Glam Slam: Style Q&A With Stacy London

Got fashion questions? Problems? Concerns? Issues? Hey, don’t we all?! Now, you can get stylist help without being a celeb or with the celeb stylist price tag. TLC’s “What Not to Wear” style maven Stacy London has launched Style for Hire, a national organization of personal stylists, handpicked for the company and certified by Stacy herself. Stacy, the co-founder and stylist-in-chief, (how great is THAT title?!) took time out of her extremely hectic schedule to answer some of our most pressing style questions.

What is your approach to styling?
The basic Style for Hire styling approach is to create looks based on clients’ needs. We start with three basic categories: body shape, age, and lifestyle. A good stylist should be able to create outfits that give the client that special “aha!” moment in the mirror, while keeping in mind her specific needs and remaining within budget.

What is some advice you can give to women about attaining their personal style?
Start with the fundamentals! I always recommend doing an honest assessment of your body shape – at home — before you start any shopping. Objectively and without judgment, stand in front of a mirror and note the parts of your body that are wider or narrower or shorter or longer than a proportional, hourglass shape.

There are five basic female body types: bigger on the top, bigger on the bottom, extra in the middle, straight (not curvy) and the holy grail – proportional! But remember only 8 percent of women in the U.S. actually have a proportional, hourglass figure. So, the rest of us need to utilize styling tools to help create the illusion of having a perfectly proportional body shape. That’s where a stylist can really help, and be an objective eye.

Understanding your unique shape, without judgment, is an important step on the road to determining what you prefer to highlight and camouflage when you are shopping.

Body shape, check. Now what?
Once you’ve gotten a better sense of your true body shape, you can begin to identify the appropriate pieces for it. For example, if you have a broader chest or wide shoulders, avoid anything that will widen you: horizontal stripes, extreme shoulder pads or puffed sleeves. Look for clothing that creates volume in your bottom half like A-line skirts or dresses and wide-leg trousers. They will de-emphasize a wider shoulder or chest and give the illusion of a more proportional silhouette.

If you carry your weight in your belly, your instinct may be to hide it with blousy tops and baggy clothes, but this will only make you appear wider. Always attack the area you want to hide! In this case, a fitted structured jacket with a nipped in waist. Try wearing a belt just above your natural waist, or a top with a v-shaped neckline. This will pull focus up to the face and emphasize the smallest part of your torso.

The goal when dressing your body is to create balance, and once you understand where to add or subtract volume, the easier it is to achieve a look that fits. If you don’t start with fit you can’t end with style.

We spend a lot of energy at Style for Hire making sure all our stylists are in sync with our body-centric approach. Style for Hire stylists then can help their clients understand their bodies better, explain their rationale for fashion choices, and enable their clients to shop smarter on their own.

I have a specific issue: I love wearing dresses but I can’t find any that work with my body shape. I’m small on top, with wider hips. Dresses that fit my hips are enormous on the top! HELP!
First, find a great tailor. You always want to choose a garment that fits the largest part of your body first and then tailor down the rest. Almost all clothes off the rack require tailoring. Whether it’s shortening or lengthening hems or sleeves, slimming sleeves, raising straps or taking in waistbands, these tweaks will help ensure proper fit for your unique body.

Then you need to address what we call “top-to-bottom symmetry”: a key styling principle. If you are bigger on the bottom, you’ll want to draw the eye or add volume to the top with a garment that accents the upper body. The most important tool you have to create balance is silhouette – or shape of the garment (in this case – the dress). Remember, you want to use clothing to create the ILLUSION of an hourglass figure!

Try a wrap dress in a jersey fabric. A wrap dress is one of the few universally flattering silhouettes (others: A-Line skirts, fitted jackets and V-neck tops, mid-rise straight trousers).

What is your advice for finding the perfect pair of jeans?
I recommend you try on at least 20 pairs of jeans in order to find one perfect pair that not only makes your butt look great, but can go from work to evening and over to weekend. You want to fit for the largest portion of you lower body, and tailor in from there. The most flattering denim silhouette is the mid-rise, mid-width straight jean. It works for almost all body types. And when you find a pair that works for you, buy more than one pair, hem one for flats, and one for heels, in more than one wash or color!

For more info, check out Style for Hire.

--Ryan Patterson

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