Posts filed under 'How To'

Q&A: Three Simple Ways to Wear a Scarf

Q: Since you mention scarves in a lot of your articles, I decided to buy three really cute scarves. But now I don’t know how to wear them. I mean, I can guess with what - but how exactly are scarves worn right now? Whenever I see celebrities wear scarves I wonder how they make it look so effortless.

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Scarves are a versatile, inexpensive accessory that can add color, pattern and dimension to any wardrobe.  Here’s three super simple ways to wear them:

The Fold and Loop

Diamond Gingham Scarf
Diamond Gingham Scarf | $22.75 (approx) at Topshop

My favorite way to wear a scarf it to take a long one, fold it in half, and wrap it around your neck.  Take the side with the ends and pull it through the loop created by the other side.  I love to wear a long scarf on a windy day and have the breeze catch it and make it flutter.
Best For: Lightweight pashmina-type scarves.

The Basic Neck Wrap
AE Multi Check Scarf
AE Multicheck Scarf | $19.50 at American Eagle

Simply wrap the scarf around your neck once and then just let the ends drop where they will.  I think this method is appropriate for indoor wear, as it adds color without overwhelming the wearer or the outfit.  Keep in mind though that it does look pretentious to wear a big cashmere scarf wrapped once or twice around the neck when one is inside.
Best For: Long, narrow scarves.

The Square Tie
Buckle Satin Scarf
Buckle Satin Scarf | $7.80 at Forever 21

With a square scarf, you can place one pointed side down in front of your neck, and then take the ends and wrap once around your neck ending with a little tie. 
Best For: Small to medium sized square scarves.

Bonus scarf looks?  Try wrapping a scarf around your head à la Jackie O.  Very 60s chic.  Or tie a short scarf around a ponytail for a refreshingly youthful look.

How do you wear your scarves? Share your style with us in the comments!

14 comments November 25th, 2008

The Art of Sprezzatura (or Artful Dishevelment)

Gianni Agnelli
Gianni Agnelli’s "artful dishevelment."

by John Liu

I don’t know what’s happening, but the level of sloppiness in what some guys are wearing is simply getting out of hand.  Loud colors, ill-fitting clothes, sunglasses at night– it’s not stylish, it’s sloppy.

If you want to look as if you don’t care, that’s fine, but please do it with style.

Or more specifically, with sprezzatura, the Italian term for “artful dishevelment” as I call it (it’s not a literal translation).  You may do it already without knowing: sprezzatura is dressing like you don’t care, taking a nonchalant attitude with your appearance—when in fact you do take time and effort to create your look. 

The trick to pulling it off is subtlety, confidence and an otherwise impeccable outfit.  Let’s examine probably the greatest example of sprezzatura, Mr. Gianni Agnelli. Look at this picture of Mr. Agnelli in deep thought.  What is peculiar about his outfit?

Look carefully…do you notice his wrist?  It’s more apparent in this photo because your eye is naturally drawn to that area, but it has to do with his wristwatch.  Mr. Agnelli would often wear his watch outside his shirt cuff but under his jacket. 

The trick to successful artful dishevelment is twofold: subtlety and great sartorial know-how.  Imagine meeting Mr. Agnelli.  Would you even notice the watch?  Only if you looked carefully.  And that’s the point: the fashion quirk is subtle and understated.  If Mr. Agnelli didn’t comb his hair or if he wore an extremely wrinkled dress shirt, the dishevelment would no longer be “artful” but simply sloppy.

But even more important is that Mr. Agnelli’s suit is impeccably well cut.  He has great sartorial knowledge and flawless taste—and it shows.  If he wore an ill-fitting suit and a strange shirt/tie combo, people would consider him sloppily dressed.  But because his suit fits him perfectly, he still looks sharp.  That’s the fine line between artful dishevelement and simple sloppiness.

Michael BastianIn more recent times, sprezzatura has grown in popularity.  Michael Bastian, who designs his own eponymous label, is a study in sprezzatura.

