Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Style Therapist: Are Hats Indoors Okay?

Dear Style Therapist,
After reading your last blog “messy hair only works for trolls”, I found myself thinking about the many ways I try to mask a bad hair day. One of my go-to’s is the slouchy knit hat—you know, the one you would wear on a cold day. Lately I’ve seen many girls resorting to this trick but it does look quite as flattering.
What is you opinion on wearing a knit hat indoors and as an accessory? Can it be chic or do I just look like a person trying to cover up a bad hair with what my friends describe as a “toilet bowl cleaner”
Bad Hair Day in Queens

Dear BH,

Indoor tam or knit hat wearing isn't a crime in and of itself; but if poorly styled, you could be mistaken for a bag lady. It's also akin to wearing your coat inside. You're apt to get the old cliche suggestion of "Stay a while." I'm going to err on the side of keeping it as a means of keeping your head warm rather than masking unkempt hair. Here are some alternatives for BHD (Bad Hair Days) during all seasons:

1. An updated fedora
2. An updated fedora with a bow
3. A classic Kangol
4. A silk scarf
à la Jackie Kennedy Onassis

And there's always putting in some product and sleeking your hair back for a sharp, low ponytail. You don't always have to cover up.

*Bonus option*

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Whack Friday

I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving.

Somehow our gluttony that's permissible on Thursday translates into rabid consumption the next day. During my day, I remember a frenzy over Cabbage Patch Kids during this time of year. Of course spending helps boost the long as you make that $15 monthly minimum on your credit card; but if a life has to be lost in order to get that flat screen for 20% off, it's not worth it.

During the early morning hours on Black Friday, at a Wal-Mart on Long Island, seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled by a hoard of greedy shoppers who had been pushing against the glass doors of the big box until it finally opened at 5:00 AM. Mr. Damour ended up dying of a heart attack.

I'm not a fan of lines, especially when it comes to buying something. Whether it's the new Comme des Garçons line at H&M, the new iPhone, or the latest Wu-Tang album, I can wait. Despite my impatience, or because of it, I'll avoid these kinds of lines at all costs.

A coworker of the victim was quoted in The Daily News: "I look at these people's faces and I keep thinking one of them could have stepped on him. How could you take a man's life to save $20 on a TV?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Mommy Does Not Have to be Synonymous w/ Hot Mess

Just because you're a New Mommy it does not give you license to be hot mess. I understand the baby is crying and needs to be changed, but this doesn't mean to forget about you for the next 18 years. You can't let yourself go and then blame it on the kid. What happened to accountability? Well, the Style Therapist has the answer. You New Mommies are going through a true kind of madness. You've just evicted a human being from your womb, you're hormones are 10x worse than during puberty, and everyone has forgotten about you and is focusing all of their energies towards the new baby. JT sings about "bringing sexy back", don't let your sexy go anywhere else in the first place!

If you New Mommies follow a few, simple rules, you'll soon be on your way to pointing out the other New Mommies who look haggard and disheveled.

1. Before baby arrives, remove sweats from your property. You spend months and months preparing for the arrival of the little one. How about a little time on yourself? College sweatshirts, baggy sweatpants, oversized tees... get rid of them. Fleece? Absolutely not. Fleece is and sweats are entry level garments into a career of sloppy dressing. They're all bad and a surefire way to looking like you really don't care about yourself. If you think it's hiding your baby weight, think again. It makes you look bulky and bumpy and rolly. If you don't have it, you can't wear it. So lose it!

2. Invest in fitted cardigans (operative word being "fitted") of varying lengths for maximum comfort and polish. Quality knits are comfortable and versatile. Because they're not as structured as wovens, they accommodate weight fluctuations. Invest in pieces you'll continue to wear after you've shed the excess pounds.

3. If hair is the last thing on your mind, have your stylist give you a sharp, low-maintenance cut. If you're not in the mood for scissors, whip out a good hair product that can hold your sleek ponytail in place. No scrunchies. No butterfly clips. No! No! No!

4. Buy dark denim with some stretch. They'll adjust to your weight and hide stains from defective sippy cups.

5. Statement jewelry can dress up any outfit and really make your face glow. It also keeps baby occupied and is handy for teething. Make sure the pieces aren't too small. Babies have a tight grip and can choke on a piece. Also, don't spend too much money on these pieces because baby may break them.

6. Invest in a good, structured blazer. You should have one of these anyway...As with the cardigan, it can polish off jeans and a t-shirt beautifully.

7. Unless you're absolutely flawless, skip this section. For the rest of you, find a quick makeup routine that suits you. Chances are you'll have puffy eyes from the baby waking up over the course of the night. Get a GOOD concealer and foundation. To brighten up eyes and cheeks, get a bronzer or highlighter in a stick form for quick application. Always always always wear mascara. If nothing else, please abide by this rule. And don't forget a tinted lipgloss for easy swiping and added color. And here's a stern warning for those of you who like to live on the edge: Under no circumstances is it ever ok to apply making while driving. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but also your child and other people on the road. DO THIS AT HOME!

8. A weekly manicure would be nice. It would be Heaven! If babysitters are scarce and the other mommies are ignoring you because they heard you talking trash about them to another mommy at play group, don't just let your tallons grow like claws or walk about with chipped nails. Skip the polish and keep the nails filed and cuticles well moisturized.

9. Shoes are incredibly important. The urge is to get those sneaker slides. Well, murder that urge! I'm trying to get Congress to pass a bill to ban those atrocities. In the meantime, seek other alternatives. There are marvelous flats out there of every persuasion. If you insist on sneakers, keep them sleek and avoid the bulk.

