Posts filed under 'Q&A'

Q&A: How to Build Your Wardrobe from Scratch

Q:  I’m getting a pretty big bankroll for Christmas this year, and I’d like to spend almost all of it on clothes.  I have a few questions - should I buy all clothes for the winter? Or mix it up for Spring coming next year? What are some of your favorite things that are currently out? When building a new wardrobe, what are your "must haves" that you need to get before anything else. Also a list of your favorite stores would be great too. And maybe show me some of YOUR recent purchases.  I love clothes and am a big fan of name designer brands.

A: Well-dressed men are never define by who they wear; rather, it’s about how they wear it.

As far as what one “should” buy, my answer really depends on a few things, none of which concern what season is currently in store.

I am a firm believer that if one splurges on clothes, one should first splurge on essentials, items that never go out of style.  These pieces should be your first priority: a wool charcoal single breasted suit, a wool navy single breasted suit, a couple pairs of shirts (either solid white or solid light blue), a couple of ties (solids and stripes only for now), one pair of black leather oxford lace-ups, one pair of brown leather oxford lace-ups, a wool overcoat (either in navy or charcoal), and a dress belt (black and brown reversible; keep the egregiousness of the belt buckle to a minimum).  I am also assuming you have a pair of dark navy jeans, with no fade or ridiculous embellishments on the rear pockets, as well as solid navy or charcoal sweaters.

This is the foundation of a well-dressed man’s wardrobe; the colors I pick –navy and charcoal- are the two most versatile.  Notice I did not pick a black suit.  I don’t know when it became acceptable to wear a black suit during the daytime, but it is not “appropriate.” 

If you don’t yet have all of these items, get them.  If you feel like you know about proper fit, from reading posts on this site, or from reading magazines, or from other respected forums (Ask Andy about Clothes is a classic), feel free to shop around.  If you are less-than-confident, go to a respected department store and trust the TAILOR (not necessarily the salesman).  Listen to what he has to say, and follow his advice.  Note that magazines such as GQ and the like often pick up on trends that are not deemed “traditional” fit.

Now, if you DO already have these items, pick up pieces from what I am arbitrarily deeming the second “tier” of the foundation.  These items include classics such as bomber jackets, wool peacoats, scarves, mackintoshes, trench coats, slacks, blazers, and suits in colors not previously mentioned (keep them wool, for now).

If you also have these second tier foundation items in your closet, you can start to find more novelty, trendy items.  Read through the trends highlighted on this site; there are plenty and not worth listing here.

As for what I’ve bought recently, I’m never one to buy and tell (designer wise), but I will say that the items included a navy oilcloth peacoat, a crewneck gray sweater, a wax cotton jacket in a fantastic dark olive, and a navy windbreaker with a vivid red detail.  I also managed to find a great pair of cords on Gilt, as well as some ties.  I think my next purchase will be a toggle coat.

If you really are insistent on brand names, I would suggest buying items that do not have labels or logos showing.  You pay for brand names for fit, details, texture and quality of construction (well, you should anyway), not so you can show people how much you can spend.  I have a pretty firm “no logos” rule.  I would make exceptions for jeans from Dior Homme (the “slash” is a logo of sorts) and items from Martin Margiela (the 4 thread indentations are a clever subtle logo).

As far as my favorite stores, I really don’t want to be a walking advertisement for a designer, so I make a conscious effort to mix it up.  Here’s a few of my favorites: I like Steven Alan for button downs; H&M for novelty trendy items; Gilt.com for anything; Alexander Olch for ties; and James Perse for t-shirts.  Michael Kors (the designer himself) is known for loving peacoats, and it is reflected in the peacoats he sells.

One last word on style: an item isn’t a good deal just because it is on sale.  It’s a good deal if you would have paid more than the price for that item, regardless of what the price is and regardless of whether it is on sale or not.

And a last word - don’t be afraid to save some of that bankroll to pay your parents, undoubtedly the generous donors of this gift, for, say, college tuition.  Spending beyond one’s means helped get us into this economic mess.