First of all, notice the loosened tie.  Many men do this out of comfort, but they don’t consider how sloppy it can look.  But when Mr. Bastian does it, it looks stylish. Also, notice his jacket cuff.  See the two buttons unbuttoned?  Finally, look his unbuttoned jacket.  There’s a style “rule” that suit buttons should always be fastened whenever you’re not sitting.  Mr. Bastian looks like he’s giving that rule the proverbial middle finger.  You know he knows that rule, but he doesn’t care.  Sprezzatura is as much about confidence and attitude as anything.

Stefano TonchiI’ll share one more sprezzatura example: Stefano Tonchi.

Take a look at two things: (1) the single button fastened on the jacket, and (2) the part of the collar outside the jacket lapel, but not in a Tony Montana kind of way.  That’s his subtle quirk; what’s yours?

Notice in all three cases the lack of obnoxious wear: well cut suits with no loud colors, and confidence without cockiness.  That’s what separates these three from the average guy at a club on a Friday night.

It’s hard to look like you don’t care when you do.  When it’s done wrong, you have stereotypical “Los Angeles fashion”; when it’s done right, you have Mr. Agnelli, Mr. Bastian, and Mr. Tonchi.  It’s the difference between sloppily bad and eternally cool. 

Style tip? Steven Alan produces a great line of shirts that come wrinkled (if you’ve never seen a display of his clothes, they even hang on the rack at stores wrinkled and creased).  These shirts are a great place to start if you’re trying to get a feel for this sprezzatura.  But the bottom line is that true sprezzatura can’t be done for you and no one can tell you how to pull it off; it’s about feel.  And it varies from outfit to outfit; a wrinkled shirt in one outfit won’t necessarily look good in a different outfit. 

Pictured: Gianni Agnelli, courtesy of Citta di Torino; Michael Bastian, courtesy of men.style.com; Stefano Tonchi, courtesy of men.style.com.
 
Have a great tip about artful dishevelment?  Share it with us in the comments!

6 comments October 1st, 2008

Q&A: How to Wear a Tweed Jacket

Q:  I’ve seen some tweed sports jackets in fashion magazines for men.  Is this something that will be in style for Fall?  I’ve been looking for a tweed jacket and haven’t had any luck. 

Plaid Tweed Jacket at J Crew
Wool Plaid Tweed Jacket | $328 at J Crew.

by John Liu

A: Yes, tweed does seem to be back, but take care in how you wear it.  The tweed jacket can be refreshing and cool, but it needs to be done right.

I think tweed gets a bad rap from old school professors who wear it with patches on the elbows.  It can be worn with style, but I’m a bit more classic than the folks at GQ and Esquire, who seem to be pushing tweed as a trend for Fall.  I tend to think of tweed as “country” wear, where sophisticates sip on cognac and smoke pipe tobacco while wearing a fine tweed jacket.  Maybe that’s just me.

If you want to do tweed in the city at night, you may be able to pull it off with the right fit and complementary clothes.  If I had to make one outfit with a tweed jacket, I would start with a medium to charcoal gray tweed jacket (with a slim silhouette, lapels and no patches, of course).  Under that tweed jacket, wear a sweater or button-down.  And finish the outfit off with a pair of dark denim jeans (navy or black, if you like this Fall’s black jeans trend) or even pinwale cords. 

Whatever you do, keep your outfit simple; you’ll already be attracting attention for wearing tweed.  Let people admire the cut of your jacket—don’t distract them with a complicated pattern.  Oh and contrary to the pictured J Crew example, skip the t-shirt under the tweed blazer look. The wool and the rich tweed texture make this jacket more dressy, and the t-shirt tends to make the look immature, not young. The J Crew guys saved the look by layering the cardigan over the t-shirt.

Style Tip? Or perhaps more precisely, “comfort tip” – the heavier material of tweed makes the jacket both warmer and more formal than, say, a canvas blazer.  I’d recommend wearing tweed on cool Autumn and Winter evenings.  Also, stick to structured blazers, which will complement the formality of the fabric.

