Friday, May 7, 2010

Style Basics - Top Tips!

I love those lists where some style guru like Nina Garcia or Tim Gunn suggests items for a capsule wardrobe. (I do like Nina's 'Little Black Book of Style'.) Now, I am certainly no guru & do not profess to be one, but people have always asked me for fashion advice, so I must be not too bad at dressing myself in the morning! So, after 25 or so years of poring over fashion mags, working in retail including Harrods with an array of fashionistas & celeb clients and soaking up tips from some very styley friends, I reckon I have a good idea of what a good capsule wardrobe should include. Here are my tips for a basic Capsule Wardrobe.

Every woman should have at least one pair of jeans that make them feel a million dollars. Jeans are one of the sexiest items of clothing you can wear - there's not hiding your legs, hips or butt! Jeans shopping needs a lot of energy - my advice is to try on everything. It's extremely hard to find jeans with the right cut and shape for your body - one pair of jeans can make me look way too pear-shaped with huge hips - another can make me drop 20 pounds.

Until recently I thought as a curvy girl, my only option was boot-cut. But these days curvy girls can go a straight, tailored leg and I have a few pairs now that are straight cut and actually make me look slim - amazing! I also love pockets on the butt. I know some people say it makes your butt look big, but I reckon my Hudson Signature Bootcut jeans are some of the most flattering jeans I own.

Things to watch out for when buying jeans:
  • ALWAYS try them on and look front AND back in a full-length mirror
  • Remember they shrink at least 5%, so don't freak out if they are too tight
  • Sit down in them in store, to assess bum-cleavageness.
  • Pleats in waist make you look fat
  • Make sure they are long - they should be almost grazing the floor, and if you wear heels, get a length that falls about 1cm above the bottom of your heel, for maximum height-enhancing
  • Wide leg jeans usually to make your legs look larger than they are
  • Paler denims and denim with white patches in the middle of the thigh can also make you look larger than you are
  • Dark denim is more flattering

A good coat or jacket is key. Whether you are into belted trenches or heavy wool styles, get a good basic coat. I love my plain, black leather jacket. Every season there is an array of good coats & jackets so find something classic and simple that will last, and not date - don't go for the latest fad that is too fiddly or detailed.

Also, it's worthwhile to spend extra money on a good quality coat - you want something that will last. Cheaper style will pill, wear, fray and start to look shabby fairly fast. A coat needs to stand the test of time and give you your money's worth. Go for Country Rd, Storm or even Max over Glassons, Dotti or Supre. I love this Storm Kasha Coat

A great black man-style jacket is fantastic to wear with suits or jeans. My favourite is a tuxedo jacket style with satin lapels. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent designed the first ever mens' style jacket for women -the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women, which has become a fashion icon and lead the way for suits cut to fit a woman’s figure.

This is Helmut Newton's famous photo of 'Le Smoking'.

Here's Kate Moss rocking her tuxudeo with several casual looks.

Another good staple in your wardrobe is a classic, well-fitting white cotton shirt. I have broad shoulders & a small waist so find it so hard to find a good, tailored shirt that isn't boxy.
If you need a nip or tuck, it is well worth getting shirts taken in by a tailor! I know that for my shape with broad shoulders I suit cinched at the waist, a classic collar (as opposed to 'Mandarin' style) and need neck unbuttoned. And when going short sleeved, capped sleeves suit me best.

The great thing about a good well fitted white shirt is that you can dress it up or down - with a suit for work or unbuttoned with jeans & a waistcoat for drinks. Sharon Stone wore a GAP white shirt to the Oscars, tied at the bottom with a designer skirt.
Max and Cue do good shirts. I also like Ben Sherman for shirts. I love this shot from Marie Claire Italia.

A classic white and black T is a constant in my wardrobe and I have everything form cheap Glassons to Max, but am yet to splash out on a good quality one. V necks with capped sleeves are my fave - if it's round, it must be low.

I have my eye on Alexander Wang's fabulous butter-soft Tees, now available at Workshop in white, black or grey. Here's Kristin Cavallari in Just Jared, rocking a grey Wang tee. I do love her style.