Have a great tip about how to build your wardrobe from the ground up? Share it with us in the comments!

15 comments December 22nd, 2009

What to Wear to Give a Presentation

Q: I am a college student that is a business major. As finals week slowly approach, I have presentations to present. What should I wear to the presentation? My dilemma is that I don’t want to look too overdressed or underdressed. Would a simple black dress and a boyfriend fit blazer with black flats be okay to wear?

wool-gabardine-one-button-jacket_121009
Pictured: Wool Gabardine One Button Jacket | $235 at J Crew.

A: Whether it’s a presentation during finals or a boardroom presentation in the workplace, the key to dressing well is to wear something that you feel confident in.  We all have outfits (and shoes) that make us feel good - and ready to take on whatever the day throws at us.  For a presentation where it’s important to make a good impression, tip the scales in your favor by wearing a tried and true favorite.  Or if you’re buying something new for the presentation, make sure to try on the whole outfit to get the right fit - and feel - before the day of the event.  That way, the day of the presentation, you can focus on what really matters: your message.

For a college presentation, you’ll want to keep your look professional, but still youthful.  If you wear a suit, keep it fitted and feel free to take some liberties with your shirt - you don’t have to wear a plain white or striped button-down.  Try different fabrics (like the chambray shirt, pictured), colors, or silhouettes.  You can also choose to go the dress route and wear a simple dress, as you suggested, with a professional looking jacket.  You may want to mix up the colors - a heathered grey dress with a navy blazer, for instance, would be both professional and a little more visually interesting. 

For a workplace presentation, a good rule of thumb is to dress a level or two above your position.  That way, you’ll be sure to look polished, but you won’t be overly dressy. 

If you’re being filmed, here’s a couple of extra style notes:

(1) Bright, vibrant colors work best for TV; they look good to the eye - and the camera.
(2) Try not to wear white clothes - it’ll wash out the lighting.
(3) Same goes for pure black or navy clothes.  While they look good to your eye, they tend to look like a solid patch of darkness to the camera’s eye.
(4) Fine patterns like herringbone and small checks can cause a wavy effect; avoid these patterns where possible.

Have a great tip about what to wear to a presentation? Share it with us in the comments!

7 comments December 11th, 2009

Q&A: What to Wear to a Winter Graduation

Q:  I’m going to be graduating from college this December. Usually one can find all kinds of style tips for graduation in the spring, but I’m graduating a semester early, and now I’m just a little confused about what to wear. I go to Texas A&M University, so I’m predicting it to be relatively cold (40s-50s), but I want to look sophisticated and skinny.  My question is, what should I wear for a December graduation?  I’m 5′ 10" and weigh about 165, with most of my weight in the hips & thighs.

What to Wear to a Winter Graduation
Pictured: Wool Ribbon Script Coat | $275 at J Crew, Silk Taffeta Bow Monde Dress | $225 at J Crew, Merino Rose Corsage Cardigan | $71.60 (sale) at J Crew, Mab D’Orsay Pumps | $79 at Nine West.  Here’s more information about this look.


A:
Graduation, whether it’s in the Spring or the Winter, is a time to celebrate, and a rite of passage for you as you blossom into your adult self.  You can show your family and friends that you’re a grown up in a sophisticated dress or blouse and skirt combination.  But as it’s going to be cold out, you’ll want to dress in layers so that you can adjust to the temperatures inside and out. 

To flatter your figure, choose a dress (or skirt) that skims over your hips.  Wrap styles will work well, as will empire waist dresses and moderate a-line shaped skirts.  To draw attention upward, try a dress with an open neckline - or show some skin on your shoulders or arms.  J Crew’s silk taffeta bow monde dress will flatter your lower body while drawing attention up towards your upper body and face.

Since it’s cold out, layer up.  Slip on a sweater on top (note: cashmere is extra warm), and try a pair of pantyhose or tights and closed-toe pumps to help keep your legs and feet warm.  Finish off the look with a stunning overcoat - and a bright smile.