Have a great tip about how to wear a tweed jacket?  Share it with us in the comments!

21 comments September 17th, 2008

Ready Made Outfit: How to Wear Red and Pink

Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.


It’s a popular fashion "rule" that red and pink don’t mix (except maybe on Valentine’s day).  The idea is that red and pink look too girly–and that they don’t look great together in the first place.  We’re out to prove these fashion misconceptions wrong with a sophisticated outfit that’s as ladylike as it is chic.  Here’s how to create a red and pink outfit that works:

Choose the Right Shade of Pink. It’s hard to make pink work with red–but it can work with the right shade of pink.  We love a deep, rich pink like the one shown on the top, especially when this pink is paired with a chic fire engine red.

Look for Elegant Details. To counter the girly nature of red and pink, take care to choose elegant details like the buckle on the bag and the double row of buttons on the skirt.  Style is all in the details, and these elegant touches will make your look ladylike instead of girly.

Accessorize with Warm Neutral Colors. 
Against the backdrop of the red and the pink, warm colored neutrals are going to work best.  We love the chocolatey browns paired with the rich red and pink.

What are your favorite color combinations? Share your style with us in the comments!

7 comments September 4th, 2008

Fashion Emergency? Five Stylist Tricks of the Trade

Got a fashion emergency?  Never fear.  Be like a boy scout and Be Prepared with these five tricks of the trade:

Lint Roller
3M Lint Rollers
Lint Rollers (6pc) | $19.99 at Target

Have a furry pet?  A linty sweater?  Don’t be afraid.  Hug your pet, and wear your linty sweater.  Just brush yourself off with a lint roller afterwards.  There are both sticky sheet varieties and non-adhesive ones, but I find that the adhesives work more effectively.

Stain Remover Stick
Tide To Go Stain Remover Pen
Tide To Go Stain Remover Pen | $6.99 for 3 at Drugstore.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m a spiller.  Sauces, drinks, errant food items.  To keep my clothes clean, I have to be vigilant about stain removal.  For tough stains, I use a stain stick (which fits conveniently in a small handbag).

Fabric Steamer
Conair Compact Fabric Steamer
Conair Compact Fabric Steamer | $29.99 at Target

Especially useful if you want to revive a sweater that’s been sitting in your oversized handbag–or a blouse that’s gotten crumpled.  A steamer is easier on your clothes than an iron is, and it’s even simpler to use.  If you’re sans-steamer (e.g. on vacation), try hanging your clothes in the bathroom and run the shower on the highest heat.  It’s not as effective as a real steamer, but it works in a pinch.

Safety Pins
Singer Safety Pins
Singer Safety Pins | $2.19 at Walgreens

Have a small rip?  A button that falls off?  You don’t need a mini sewing kit (though props to you if you have one).  Simply use a safety pin or two to pin your clothes back together.  I keep safety ins in different colors (black, matte silver, and white) so I can choose the pin that best blends with my clothes.

Double Stick Tape
Scotch Double Stick Tape
Scotch Double Stick Tape | $1.64 at Amazon

Did your hem fall down?  You don’t have to bother with pinning it.  Double stick tape will do in a bind.  Just remember to splurge on extra sticky tape–and to get your hem sewn back up afterwards.

What’s your best fashion emergency tip?
  Share it with us in the comments!

9 comments August 8th, 2008

How to Choose the Right Sunglasses for Your Face

by John Liu

Everybody loves sunglasses. Here’s a primer on how to find the right pair for you:

To find the right sunglasses for you, start with the shape of your face.  Everyone’s face is unique, but there are a few general shapes into which faces can be categorized.  The basic idea is to get a pair of sunglasses that balances out your face shape; that is, a pair that exemplifies the opposite of your face shape.  Moreover, the edges of the glasses should “frame” your face exactly.  If the outer edge of the lens’ frame is wider or narrower than your face, the glasses don’t fit.  Oh, and always make sure you try on the pair in person before buying them.

