As a fashion stylist, I am paid to make movie stars look fabulous.
Ironically, I don’t always feel fabulous. I’m an over-caffeinated mom on the run. I am a chauffeur, PTA volunteer, chef and homework helper to two busy kids.
Balancing the supermom persona with fashion stylist to some of the world’s most successful and high-profile personalities like Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts and Heidi Klum, is quite a challenge.
It’s important for me to make a good first impression. When we first meet, I notice the star checking me out from head to toe, probably asking themselves if I could be trusted to dress them for public scrutiny.
Believe me, some days I just want to show up for the grueling day in sweats. But I can’t. My clients’ trust in me is proportional to the way I present myself.
Whether you run a household or a Fortune 500 company, it’s the same — there is scientific evidence that looking your best makes you more persuasive, confident and successful.
Known as the “halo effect,” the term was first used by psychologist Edward Thorndike in a 1920s study. It is human nature to judge. The better a person presents themselves, the better we judge them to be. We see attractive people as nicer, trustworthy or successful in all areas of their lives.
Here’s a little secret though — looking fashionable doesn’t require a big change or a lot of work. All you need is to make some time for yourself to raise your style game.
The key to looking fashionable is organization and an easy, signature style of your choice. Over the years I have developed a system that I use not only for myself, but for the stars I dress as well.
Here’s how to look fashionable fast –
#1 First Things First: Unclutter Your Closet
It may seem strange that this is the first thing to tackle, but trust me, the role of an uncluttered closet in your style game cannot be overemphasized.
Don’t get me wrong, what you have in your closet is very important, and we’ll get to it in a minute. But first we need to tackle the elephant in the room — how (and how many) things are organized in your closet.
You can easily save 15-20 minutes per day getting ready simply by decluttering your closet and knowing where everything in your closet is.
Regardless of closet size, we all have too much crammed in there. Take a day to empty out your closet. Get rid of anything you no longer wear or should no longer wear. Take each remaining piece you are considering keeping and run it through these 5 questions. If the item does not pass the 5-question test, donate or discard:
- Is it seasonally appropriate? Display only seasonally appropriate garments and store non seasonals until you need them. I suggest keeping a winter/summer box for clothing you don’t need yet. Pull out the summer gear for summer and store the winter gear, or vice versa. Rummaging through sandals in your closet in February while looking for boots and cashmere is a time waster.
- If the item is of good quality and has not been worn, does it need to be cleaned, altered or repaired? Make a pile to take to an alteration shop or dry cleaner. Today is the day to do something about these pieces or donate them to someone who will.
- Have I worn it in the last year? Leave the emotions behind. If you’re not using it, give it to someone who would be happy to use it. Donate items you no longer wear to a women’s shelter or organization of your choice.
- Has the item seen better days? Dirty, broken, torn or scuffed clothing and shoes make a terrible first impression. It is just as easy to put on a quality piece of clothing as it is to put on a tired piece. Don’t give yourself the option of the latter!
- Does this work with other items? If each item can’t mix and match with at least 3 other pieces in your approved pile, give it away. If you have two piece dresses, can both pieces work with something else and not just together?
When putting everything back, group items together. Arrange all shoes in one spot, all tops in their own section, etc. Grouping by color looks organized. Keep accessories sorted in boxes or trays.
You don’t need endless style options. After all, you can only wear one outfit at a time. Focus on a repetition of what looks great on you. By getting rid of your shabby, lazy go-to looks, you eliminate the possibility of looking sloppy and unkempt.
Get your closet working for you; 4-6 looks that highlight your beauty is better than a closet full of clothing that does nothing but take up time and space.
If you are intrigued by this idea, check out Courtney Carver’s website, project333.com. Courtney challenges you to live for 3 months with just 33 items in your closet. She shares good insights and helpful tips on living with a “tiny wardrobe”.
#2 Don’t Ever Let Clothing Wear You
One of the most important tasks I have when dressing a star is to highlight their natural beauty. The key to this is simplicity. Clothes that don’t have too many design features make the cut. With all the technology available, there are plenty of options to being comfortable and looking great. Choose fabrics like jersey knit, double gauze, stretch denim or cotton.
The clothing must fit perfectly, be comfortable and easy.
A dress that is too tight or needs constant tugging is awkward. Scratchy fabric is uncomfortable and distracting not only to a movie star but to you as well. And discomfort always shows, and never in flattering ways.
#3 Contrary to Popular Advice, Avoid Trendy Clothing
A movie star’s worst nightmare is being on the worst dressed list. The majority of stars who end up on that list were victim to a trendy or ill-fitting outfit.
