Archive for April, 2005

Q&A: The Shoe-Belt Connection for Men

Q: I still haven’t quite figured out shoes and belts for men. What’s the connection between shoes and a belt (one time, or, to be honest, many times I’ve worn black shoes with a brown belt and had comments flung my way)?

Also, I’m the kind of guy who only has one pair of shoes at a time — which color has more power to look professional and match khakis, brown or black? And last up, what am I doing wrong in trying to buy a belt– I walked into Nordstroms to get a black belt recently and they averaged $90, which is way above my budget. What am I to do?

A: General rule of thumb: match the belt to the shoes. So if you’re wearing a black belt, wear black shoes. If you’re wearing a brown belt, wear brown shoes. And so forth. However, this isn’t a Law.

A better rule might say match the style of the belt to the shoe. That style is most visually expressed through color–hence the "match the belt to the shoes" mantra. I wouldn’t want to pair the black and the brown, but pairings that don’t exactly match, but are similar in style are definitely A-OK.

Note also that there are formal belts, and there are casual belts. Skinny belts are usually reserved for more formal occasions, and thicker belts are more appropriate for casualwear. For casual belts, leather isn’t the only option–there’s nylon, grosgrain (ribbon), and canvas, for starters.

If you want to look professional, I’d recommend moving away from khakis and going towards black or grey pants. In your industry, though, it might be more acceptable to wear khakis. In that case, I’d recommend a darker shade of brown. For the black or grey pants, black would be the preferred option between the two.

As for buying a belt, try Macy’s. I’ve found decent quality, stylish belts in the $30-$40 range there. Other options: Club Monaco, or the everpresent Banana Republic and Gap stores.

Add comment April 29th, 2005

Women’s Figure Flattery Guide: Full Figured

Elongate your silhouette and enhance specific focal points.

Look for…
  • When choosing an outfit, pick a focal point and play it up: neck and shoulders, back, cleavage, forearms, legs, etc.
  • Monochromatic and tonal outfits.
  • Items with drape and stretch.
  • Garments with soft texture, vertical patterns, and prints.
  • Jackets & Coats
  • Straight cuts.
  • Mid-hip lengths or longer.
  • Single breasted styles.
  • Tailored styles.
  • Subtle A-line styles.
  • High armholes and natural shoulders for a leaner look.
  • Biker jackets.
  • Boxy jackets.
  • Tops
  • Semifitted styles that can be tucked in.
  • Wrap styles.
  • Off-the-shoulder necklines.
  • Styles with bust darts.
  • Deep V-necks.
  • Pants & Jeans
  • Flat-front straight leg trousers with no pockets.
  • Waistbands 1” or smaller.
  • Jean styles that sit slightly below your natural waist.
  • Skirts & Dresses
  • Dresses with all-over patterns to keep the eyes moving.
  • Dark colors and flat textures.
  • Waistbands 1” or smaller.
  • Styles without waistbands.
  • A-line styles.
  • Flat front skirts.
  • Play up cleavage or legs as your focal point.
  • Suits
  • Vertical detailing.
  • Semifitted styles.
  • Simple styles.
  • Swimsuits
  • Diagonal lines.
  • Chevron patterns.
  • Verticals: necklines, piping, patterns, seams.
  • Lower necklines.
  • Side shirring.
  • Dark side panels.
  • High Lycra content.
Run from…
  • Clingy or tight fitting items.
  • Oversized clothing.
  • Ill-fitting clothing.
  • Stiff fabrics.
  • Bulky pockets.
  • Jackets & Coats
  • Double breasted styles.
  • Belted styles.
  • Bulky flap or patch pockets.
  • Tops
  • Hems that end at the widest part of your hips.
  • Overembellishment.
  • Anything too tight.
  • Pants & Jeans
  • Pants tapered at the ankle.
  • Baggy pants.
  • Pants with pleated waists.
  • Peg top pants with elastic waists.
  • Skirts & Dresses
  • Bulky, gathered styles.
  • Boxy shapes.
  • Horizontal detailing.
  • Bias cuts.
  • Wrap styles.
  • Front darts.
  • Pleats.
  • Front pockets.
  • Suits
  • Anything too tight.
  • Complicated cuts.
  • Horizontal detailing.
  • Swimsuits
  • Anything that creates a horizontal line.
  • Two piece suits that dig into your body.