Round Face
Jack Spade Chad Sunglasses
Jack Spade Chad Sunglasses | $275 at Marqsmen 

If you have full cheeks and a curved jawline, get a pair that contrasts this roundness.  To balance out your face, you’ll want a pair of sunglasses in a boxier shape.  For best results, make sure the edges of the sunglasses are rounded, not pointy or sharp. I love this pair by Jack Spade.

Oval Face
Oliver Goldsmith Mistinguett Sunglasses
Oliver Goldsmith Mistinguett Sunglasses | $290 (approx) at Adam Simmonds

If your face is long and lean (think Adrian Brody), you’ll want sunglasses that make your face appear wider.  A lot of people will say an oval shaped face will look good with any pair of sunglasses, but in my opinion, the ones that widen the face look the very best.  Look for lenses that are basically wide rectangles, like this pair by Oliver Goldsmith.

Triangular Face
Prada Aviator Sunglasses
Prada Aviator Sunglasses | $275 at Saks Fifth Avenue 

If you have a broad forehead and a narrower chin, you’ll want a pair that complements that shape.  That means you want a pair that are wider at the top and narrower at the bottom.  Aviators are ideal here.  I like this sleek pair by Prada.

Bonus Sunglasses Style Tips:
(1) The best sunglasses offer both UVA and UVB protection and are polarized.  Polarized sunglasses also distort natural colors the least.  If you spend a lot of time on the water, these features are a must; the sunlight reflecting off the water is poison for your eyes.

(2) Often, like with the classic Wayfarer (probably the most timeless pair out there), you can put in regular lenses and wear your sunglasses as a stylish pair of regular glasses.  Go to your optometrist for more information.

Ray Ban Wayfarer
Ray Ban Wayfarer | $110 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Have a great tip about how to choose the right pair of sunglasses?  Share it with us in the comments!

9 comments July 9th, 2008

Q&A: How to Be a Modern Day Style Icon

Q: I love retro style like Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly.  How can I modernize these styles into today’s fashion?

Style Icons: Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn all embody timeless American style.  Audrey is famous for her elegant black sheath dress, capri pants, ballet flats, and large dark sunglasses. Her style is perfectly suited to her body type and personality - thin, graceful and gamine.  (She was also fortunate to have Hubert Givenchy to dress her.) Grace Kelly is famous for her cinched waists, full skirts, fitted tops, pearls, and her classic Kelly bag.  And Katharine Hepburn, exuding professional style, made menswear her signature look. 

What do Audrey, Grace, and Katharine have in common?  Each was an icon of their own personal style.  So to modernize this looks, do as these style icons did:

Wear clothing that suits your figure.  Not your style icon’s figure, not your best friend’s figure–your figure.  Be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t–and choose your silhouettes accordingly.

Create, don’t Copy. Instead of copying Audrey, Katharine, or Grace’s style directly, create your own signature style.  Sure, it can be based on that of your style icon, but make it your own.  Katharine Hepburn made trousers her signature piece.  What will your signature piece be?

Create your signature style around classic, clean lines. 
Your clothes won’t overwhelm you, and maintaining a clean silhouette allows you to play with accessories, hairstyles, and makeup. 

Pictured: Katharine Hepburn (courtesy of Fashion Me Fabulous), Audrey Hepburn (courtesy of AudreyHepburn.com), and Grace Kelly (courtesy of GraceKellyOnline).

Have a great tip about how to be a modern day style icon? Share it with us in the comments!

