift during my time working the boutiques with clients: many women are swapping out their traditional shopping partner (friends) for their man.
I love seeing men in clothing stores. They look as graciously out of place as (I suspect) I do shopping for a grill in Home Depot. I appreciate the effort to help and their patience about the whole endeavor. And while it seems that their ambivalence on your dressing room selections suggests a need for some style education for them, it is actually we who need the learning. Mainly that dressing for style and dressing for a man are two very different and, sometimes, mutually exclusive goals.
You don’t have to be an evolutionary psychologist to know that men are incredibly visual. When the body or its outline is visible or accentuated, they will respond more passionately. I always know which pieces my clients’ men will like best, and they are always those that highlight shape and curves. My beautiful client Kara’s (pictured) Diane Von Furstenberg dress is exactly that piece; it suggests her hourglass figure without flaunting, shows yet covers. At my request, she accessorizes with black opaque tights and matching platform heels to downplay the sexiness, but can just as easily rock bare legs and a serious heel. I’ll let you guess which option her husband might prefer…
Men don’t get edgy footwear or plays on proportion. Billowey and blousey (two silhouettes that are always fashion forward) are lost on them. The head to toe details that I tirelessly promote (both here and with clients) just don’t translate where most men are concerned. So when you come out of the dressing room to a dispassionate reception (something I see all the time), remember to ask yourself who you’re dressing for.
In my opinion, the overlap between what stylish women like to wear and what most men want to see is a small one. However, the following I can recommend to work on both fronts.
Susana Monaco Strapless Dress– This best-seller from Chelsea does require a certain body type, but it celebrates a woman’s curves and is a proven fan favorite among the men.
Susana Monaco Halter Top– If you’re interested in showing (the girls) and covering (the tummy), this top is ideal.
Diane Von Furstenberg Wrap Dress– This iconic design is the creation of a woman, yet satiates the style sensibilities of men because of its body celebrating, curve hugging silhouette.
For a number of reasons, I tend to keep my professional involvement with weddings to a minimum. Mainly, I am not a great believer in and follower of the rules and traditions of fashion, of which weddings are steeped. However, through my (non-professional) consulting with two bride-to-be friends, I’ve noticed a subtle and exciting shift in certain ‘I Do’ details:
Color– The easiest way to infuse a modern spirit into your wedding style is through a bold shoe. My friend and client Kyle Decker embodies this perfectly with a hot pink peep toe heel (pictured) to compliment her traditional yet ideally understated dress. As far as color selection goes, it’s a personal one. Like Kyle, I endorse hot pink and also love red, yellow and (in an homage to and twist on the tradition) blue.
Flats– Women today are nothing if not practical, and many don’t want to spend their most important night hobbled by uncomfortable shoes. Additionally, as many Colorado weddings are outdoors, high heels are often impractical on grassy terrain. Ballet flats are the answer. Available in metallic gold or silver and every conceivable color, I prefer the contemporary look of patent leather and, to that end, nothing is quite like Lanvin. With flats, you’ll be wearing them again so a little splurge is sensible.
Flips– For a beach[y] wedding, these are a non-negotiable, but rarely do women know how chic they look contrasted with the ethereal formality of the dress. A classic flip from J.Crew or Tory Burch is as casual as you’ll want to go, while high-end lines like Prada offer can offer everything (color, comfort and contemporary) all in one.
Ever notice that anytime you need a specific item for a specific event, you’re bound to come up either disappointed or empty handed. This shopping trend (where pieces are purchased on an as-needed basis) is known as mission oriented and, most unfortunately, it doesn’t work. To combat this retail black hole, I urge clients to always be in window shopping mode, and there are two times of year when this is most important: leading up to Christmas and leading up to wedding season, which for the former, is now.
Every woman should have a few semi and formal dresses hanging in her closet to cover special events. I purchased the black sequin Tibi dress (at left) for a wedding I have 4 months from now because I know that waiting for the invitation to arrive is waiting too long.
At any given time, I am on the lookout for specific items for my clients. At present, I am scouting an edgy yet everyday pair of booties for one and a gold flat sandal for another. If you don’t have the time or patience to stay current on all available merchandise and know you have wardrobe gaps heading into this busy season, this is what I’m here for.