A good party dress that you can whip out at the mere mention of the word 'Girls' and 'Night' or 'Cocktail' and 'Bar' is a must. The main pre-requisite is it must make you look & feel a million dollars! If you have the financial means, you can splash out on a dress each season to suit the look - but I tend to have 2 or 3 classic stand-bys..


Rather than slavishly follow trends to the letter
, go for a dress that suits your shape and hides your flaws.
  • Make sure you feel fantastic AND comfortable before you leave the house
  • Find out what 'your' colour is - what colours suit you & make you 'pop'?
  • Invest in a 'dressy' shawl or coat to wear with your dress - don't frump up your look by wearing a cardigan or a jacket you'd normally wear to work.
  • If you have good legs - show the legs (but not too short for anyone over 25). If you have good boobs - show the boobs. Not hanging out nipple-grazing stuff, but accentuating them. A well cut, slinky fitted dress can be more sexy than a tiny scrap of material bearing all.
  • The general rule is go either low cut or short, never both, as this look has the propensity to look cheap, or tacky.
  • Bare legs are better than tights. Especially nude tights - not a great look.

Party dress by Karen Walker

See above - a staple! Great for party dresses and a good stand-by for those nights out that just pop up. Just throw on the LBD, heels, lipstick and go! TK Store in Auckland is my first stop in pursuit of dresses, as the styels and cut are impecable - always flattering and sexy. This is the Johnny dress.

To go with your party dress, very girl needs a fantastic pair of heels that makes them feel like they are strutting the catwalk! Also rock them out with jeans and a Tee, Sydney style. Vertiginous heels were a staple when I lived in Sydney, worn with almost every outfit.

Gwyneth Paltrow, J.Lo and Victoria Beckham are my favourite shoes muses, they are always rocking utterly fabulous heels. Also, check out this fantastic Blog for inspiration...

A great pair of leather, knee high boots are a must for Winter and look great with jeans, leggings or dresses. Overland is my first port of call for great boots (- they have great Boot Sales! Plus discounted outlet stores).
I also love Mi Piaci, which is where thee boots are from:

A good leather, every-day handbag is a must. Avoid knock-off designer bags - they look cheap. I always get mine from The Sak, in black and a reasonably classic style that won't date for a few years. I love The Sak beacuase they are well made and also usually have something a little different about them.
In NZ, Briarwood make beautiful leather bags.

Here's Blake Lively below with her Sak, a very large cross-body style.

And remember, as Gossip Girl stylist Eric Daman says - style is 80% clothes - 20% confidence! Check out his style tips here. (Excited to see his echoe mine!)

To finish, as you know I LOVE Kate Moss, so have included her style tips, from Life Style weekly:

Fail-safe party item

A little black dress. The hot look of over-the-knee boots and a miniskirt is fine with bare legs if you’re in your teens, 20s or 30s. Anyone older should add opaque black tights.

Don’t be afraid to alter vintage outfits

When I was 17, I found a panther-motif black dress at a New York flea market. Recently, I chopped off the bottom and used it as inspiration for the mini dress version in my Topshop line.

A new hairstyle can transform your look

Be brave! Try a new hairstyle. It can inspire a new way of looking at your existing wardrobe.

Make the most of your figure

If you have great legs, show them off with a short dress and heels or a fab pair of jeans. Wear what suits you rather than following trends. Create your own style!

Never look like you tried too hard!

Mismatching adds a personal touch

Don’t do the catwalk look head to toe

Mix old with new and designers with high street. I wore a Chanel maxidress to my friend’s wedding with a 1930s blue velvet cape and huge Turkish hoop earrings, which gave the dress a totally different feel.

Handbag essentials for hitting the town

Keys, cash, black eyeliner

Best jewellery for a night out

Antique diamonds

For evening, try unexpected outerwear-dress combos

Don’t be afraid to wear a battered leather jacket with a full-length gown or an extravagant, embroidered jacket with jeans and a T-shirt.

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