Add comment April 28th, 2005

Women’s Figure Flattery Guide: Boyish

Soften your silhouette by adding the appearance of curves.

Look for…
  • Fitted styles.
  • Styles with embellishments at the bustline (e.g. ruching, pleating).
  • Jackets & Coats
  • Fitted styles.
  • Straight styles.
  • Jackets with nipped in waists.
  • Belted styles.
  • Styles that end at mid-hip.
  • Double breasted styles.
  • Jackets in heavier fabrics and textures.
  • Pocket detailing, especially breast pockets.
  • Peplum jackets.
  • Biker jackets.
  • Bomber jackets.
  • Straight, boxy jackets.
  • Tops
  • Fitted styles.
  • Horizontal detailing.
  • Tops with nipped in waists.
  • Halter Tops.
  • Tops with embellishments at the bustline: shirring or gathers.
  • Shrunken versions of men’s shirts.
  • Empire-waist styles.
  • Narrow V-necks.
  • Flared short sleeves.
  • Tabbed sleeves.
  • Breast pockets.
  • Wide collars and lapels.
  • Pants & Jeans
  • Flat-front, straight-leg trousers.
  • Slight flare at hem.
  • Pleats will help create curves.
  • Wide waistbands and a lower rise pant will visually add curves.
  • Low rise styles.
  • Low-rise, straight leg jean styles work best.
  • Jeans with a fitted derrière create instant curves.
  • Skirts & Dresses
  • Almost any style works.
  • For broad shoulders, avoid very full skirts.
  • Sarong skirts.
  • Bias cut skirts.
  • A-line skirts.
  • Pleating.
  • Slanted pockets for added hip shape.
  • Gathers.
  • Patch pockets.
  • Belts.
  • Thicker waistbands.
  • Shirtdresses.
  • Wrap dresses.
  • Horizontal detailing.
  • Contrast color at bustline.
  • Waist detailing.
Run from…
  • Garments that are cut straight up and down with no waist definition.
  • Jackets & Coats
  • Anything with built in curves.
  • Shoulder pads.
  • Horizontal lines at the shoulder.
  • Raglan, dolman, or kimono sleeves.
  • Tops
  • Horizontal lines at the shoulder.
  • Raglan, dolman, or kimono sleeves.
  • Stiff fabrics.
  • Voluminous, structured tops that you don’t fill out.
  • Pants & Jeans
  • Fitted capris and clamdiggers.
  • Skirts & Dresses
  • Voluminous styles.
  • Excess tailoring.
  • Stiff fabrics.

Add comment April 27th, 2005

Women’s Figure Flattery Guide: Curvy

Elongate your figure while featuring your waist.
Showcase your curves.

Look for…


  • Garments that drape nicely over your curves.
  • Jackets & Coats
  • Styles with simple lines.
  • Semi-fitted styles that just cover your derrière.
  • Belted styles.
  • Single breasted jackets.
  • Closure (button or otherwise) just below the bustline.
  • Vertical lines through seams and/or lapels.
  • Snug fit jean jackets.
  • Snug fit, high collared biker jacket.
  • Bomber jacket worn open.
  • Single breasted boxy styles.

  • Tops
    • Semifitted styles that end below the belt and can be tucked in.
    • Styles with bust darts.
    • Drapey fabrics.
    • Tops with fitted waists.
    • Shoulder-baring tops.
    • Collarbone-baring tops.
    • Tops that subtly reveal cleavage.
    • Wrap tops.
    • Deep V-necks.
    • Small collars.
    • Narrow lapels.
    • Pants & Jeans
    • Classic flat-front straight-leg pants that rest at your natural waistline.
    • Side or back zip pants (invisible zipper) reduce bulk and can be more flattering.
    • Subtle flare at ankle is flattering on taller women.
    • Wide pants can be tapered slightly at calf-height on heavy women.
    • Stretch jeans are perfect for showcasing curves.
    • For a look that’s less form-fitting, try straight-leg jeans one size up.
    • Skirts & Dresses
    • Slitted skirts and dresses that showcase your legs.
    • Bottoms that narrow at your knees.
    • A-line skirts.
    • Tapered skirts.
    • Flat front styles with side or back zipper.
    • For a thin waistline, show your waist with a belt or prominent waistline.
    • For a thicker waistline, look for dropped-waist styles.
    • Wrap dresses.
    • Semifitted styles.
    • Shift dresses.
    • A-line dresses.
    • Shirtdresses.
    • Medium-weight knits and drapey fabrics are flattering.
    • Shawl collars.
    • Keyhole necklines.
    • Strapless necklines.
    • Asymmetrical necklines.
    • Suits
    • Fluid fabrics.
    • Fitted jackets and skirts.
    • Swimsuits
    • Wrapped styles.
    • All-over patterns.
    • Side shirring.
    • Dark side insets.
    • Underwire bra-tops.
    • Halter necklines.
    • High-cut legholes.