What would you wear to a winter graduation? Share your style with us in the comments!

7 comments December 4th, 2009

How to Wear Cargo Pants

Q: I noticed [cargo pants] are making somewhat of a comeback, especially simpler and better fitted (read, slimmer) versions. J. Crew has a couple out this fall that I bought and am in love with. Rugged, military, and go with a lot of stuff.

A: Cargo pants are indeed making a comeback, what with the military-inspired trends we’re seeing for men this Fall.  The good news?  The more fitted versions of cargo pants that you’re seeing today are a far cry from the oversized, stuff-your-pockets versions that were popularized in the 1990s.  What we love about cargo pants is that they’re a great substitute for khaki pants and the dark-rinse jeans you have in heavy rotation.  And they do work with a wide variety of looks.  Here’s three looks that show you how to wear cargo pants:

Look 1: Shawl Collar Cardigan + Collared Shirt + Skinny Tie + Cargo Pants + Boots

How to Wear Cargo Pants, Look 1
Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


Why does this outfit work?  We love the mix of casual and formal, tailored and relaxed.  The shawl collar cardigan acts as a casual version of the blazer - and takes the edge off of the collared shirt and tie combo.  The rugged boots, which feel at home with the cargo pants, finish off the look with a casual flourish.

Look 2: Bright Polo + Cargo Pants + Casual Belt + Sneakers

How to Wear Cargo Pants, Look 2
Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


Why does this outfit work?  The masculine cargo pant gets a shot of fresh air with a bright yellow polo.  The unexpected shot of color breathes new life into the look - and we love the mustardy yellow paired with a neutral khaki.  The casual look is belted with a canvas belt and finished off with a pair of stylish sneakers.

Look 3: Henley + Cargo Pants + Casual Belt + Boots

How to Wear Cargo Pants, Look 3
Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.


Why does this outfit work? The fitted henley exemplifies casual elegance, and it adds an air of relaxed sophistication to the otherwise rugged look.  Tuck the henley into the cargo pants and complete the look with a casual canvas belt.  Rugged military-inspired boots help keep the look grounded as well.

Last thoughts about how to wear cargo pants?
(1) Cargo pants are weekend-only pants.  They’re a substitute for khakis and jeans, but unless your office is pretty casual, save them for the weekend.
(2) Because cargo pants have a rugged, military vibe to them, pair them with the appropriate style of shoe: boots or sneakers.  No fancy oxfords or loafers.
(3) Please, please, please don’t stuff your pockets with extraneous items.  A slim-fit wallet, yes.  But if your pockets are bulging, that’s too much.  Just because cargo pants feature extra pockets doesn’t mean that they’re meant to be functional.

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

15 comments September 23rd, 2009

How Real People Can Get the Skinny Jeans Look

Q:  Skinny jeans are the rage for fall, but some of us aren’t tall and a size 2. How can regular sized folks with a bit of muffin top translate the look?

The Skinny Jeans Look for Real People
Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.


A:
Well said!  Though skinny jeans appear to be ubiquitous, they’re certainly not for everybody (though, I might add, they’re great for women with short legs, as they make their legs look longer and leaner - I promise!).  But if your personal architecture is steering you away from the severe, skinny cut of these pants, you can get a similar look with straight leg jeans.  Straight leg jeans are easier to wear, especially if your figure isn’t as clean as that of a model. 

In order to find the most figure flattering pair of jeans, I look for stretch styles, which help smooth out bumps and other figure imperfections, while maintaining a slim silhouette.  One other tip for finding jeans that flatter "a bit of a muffin top" is to look for jeans with a higher rise, as the muffin top will be less prominent.  Last thoughts?  In order to camouflage any remaining "puffing" out of the jeans, look for a top that blouses out at the point where it overlaps with the jeans.  Here’s how to get the look of skinny jeans for Real People:

1. Start with a pair of straight leg, stretchy jeans for a figure flattering yet slim silhouette.
2. Add a voluminous blouse on top for a big-over-small look.  Note how the blouse skims over your middle, creating the appearance of a slim figure regardless of your personal architecture.
3. Skinny jeans are traditionally paired with booties, pumps, or flats.  Here, we’ve paired these straight jean replacements with a fun pair of yellow flats to keep the outfit youthful in spirit. 
4. Finish off the outfit with your favorite handbag or clutch.  This straw bow clutch (and the entire outfit) will take you to a outdoors get-together with friends.