4 comments July 1st, 2008

How to Buy Budget Fashion that Looks like Designer Fashion


Here at Omiru, we ask why you would spend $500 when you can spend $50 (or less) on great looking clothes.  But how do you build a wardrobe of budget pieces that actually look expensive?  Here’s what to look for in cheap chic clothes that can (almost) double for designer pieces:

Issac Mizrahi Taffeta Couture DressFit
The most important thing for an item of clothing to appear expensive is correct fit.  In fact, without correct fit, even the most expensive item of clothing (even that perfectly made designer shirt) will look cheap.  So don’t compromise when trying on clothes in the dressing room.  If that dress shirt fits just okay–but it doesn’t fit perfectly–leave it in the dressing room.  Trust us–you’ll thank us later when you have a closetful of clothes that fit you to a T.  Fit truly makes the difference.

Pictured: Issac Mizrahi Taffeta Couture Dress | $49.99 at Target

Subversive Silk Crystal Beaded NecklaceColor
The trick with color is realizing that some colors are available at all price points, and some colors are mainly seen at higher price points.  Basic black, white, beige, and even navy can be found at all levels, from budget to couture.  But some colors–such as that gorgeous shade between peach and rose pink or that deep jewel toned blue aquamarine–tend to be more common at higher price points.  Sure, colors like them are seen at lower price points, but the hue is often a bit off.  But occasionally, you’ll find these gorgeous colors at budget price points.  Snap em up–they’re instant chic.

Pictured: Subversive Silk Crystal Beaded Necklace | $59.99 at Target

Jessica Stripe Skirt DressPattern
Have you ever noticed that some patterns look expensive, while other patterns look cheap?  I look for clean shapes, and patterns that are classic-yet-quirky.  Stripes, for example, can be a cheap looking, boring, vanilla pattern.  But get the right stripes–perhaps in an interesting color palette, or maybe in varying widths–and suddenly they look like they belong on the runway.

Pictured: Jessica Stripe Skirt Dress | $24.80 at Forever 21

Boy Meets Girl Dress
Details

The beauty of clothes is largely in the details, as they give garments that extra special touch.  A plain vanilla shirt, for instance, can be taken to a whole new level with special details like tiny pleating, shirring, or even something like topstitching.  So when you’re shopping budget lines, look for special detailing.  You’d be surprised how often you can find designer-type detailing on low priced lines.

Pictured: Boy Meets Girl Dress | $39 at Twelve by Twelve

Have a great tip about how to buy affordable clothes that look expensive?
  Share it with us in the comments!

13 comments June 20th, 2008

Men’s Q&A: How to Buy a Bespoke Suit

Q:  I want to purchase a bespoke suit.  I’ve never purchased one before.  What should I look out for?  I’m willing to pay a huge premium, but only if I will definitely get my money’s worth.

Kiton Bespoke Suitby John Liu

A: One time I was at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco.  It was the kind of place where you have to wear a jacket to get in, and if you show up without one, they give you one from their closet.  I sat down and looked at the menu, which was pretty much completely inaccessible to anyone who’s not a Michelin-rated chef.  Rather than try to decipher it, I asked the waiter as casually as I could, “So how is the steak?”

“Oh, it’s terrible,” he replied.

Now, he was being sarcastic, but I got the point: whatever I ordered, it was going to be great.

If you pick the right restaurant, you don’t have to know anything about food and can rest assured that you’ll get a good meal.  Likewise, if you pick the right tailor, you don’t need to know anything about clothes, and you can rest assured that you’ll get a great suit.

Sure, I could give you a long laundry list of things to look out for.  But if you’re going to the right place, I’m certain that the tailor will be doing these things anyways. My one piece of advice would be to know exactly what you want in terms of color, fabric, and style going in.  The best tailors don’t give their input; rather, they simply do what you want them to do.  Besides, the whole point of bespoke is to make a suit for exactly for you.

If you haven’t gone down the bespoke path before, you likely don’t have a good bespoke tailor you can trust.  So do your homework.  Search online for user reviews of tailors in your city.  The bigger the city you live in, the pickier you can be, of course.  When you find a tailor that gets consistently favorable reviews, go visit the tailor and ask to see his/her work.  See if the tailor will let you talk to some of his/her customers and ask them about their experience.