    Run From…

    • Oversized clothes.
    • Overly tight clothing.
    • Clothes that are cut straight up and down, without regards to curves.
    • Horizontal lines at the fullest part of your hips.
    • Jackets & Coats
    • Jackets without waist definition (e.g. those that are loosely buttoned at the waistline).
    • Styles that end at the fullest part of your hips.
    • Rolled lapels.
    • Cropped styles.
    • High necklines.
    • Jean jacket with pocket detailing.
    • Tops
    • Styles that end at the fullest part of your hips.
    • Cropped styles.
    • Overembellishment.
    • Extremely thin fabrics.
    • Oversized tops.
    • Anything too tight.
    • Pants & Jeans
    • Cuffed pants.
    • Very tapered styles.
    • Skirts & Dresses
    • Boxy styles.
    • Stiff fabrics.
    • Extremely full skirts.
    • Pleats.
    • Bulky pockets.
    • Horizontal detailing.
    • High necklines.
    • Suits
    • Tight styles.
    • Swimsuits
    • Suits without enough support.
    • Improper fit.

    Add comment April 26th, 2005

    Women’s Figure Flattery Guide: Petite

    Elongate your silhouette by making your legs look longer.

    Look for…
    • Items in the petites department: they’re proportioned for a shorter woman.
    • Monochromatic ensembles.
    • Narrow silhouettes.
    • Drapey, fluid fabrics.
    • Vertical lines and detailing: seams, closures, embellishment, etc.
    • Princess and/or center seams.
    • Small prints.
    • Skirts are better than pants because they conceal the point where your legs begin, allowing you to create the illusion of longer legs by raising the waistline.

    • Jackets & Coats
    • Cropped styles.
    • Styles with simple lines.
    • One or two button closures.
    • Narrow lapels that end above the natural waistline.
    • Coats should be no longer than one inch above the knee.
    • Empire-waist styles.
    • Belts, if any, should be placed above the natural waistline.
    • High necklines create the illusion of height.
    • Tops
    • Simple, fitted styles.
    • High-waisted tops.
    • Empire line tops.
    • Cropped tops and sweaters.
    • Tops in fluid, drapey fabrics.
      • Pants & Jeans
      • Straight leg pants with front creases.
      • Longer cut styles work best; wear these with heels for a longer line.
      • Classic 5-pocket jean styles.
      • Natural waist styles to visually lengthen leg.
      • Skirts & Dresses
      • Above-the-knee and knee-length skirts and dresses.
      • Tapered straight skirts.
      • A-line skirts.
      • Button-front skirts.
      • Wraparound skirts.
      • Slim dress silhouettes.
      • High-waisted dresses.
      • Empire line dresses.
      • Wrap dresses.
      • Semifitted to fitted sheath dresses.
      • Off center slit to elongate legs.
      • Vertical detailing: buttons, seamlines, trimmings, etc.
      • Higher neckline for a taller look.
      • Accessories
      • Minimal accessories.
      • Medium height shoes.
      • Pointed toe shoes to elongate foot and leg.
      • Shoes with a low vamp (toe opening is long and narrow) for a longer line for your foot and leg.

      Run from…
      • Stiff, tailored clothing.
      • Baggy clothing.
      • Big horizontal lines.
      • Large prints.
      • Excess detailing.

      • Jackets & Coats
      • Double breasted styles.
      • Long coats.
      • Voluminous styles.
      • Styles with wide lapels.

        • Tops
        • Tops that hit at your natural waistline.
        • Baggy tops.
        • Highly embellished tops.
        • Tops made of stiff fabrics.
        • Pants & Jeans
        • Pleated pants.
        • Cropped pants.
        • Low rise pants.
        • Cuffed pants.
        • Wide-leg pants.
        • Flared pants.
        • Skirts & Dresses
        • Skirts that hit at mid-calf.
        • Long, ankle length skirts.
        • Hem detailing.
        • Overly girly styles.
        • Overembellishment.
        • Extremely full skirts (think Cinderella).
        • Accessories
        • Very High Heels.
        • Overembellished styles.
        • Styles that disproportionately large for your frame.