How would you translate the skinny jeans look for real people? Share your style with us in the comments!

8 comments August 19th, 2009

What to Wear with a Minidress? Leather.

Q:  I like the idea of a minidress, but my style isn’t too girly.  What should I wear it with?

What to Wear with a Minidress
Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.


A:
Yup, it seems that it’s officially minidress week here at Omiru.  We love minidresses, but we agree that they can be a bit precious.  How do you balance out a delicate minidress so that the overall look isn’t too twee?  Pair it with harder elements to give the look an edge.  Here’s how to get the minidress and leather look:

1.  Start with a delicate minidress.  Notice how the ruffly tiers add a sense of femininity to the already girly dress.
2.  Slip on a leather jacket.  We love how the buttery brown pairs with the red and blue in the dress.
3.  Finish off the look with a pair of killer heels (look at the heel height!  and the cuffed ankle!) and a clutch.

What would you wear with a minidress? Share your style with us in the comments!

8 comments August 6th, 2009

Q&A: What to Wear in Amsterdam

Q: I’m heading to Amsterdam with my husband and 8 month old little girl this August. I need some advice on what to pack. I want to be stylish, yet still be comfortable and warm if temperature is cool. I will need practical, everyday outfits as well one or two dressy options.

What to Wear in Amsterdam
Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.


by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Amsterdam will be wonderful in August.  Temperatures will be moderate - expect temps between the mid 50s at night and the 70s (and maybe 80s) during the day.  The excellent weather, however, will bring out the crowds, so expect tons of events and festivals and the visitors to match.

Style wise, Amsterdam is a creative city.  The city is known for liberalism and tolerance, and it’s certainly reflected in the clothing.  If you have an itch to explore an edgier side to your personal style, you can scratch that itch in Amsterdam.  You can get your inspiration from Amsterdam street style blog Dam Style.

As you have a one year old traveling with you, you will want to be comfortable but fashionable.  The ideal for you will be a mix of form and function.  Here’s what you’ll want to pack for your trip to Amsterdam:

Tops: Pack a variety of tee shirts (especially ones that don’t take themselves too seriously), along with an arty looking blouse or two.

Bottoms:  Shorts should be appropriate for daytime sightseeing.  We like tailored styles that hit at about the knee, but whatever style flatters your legs is going to be your best bet.  If you dare, skinny jeans are great for the eclectic vibe of the city (but straight jeans are perfectly fine).  Simple skirts will also work, and they’re easier to wear. 

Sweaters: A couple of lightweight sweaters, especially ones with interesting textures and patterns, will do the trick.

Outerwear: A single lightweight jacket will work for your trip to Amsterdam.

Dresses:  Try a couple of vintage-y dresses that work during the daytime - but can be dressed up for evening with the right shoes and jewelry.

Accessories:  Comfortable walking shoes, a nice dressy pair of shoes for nighttime, some fun jewelry, a hat and sunglasses will round out your travel wardrobe.  Not to mention a good backpack or diaper bag to hold your necessities - and the baby gear.

Last thoughts?  Pack a light umbrella just in case of summer showers.  And don’t forget bug spray, since Amsterdam is close to the water.

Have a great tip about what to wear in Amsterdam? Share it with us in the comments!

4 comments July 29th, 2009

Vegas Fashion: What to Wear in Vegas

Q:  I’ll be heading down to Las Vegas for a few days in July. Any tips for what I should pack?

Sophisticated Going Out Style
Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.