Also, a “huge premium” can actually be really huge when talking about bespoke.  The Kiton “K50,” aptly named because it takes approximately 50 hours to create, costs $30,000 to $50,000, and is made exclusively by Kiton’s chief tailor who personally measures and fits the client.  If you already knew this and still are willing to pay this kind of premium, try Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, which measures bespoke Kiton, or Kiton in New York.  If you’re in London, check out Kilgour or any other fine tailor on Saville Row. 

Finally, keep in mind that a true bespoke suit isn’t created overnight.  A bespoke suit will take you a few visits to create.  And a good bespoke tailor will allow you to wear the suit, get it cleaned a few times, and then go back for more tailoring for a perfect fit.

Style Tip 1: For more information on the bespoke process, and what you should expect to do (roughly) with each visit, be sure to read this discussion from Ask Andy About Clothes.

Style tip 2: If that answer didn’t satisfy you, here are five things to look out for:

  1. If it is “bespoke,” it should mean that the tailor is the actual cutter of the fabric.  Ask him to make sure he is.
  2. The very best tailors also make their own garments.  There aren’t too many of these tailors left, but if you find one, consider yourself lucky.
  3. The use of a sewing machine should be very limited.  Bespoke suits should be hand-made, for the most part.  That means, literally, the tailor sews the vast majority of the suit by hand.
  4. Make sure the canvas is hand-sewn or “floating.”  If the answer is “no,” or the word “glue” is mentioned, run.
  5. Labels don’t mean much in bespoke.

Have a great tip about how to buy a bespoke suit?  Share it with us in the comments!

Pictured: Kiton Bespoke Suit, courtesy of The Sartorialist on men.style.com.

3 comments June 4th, 2008

Q&A: How to Wear a White Jacket Without Looking Like a Doctor (or an extra on Grey’s Anatomy)

Q: I love white jackets/blazers, especially in the summer, but I always feel like I look like a doctor or a vet! Any advice? I’, 5′4" I usually wear a size 2-4P on top, but I am pretty curvy (32D), so I usually avoid cropped styles and jackets with more than 2 front buttons.

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Sounds like you’re already on the right track.  Since you’re curvy and have a full bust, you want to keep your neckline very open by wearing single breasted jackets in semi-fitted shapes.  Like you already know, jackets with a single or double button closure are going to be your best bets.  (Bonus points for jackets that button right under your bustline.)

And cheers for you for embracing the White Jacket.  White jackets and blazers look fresh for summer, especially given this season’s focus on white.  But how do you wear these white jackets without looking like an extra on Grey’s Anatomy?  Here’s three ways to avoid the doctor look with a white jacket:

Go Feminine and Flirty with a Brightly Colored Top and a Pretty Skirt



Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


To best flatter your figure, look for moderately low cut blouses and camisoles.  The light fabric and open neckline will help to visually lengthen your torso and balance out your bustline.  They’ll show enough skin to keep your chest from looking too top heavy, but they’ll also provide enough cover to avoid revealing too much.  A splash of bright color peeking out from underneath your jacket will elevate your outfit while keeping the look flirty and playful (and non-doctor-like).

As for skirts, navy looks especially fetching with a crisp white jacket (for the same reason why dark blue jeans and a white shirt are an American classic). 

Go Classic (with a Twist) with Black and White



Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


Pair your white jacket with a black and white striped tank top.  Narrow stripes are going to be best here; stripes that are too wide will overly accentuate your bustline.  Add a skirt in medium grey, dark enough to provide contrast to the white jacket, but light enough to complement the white.

Go Casual-Yet-Tailored Look with a Sexy Top and Dark Jeans



Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


Create a look that’s one part tailored and one part relaxed by mixing casual and formal elements.  You can try toeing the line between casual and formal with a crisp white blazer, a sexy top, and a dark wash jean with a lean leg line.  Be sure to add a very sexy, strappy black heel for added interest.

Have a great tip about how to wear a white jacket? Share it with us in the comments!

6 comments May 22nd, 2008

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