        Add comment April 25th, 2005

    Q&A: Matching Shoes to Dress

    Q: For a cocktail party in June, I plan to wear a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress. It’s knee-length and ruffled, and has a mauve background with pink, fuschia, and pewter-blue flowers, with brown stems [and] a royal blue waist tie. The shoes paired with it at the store where I bought it were blue patent leather sandals with about a two-inch stiletto heel, a little high for my taste. What other color shoes would you suggest wearing with it? Do I have to look for blue shoes?

    A: No, you don’t have to look for blue shoes. The general rule is that a shoe is usually in the same color family as the outfit it is accompanying, but not necessarily an exact match. Often times, when you make an exact match, the result comes out too "matchy matchy." Not to mention the difficulty in finding the exact match in the first place.

    There are a lot of colors represented in the dress, so you have a lot of leeway here. You might want to try some shade of pink–or even tan, to bring out the brown of the stems. Both colors would likely work with other items in your closet as well. Remember, however, that shoes in vivid colors attract attention–and consequently make your feet look bigger. For such shoes, I’d recommend sticking to barer styles that are easier to wear.

    As for type of shoe, for the dress that you described, I’d recommend a kitten heel. A low, delicate heel is a lot easier to wear than the stilettos you described. Plus, I think the kitten heel is more versatile, as it works with both cocktail clothes and work attire.

    Add comment April 22nd, 2005

    Q&A: Stylish Color Combinations for Men

    Q: You wrote a post about color combinations for women a little while back. What about color combinations for men?

    A: Here are three color combo suggestions to spice up your wardrobe, along with suggested pant colors to accompany them. Enjoy!

    Coral + Sky Blue Tee layered over a Button-Up Shirt at Armani Exchange

    Coral + Sky Blue at Armani Exchange
    Pair this color combination with jeans, white pants, khakis, or purplish grey pants.

    Green + Blue Shirt and Tie at Ralph Lauren
    Green + Blue at Polo Ralph Lauren
    Pair this color combination with jeans, white pants, black pants, or khakis.

    Orange + Bright Blue at American Eagle
    Orange + Bright Blue at American Eagle
    Pair this color combination with jeans, white pants, khakis, or purplish grey pants.

    2 comments April 21st, 2005

    Q&A: Mixing Metals

    I’ve been getting more questions via email—I’m just going to make this Q&A week! If you have a burning style question, send it my way:


    Q: Is it okay to mix metals (e.g. gold and silver) when choosing jewelry?


    A: Yes, it’s okay to mix metals. However, be careful to choose some unifying theme. I’d recommend choosing pieces that are similar in style, color, or even shine. You wouldn’t, for example, want to combine a shiny platinum and a dull gold. When in doubt, there are always pieces that are made of multiple metals—these generally do a good job with the combination.

    Note that the same guidelines apply for picking metallic-colored pieces of clothing.

    1 comment April 20th, 2005

    Q&A: So you want to break into the fashion industry, Part Deux

    How did I get started?
    I’ve always Loved fashion, and it’s been a dream of mine since childhood to work in the fashion industry. However, fashion wasn’t really encouraged in my family—I have traditional Asian parents that wanted me to become a doctor or a computer programmer. I was trucking along, doing the parentally approved thing, right up until my freshman year of college.

    I was studying Management Science and Engineering (optimizing Stuff—it was the closest thing to a business major that Stanford had), and I knew something was missing. Not that I didn’t enjoy the business classes, but I knew that I wanted to apply them to something more creative than say, a software company. Researched some fashion schools in the Bay Area, and found the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. As it turned out, they had an evening program for the Fashion Design major, specially designed for people with day jobs. I then spent the next two and a half years taking business classes during the day and fashion classes at night, graduating with an AA in Fashion Design, and a BS and MS in MS&E. I’m leaving out the ugly details of what that entailed, but suffice it to say, I didn’t get much sleep.

    While going to school, I was fashion consulting. Got experience in helping people choose outfits for anything from interviews to dates to weddings. After graduation, I got my start in fashion design by showing my first collection in San Francisco’s first-ever Fashion Week in August 2004. I also continued doing fashion styling work—a recent project included styling a Hair/Fashion Show for the Patrick Evan Salon. And here I am writing a fashion blog!