A:
What do you wear for a trip to Vegas?  Sin City style is over the top, glitzy–and more than a little risque.  But you can be daring without going overboard. The rule of thumb is to pick a part of your body to show off–just not your entire body.  You can show off some skin with a low cut top, but pair that skin-baring top with a skirt that reaches your knee.  Or if you wear a miniskirt, keep your top half covered.  Our example outfit, above, is a great example of how you can dress up at night without looking trashy.  It works for a woman in her 20s or 30s, but it can be adapted for women in their 40s or above.

Be prepared for the weather.  Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert - with the weather to match.  During the summer, expect temperatures into the 100s during the day and in the high 60s to mid 70s at night.  You don’t have to worry about humidity, but get ready for some extreme heat (and air conditioning on full blast).

At night, you’ll be dressing up to go out to dinner, shows, and clubs.  Think dresses—or going-out tops over skirts.  During the day, you’ll want a set of more casual clothes to take you shopping–and perhaps over to the spa.  Think cropped pants plus an embellished tank top.  Or shorts with a brightly colored tee.  For a long weekend in Vegas, here’s what you need to pack:

Tops: A couple of casual tops for daytime wear supplemented by a going-out top or blouse will do the trick.  Try bright colors—or tops featuring embellishment—to stay true to the Vegas spirit.  Don’t be afraid of a little sparkle.

Sweaters: Pack a light sweater or two for nighttime and/or heavily air conditioned areas.  Cropped sweaters are great with dresses, but a long cardigan paired with a dress is a very modern look.  

Outerwear:  It’s Vegas!  No jackets required.  If anything, you can bring a single lightweight jacket in case you get cold in the casinos. 

Dresses: Bring a dress or two, depending on how many evenings you’ll be going out.  We love drapey dresses that aren’t overly figure hugging; they leave something to the imagination.

Bottoms: Miniskirts if you dare (and have great legs), or knee-length pencil skirts (which tend to be fairly figure flattering).  For daytime, shorts or cropped pants are going to work.  We love knee-length tailored shorts for a pulled-together and figure flattering look.

Shoes: Heels are great for evenings out, but flats or sandals are best during the day.  Don’t forget a pair of flip flops for vegging by the pool.

Last thoughts about what to wear to Vegas?  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  So get dressed to have fun.  And don’t forget your swimsuit, sunscreen, and a cover up.

Have a great tip about what to wear to Vegas? Share your style with us in the comments!

12 comments June 30th, 2009

Washington DC Style: What to Wear to Teach in Washington DC

Q: I’m a fourth grade teacher moving to Washington DC this summer. What should my new wardrobe staples be?  I’m moving to a new school and want to create a good first impression!

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


by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Congratulations on starting your first teaching job!  It should be no surprise that (1) Washington DC is a conservative city style wise (though in Michelle Obama you do have a new fashion icon to take cues from), and (2) it’s a city with very distinct seasons – and it can be fairly warm even in the Fall and Spring.  Be prepared for daytime temperatures ranging from 40s in the Winter to 80s in the Summer, plus humidity.  Here’s what you need to build your wardrobe around when you move to Washington DC this Fall:

Suit: Even though you won’t be wearing a suit to teach every day, you’ll want to have one handy for any important meetings that come up.  Since you’re teaching, your suit doesn’t need to be ultra conservative.  Feel free to spice up your suit with details like three-quarter sleeves or a tulip skirt.

Blouses: Build your wardrobe around a series of well-cut blouses in a variety of colors and shapes.  Washington may be conservative, but bright colors will help keep the kids’ eyes on you.  Just make sure that the tops aren’t overly low cut.  Look for short sleeves for warm weather and long sleeves for cooler months. 

Sweaters: Simple cardigan and pullover sweaters in a variety of versatile colors will help you layer

Pants: Tailored Pants will help round out your wardrobe.  If you’re a jeans kind of woman (and denim is allowable on the job), we’d recommend a nice pair of trouser jeans.  They’re uber-comfortable and will help you look instantly pulled together.