Unless you are a naturally avant-garde personality or run an art gallery, leave trendy clothing to the young and artsy. Be safe and save the trends for your accessories.
#4 Have a Uniform
Designers Carolina Herrera, Giorgio Armani and Michael Kors are famous personalities that wear a daily “uniform”. Steve Jobs also had his own daily uniform.
Simplify your morning routine, avoid fashion mistakes and save time getting dressed by finding yours.
The uniform should work for a variety of tasks: grocery shopping, dropping the kids off, meeting friends for coffee or going to work. Create a uniform persona and make it yours. Here are some suggestions:
- Charlotte from Sex and the City – your favorite little black dress and variations of it. Layer with a variety of denim jackets, blazers, cardigans, scarves and girly accessories.
- Urban momma – My uniform of choice, incorporating black, grey and white. Skinnier cut pants and t-shirts with layering like modern high-tech raincoats or leather. I throw on some trendy jewelry or my favorite handbag or shoes when I need to make a good first impression. The stretchy skinny jeans I like to wear are as comfortable as sweatpants.
- Preppy mom – Raid J. Crew or the Tory Burch store and call it a day.
#5 Find Your Signature “Cherry” on the Sundae
Now that you are dressing simpler, you need something to highlight your unique personality and have some fun. There are days when I need a little pick me up that makes me smile when I look in the mirror. I call it the cherry or the sprinkles on the ice cream sundae. Some suggestions for your signature topping:
- Great haircut
- Bold accessories
- Killer manicure
- Red lipstick
- Signature pearls
- Power handbag
- Unique fragrance
- The perfect pair of shoes
A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories.
-Oscar de la Renta
#6 Look Perfectly Done at All Times, Fast
As a stylist, an average day is never without several fashion emergencies. A torn dress, coffee spills on a red-carpet gown and fabric that looks like the artist slept in it after a short car ride are common. Here are 5 things from my kit you should keep in your own style kit:
- Sewing kit: A small travel kit is all you need to repair a hem or reattach a button. Add Topstick to your sewing kit. Topstick is double-sided wig tape that works great when your silky blouse’s neckline is a little too revealing, or you don’t have time to sew up a pant hem.
- Steamer and Wrinkle Free spray: I hate to iron. I am not good at it, nor do I have the time. I have owned the same Jiffy steamer for 20 years. Approximately $150, it is my iron replacement. You can steam a crumpled blouse to perfection in under 30 seconds. I also keep a can of Wrinkle Free spray in my kit. This small bottle is great for on-the-spot touch ups. Spray, smooth and allow a minute to dry.
- Baby wipes: As a stylist, a baby wipe is a versatile tool. It is perfect for instantly cleaning foundation, lipstick and coffee spills off clothing. Baby wipes are a quick touch up tool when your mascara is running. Use the plain wipes; the aloe or moisturizing versions can yellow or stain white fabric.
- The right underwear: A bra that lifts and supports is worth the investment. So is a good pair of Spanx, to smooth all the bumps and seams. Choose a nude color for versatility. Your undergarments are the structure to your look.
- Shoe polish kit: Use the shoe polish for handbag and shoe touch ups. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pads work wonders on removing scuff marks.
Years ago, I worked with elegant Isabella Rossellini on a commercial. I will never forget her story about shoes. She shared that Italians judge you instantly on 2 things: your family name and your shoes. You can’t control the name you were born under, but you can make a good first impression through the state and quality of your shoes.
Movie stars are not the only people under daily scrutiny. We are all in the public eye, making judgement and assumptions of strangers we come across.
Don’t neglect yourself, make small changes to your quality of life by being a more fashionable you. You will be an example to your kids on the importance of self-care and making good impressions. It will serve them throughout their life.
Take the supermom you already are to the next level with a better style game!
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
Think about who you want to be. Find a style icon that inspires you; she can be a character or actual woman. Think about her when clearing your closet or getting dressed. Make a plan to easily look great all the time, even when going to the supermarket.
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
Transform your plan into action! Involve your kids in the project; it is a great learning experience for them. Sit together and make a fashion inspiration photo collage for your new look. Cut out your favorite outfits together and have the kids glue them to a board. Write your style icon’s name on top of your collage and hang it in your closet where you see it every day.
Involve the kids in the declutter by sorting the trash/donate/sell piles of clothes. When you think you are done and have a smaller closet selection, have your older kids look through it and help you edit some more. Keep the momentum going and tackle your kids’ closets next.