    Shameless Plug Alert: There’s more to come—I’ll be launching a line of clothes (men’s and women’s) later this year. More on that later.

    The key takeaways here?
    Don’t give up, if you really love fashion. You’re bound to run into roadblocks, but find creative solutions to overcome them. Finding a creative solution is what fashion is about anyhow, isn’t it?

    Get as much experience as you can, as early as possible. While in school, volunteer for projects—helping out at local fashion shows, or interning with a designer. Learn as much as you can, both in the classroom and outside. Read fashion magazines and trade publications like Women’s Wear Daily or the Daily News Record. Broaden your fashion knowledge in any way that you can!

    I took an unconventional route by going startup style (I guess it’s the Silicon Valley bug…how very 2000 of me). But hey, it’s becoming more acceptable as time goes on—just look at startup successes like C&C California. A more traditional route to becoming a designer is to intern at a company, work your way up the ladder, and eventually become a designer. Or starting your own label once you’ve established yourself at a major design house (e.g. a Calvin Klein or a Ralph Lauren). As for fashion styling, you would first intern with an established stylist, learn the ropes, and eventually break out on your own.

    A Word of Warning
    People aren’t kidding when they say fashion is a tough industry. Part of it I think is the inherent fickleness that fashion industry cultivates, but another part of it is due to the intense competition for jobs. I have no doubt that the slim profit margins of the industry also play a role. FYI—fashion salaries can be kind of grim. Especially when you’re starting out. Internships are often unpaid (or for little pay), and entry-level salaries aren’t so pretty either.

    I wish you the best of luck, and feel free to ask follow-up questions. I’m a strong supporter of fresh design talent, and would like to advise in any way as I can!

    Add comment April 19th, 2005

    Q&A: So you want to break into the fashion industry, Part Une

    I got a question from OrangeBox5 about what fashion designers and fashion stylists do, and how to break into the industry.

    So here’s the scoop:


    Fashion Design: Fashion designers provide “creative direction” for a line of clothing—they are responsible for the look and feel of the collection, and they oversee the design process.

    What is the design process? A simplified version looks like:

    • Choose collection theme.
    • Choose fabrics and colors.
    • Sketch garment ideas.
    • Refine the sketched garments, and choose the garments that will move on to the next stage: first samples.
    • Make first samples.
    • Test these samples through fittings on fit models.
    • Refine samples, and choose those for production, using input from fashion merchandisers and retailers who have placed orders.
    • Manufacture garments.
    • Quality assurance: check for garments out of spec.
    • Finishing & Tagging.
    • Ship to stores/customers.

    Things can get pretty crazy, considering that all this work needs to be done for each collection, and work is usually being done on multiple collections at the same time. The lead time from beginning to end of the design process has traditionally been about a year. This means that for a company with two collections per year (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter), they’ll be working on both at the same time, though they’ll be at different stages of the process at any given time. Just imagine how crazy it is for companies that produce four or five collections each year!

    Now, depending on the size of the company, designers will have a variety of assistants helping with the nuts and bolts of the process. There are textile specialists that source out fabrics from textile manufacturers, technicians that ensure that the fabrics are dyed the Exact Right Color, patterndrafters, sewers who sew the first samples, sketchers who translate the designer’s vision into a physical drawing, and more.

    Fashion Styling: Fashion styling, or fashion consulting, involves designing a “look” for a client. Stylists don’t make the clothes—they act as editors and pick and choose what they want to create the image they’re after. Stylists can work for celebrities, for clothing manufacturers (Fun Fact: Queer Eye’s Carson worked as a stylist for Ralph Lauren), for films, and for individuals. Each job is different, but here’s an outline of how a styling job might work:


    • Discuss with the client the look they’re after (and the budget for the job).
    • Obtain measurements of the individual(s) you’re dressing.
    • Shop! Find clothes! This has to be my Favorite part.
    • Meet with the client and review the clothing selections.
    • Dress the individual(s), and make any adjustments (style wise via accessories or tailoring for fit), as needed.

    FYI—the sheer length of my answer motivated me to split this post into two parts. Check back tomorrow for second part of this post, which discusses how I got started in fashion, as well as advice for those who want to break into the fashion industry.

    Add comment April 18th, 2005

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