Dresses and Skirts: On the whole, skirts are going to be less practcal than pants since you’ll be taking care of 4th graders all day.  But if you’re going to add dresses or skirts to your wardrobe, make sure they’re ones that you can move in.  No severe cuts (or overly short styles).

Outerwear: A light trench will keep you warm during mornings and evenings for warmer months.  When the weather turns chilly, however, you’ll want a full East Coast worthy winter coat.  Look for tailored cuts in versatile neutrals (or brights, if you dare) in the best fabrics you can afford.  Cashmere is going to be super warm, but if it’s out of your price range, try a wool cashmere blend.  Also, keep on the lookout for pre-season and off-season sales to snag your coat - as an investment piece, it can be on the expensive side. 

Accessories: Keep your jewelry minimal, as it can be distracting to the kids in your class.  A scarf, however, is going to be a chic choice all year round.

Handbag: A simple structured work tote that will carry papers and books home will serve you well.  Make sure that it’s one that can survive a beating - you never know what kinds of stains it’ll be exposed to in the classroom and beyond.

Shoes:  Flats or kitten heels are going to be your best bet.  You’ll be on your feet all day, and you’ll be picking up after the kids in your class.  Make sure that your shoes are comfortable enough to keep your feet happy.

Last thoughts?  Keep in mind that stores like Ann Taylor Loft and J Crew offer discounts for teachers – so do use those savings where you can.

Have a great tip about what to wear as a teacher in Washington DC? Share it with us in the comments!

7 comments June 19th, 2009

Q&A: What to Wear in Spain during the Summer

what-to-wear-to-spain_060909
Pictured: Short Sleeve Twist Detail Top | $34.30 (sale, originally $49) at Banana Republic, Cotton Smocked Skirt | $55.20 (sale, originally $69) at Banana Republic, and Cotton Bonbon Dress | $78 at J Crew.

Seems that Spain is a hot summer destination, based on the number of questions we’ve been getting about what to wear on Spanish summer getaways.  For all of you Omiru readers who will be vacationing there this summer, here’s our guide for what to wear in Spain this summer:

Our reader questions center on three Spanish destinations: Madrid, Barcelona, and Costa Brava.  Madrid is going to be the hottest of the three, with temperatures in the 90s during the day, and 60s at night.  June is slightly more mild, but July and August are stiflingly hot - so make sure to get a hotel with good air conditioning. 

Barcelona and Costa Brava are going to be more comfortable than Madrid.  Barcelona in June is going to be in the mid 70s, dipping into the low 60s at night.  In July, the weather heats up to the high 70s or 80s during the day.  As for Costa Brava, look for temperatures in the high 70s during the day and mid 60s at night.

To stay comfortable in this toasty weather, here’s what you need to pack for your trip to Spain:

Tops: Breathable knits and woven shirts are going to be your best bet.  Pack an assortment of layering tees (roll them up to be most space-efficient when packing), plus a few short sleeved cotton or linen shirts.  Extra style points for bright colors–perfect for such a festive vacation spot.

Sweaters: A lightweight sweater (or two, max) will do the trick.

Dresses:
Pack a nice bright dress for evenings out on the town.  Extra style points for trying out exotic prints.

Outerwear: Pack a single lightweight jacket for nighttime.

Bottoms: Shorts and cropped pants are going to be the most weather-appropriate.  If you’re a skirt kind of gal, feel free to pack a skirt or two as well.  We’re loving the breezy chic look of a layered cotton smocked skirt–very flirty and extremely versatile.

Accessories: Sunglasses (oversized for drama), a hat to protect your face from the sun, and a scarf (optional) for layering.  Check the weather forecast before you leave to see if you need a travel umbrella; rain is rare but not unheard of.

Shoes:  Sandals are going to be a must–but choose ones that you’re comfortable walking in.  Also pack a pair of flip flops for the beach.

Have a great tip about what to wear to Spain this summer? Share it with us in the comments!

17 comments June 12th, 2009

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