How To

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

You’re wearing a beautiful skirt from Bergdorf’s and an exquisite blouse from Barney’s that you laid out the night before. The frizz of your hair has been blown to a lustrous sheen, and your make-up has been applied to perfection. You briefly notice a handsome man on your television set talking to Katie Couric but there’s no time. You frantically tie the laces of your Nike sneakers, dash out the door and onto the streets of the fashion capital of the world, hoping to make it to work on time. And from head to ankle, you’ve never looked better.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Nothing against Nike, but perhaps you should have stopped to listen to what that handsome man was saying to Katie Couric. He would have given you a bunch of alternatives to the skirt and sneaker look so that from then on, you’d look great from head to…toe!
“Style exists in every part of your life. That is what’s ‘chic’ right now,” says Lloyd Boston, a professional stylist. Today Show Fashion Editor, Style Channel host, and frequent guest on The View, Oprah, and MTV, Lloyd Boston is now a nationally recognized style guru and master of makeovers.

Author of Make Over your Man – The Women’s Guide to Making Over Any Man in Her Life (2002), Men of Color (1998) and now, Before You Put that On – 365 Daily Style Tips for Her (out October 4, 2005 from Simon & Schuster), Lloyd Boston gives his readers the “low-down” on how to “dress-up”!

I had the fantastic opportunity to chat with Lloyd about his new book Before You Put that On and ask him how readers of Beauty News NYC can become their own personal stylists.

Stephanie Silver: You’ve worked with celebrities and fashion experts including Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenberg, Lauren Hutton, Tyra Banks and Bobbi Brown and feature many of them in your books. How can the average New York woman, who can’t afford 50 pairs of Manolo Blahniks, be every bit as stylish as the celebrities you work with (or at least come close)?

Lloyd Boston: Keep it simple and classic. Great jeans, black pencil skirts, nude slingbacks, and vintage bags never go out of style. These are just a few of my favorite essentials for women. Balance thrift and consignment shops with better department stores (both sales and regular prices), as well as outlet shopping. Absorb what is deemed hot for the season, but don’t think of it as gospel if you want to look unique. As my mom once taught me, “style begins where the rules end.”

SS: We’ve all watched every episode of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw seems to be able to pull off just about any look she’s wearing. How can someone take fashion risks like Carrie without coming off looking ridiculous?

LB: That had everything to do with her confidence and “nix-you-if-you-don’t-like-what-I’m-wearing-posture.” We all raised an eyebrow at first, but by the show’s finish, we all believed it because she never backed down. Do your thing and own it with head held high, or else it will look like a mistake – and you are dead on the street.

SS: I buy the same handbag, wear the same sweater and get the same pants tailored to fit as the woman I see on the subway every morning. And yet, I don’t look nearly as good as she does. What am I doing wrong?

LB: Comparing yourself to her. You will never look as good as another woman if you don’t focus on you first. Unless she is your identical twin, you have no need to compare. She may be looking at you with the same thoughts. Focus that energy on your best assets and never look over your shoulder.

SS: I don’t want to spend a fortune on something so trendy I can’t wear it a month after I buy it. What are some of your favorite stores and websites to find great clothes and accessories to supplement a basic wardrobe?

LB: Girlshop (www.girlshop.com), Girl Props (www.girlprops.com), Club Monaco’s amazing markdowns!, J. Crew – preppie gone sexy, and Target – they’ve really stepped up the accessory department.

SS: I mentioned earlier the sneaker and skirt fashion faux pas. But frankly, it’s uncomfortable walking to the subway in heels, and I already carry at least two heavy, cumbersome bags to work every day. Is this an example where style over comfort should prevail? Is there any hope for a compromise?

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LB: Flats are back for fall–from some of the biggest designers from Oscar De La Renta to Luca Luca! Sneaks are fine, but why not any of the amazing ballet flats around today. From ethnic to preppie with a twist of luxe you’ll never limp again and you’ll still feel sexy.

SS: I’m shopping with my friend in SoHo. I peruse the racks and find nothing of interest. My friend proceeds to search the same racks and finds a goldmine. Is style something you are born with or is it possible to learn how to become stylish?

LB: I know 365 ways, but you have to buy the book to start absorbing them. Like Dorothy, you’ve had it all along you just have to tap into it. And like the man of your dreams, he always shows up when you are not looking. The same usually holds true for great style. One tip: shop early for the holiday season. Once it is here, your size will inevitably be ghost.

SS: You have the greatest job. It’s so cool you actually get to show people how to be hip! What would you say is the most satisfying aspect of your career? What was your career path like?

LB: I started by working for designer Tommy Hilfiger for 10 years, from intern to VP. Writing my first book, MEN OF COLOR, on nights and weekends led me to national TV to promote it. I have never left the small screen preaching the style gospel. The best part is going on live to help millions of women all at once – what a rush. And to see them using my tips and looking their personal best is indescribable.

SS: All of my writing teachers say the same thing – “write what you know.” What is your one quintessential bit of advice when telling people how to become their own personal stylist?

LB: I couldn’t have written it better. Hats off to them!

To check out the rest of Lloyd Boston’s style tips reserve your own copy of the fashion bible, Before You Put that On, on http://www.amazon.com or grab one at your nearest bookstore on October 4th. After all, there’s no reason why you should look any less than your best all 365 days a year!

Originally published October 2005
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