10. Donate, I repeat, DONATE your maternity clothes to a women's shelter or the Salvation Army or Housing Works. Someone else needs these clothes now. How is your child applying to college and you're still wearing the expanding pants from when you were pregnant with him?

Some of you are still out there complaining that you don't have time. When you can't set aside 5 minutes for yourself, you don't have 100% of you to give to your child. And some of you say, "Style Therapist, you don't have any kids. You don't know what you're talking about." There are orthopedic surgeons who have never had bunions. There are ambulance chasing lawyers who have never been in a car accident. Just trust me on this one. Your child will respect you for taking care of yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Service:

Not everyone is able to afford a Closet Detox or Wardrobe Renovation. And with the current state of affairs, people who were able to before, aren't necessarily able to now. But is that going to stop me from spreading the Style Therapy doctrine? Negative.

I've devised a democratic program that will hopefully reach the masses. For a small fee of $1.99 (paid through Paypal first), anyone can write to me directly with a style conundrum and get professional advice.

Some time ago, a friend of mine purchased a pair of Mary Poppins boots on sale. There's nothing wrong with Mary Poppins boots if your mode of transportation is an open umbrella. There was such a pronounced disconnect between my friend and the shoes, that she never wore them. They didn't suit her personality, nor her style. They went with absolutely nothing in her closet and took up space under her desk at work for months. She tried to pawn them off on on eBay to someone else many times. It took a while, but someone eventually relieved her of the boot burden. As you all know, I'm not a fan of holding onto anything you don't wear. She sold the brand new, designer boots for a lot less than she paid; but it was better than them sitting in her closet unused. She said she would have rather spent $1.99 to get my objective advice than be out of several hundred dollars.

For less than the price of your daily coffee, you're able to get unbiased feedback from a trained professional. Not sure what to wear on a job interview? Meeting the in-laws for the first time? Blind date? Or do you have something in your closet that you never wear and are clueless as to why. Make your coffee at home and send me your concerns, because my office is officially open to the public! Please see the steps below:

1. Log on to your Paypal account, click on the "Send money" tab and type "" in the "To" box, and "1.99" in the "Amount" box. Remember, one fee per image/query. If you have more than one image/query, please issue the correct amount (2 @ 3.98, 3 @ 5.97, or the special offer package: 10 for $15)

2. Send an e-mail to with any style issue you have. Although an accompanying image is preferred, it's not required. I'll e-mail a response with detailed suggestions and thorough advice.

3. Due to a high volume of queries, responses may take up to 12 hours. If I think your problem is a common one and our e-mail exchange is able to benefit more people, I'll ask your permission to post our conversation on this blog with or without your image(s). If you want the exchange to remain private, no worries.

***If you've got exceptional style, you'll be in the running for Style Therapy Hero of the Week. Of course I'll ask for your permission before posting your image.***

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Messy Hair Only Works for Trolls

There's something going on with hair today and it isn't right. People have been walking around, looking like true hot messes with their hair unkempt. It's morally wrong to have an Afghan Hound walking around looking better than you.

There's a young lady in several of my classes whose hair is never, ever combed. If the problem only existed in the morning, I'd assume that she had been rushing and forgot to run a brush through her hair. And if the problem were strictly PM, it would have meant the possibility of a long and stressful day. But she always seems frazzled, with her hair pasted to her forehead and cheeks. I'm not sure what to make of all of this. Often, she'll run her hand from the front to back; sometimes creating a pompadour. Other times, she'll sweep her hair from one side to the next, resulting in a mock comb-over. My suggestions to her are few, and easy to accomplish:

1. Take a big dollop of any Gatsby product, run it through wet hair, and create a chignon. It's sleek, sophisticated and she never has to worry about looking sweaty.

2. Take it all off for a low-maintenance GI Jane look. Sure it'll encourage stares, but that's from jealous women who spend their weekends under the hairdryer for hours over the weekend.

3. Invest in a good, quality wig or lace front weave. Don't forget to get the one with baby hairs! Makes for a more realistic look. Unlike her natural hair, she doesn't have to worry about the matted look she's prone to.

Now hold on a minute, you gents are not off the hook. Yesterday, on the R train (shocked that it wasn't the L?), I saw a young grizzly bear. At least I think it was a young grizzly bear. He was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, speaking to a young man and staring at people. But when your chest hair connects to your neck hair connects to your facial hair connects to your head of hair: that makes you a grizzly bear!

I blame Boho Chic for my classmate's current state. Just because MK does it, that doesn't make it ok for the rest of us. And as for the young man, I really do believe he was a grizzly bear. I can't attribute his condition to anything other than being a grizzly bear.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heroine Chic

The other day, I ran into a friend on the train...the same train as that dreadful PAO who applied her concealer in front of the world. We were both on our way to a Decorative Arts class that's a part of our graduate program in Visual Culture. She had on a gorgeous Issey Miyake cocoon coat, which she wore often, that was purchased in her hometown of Montreal. The color is the deepest, most beautiful navy. And the pleats, oh the beautiful pleats! That being said, it was a pretty cold day and I wondered how she was able to stay warm with such a thin layer. Her style is impeccable and she takes big risks with prints and colors. So for her to suffer for fashion wouldn't be unheard of; but, on the other hand, she was highly intelligent and pragmatic about matters, too.

When we got to the unbearably hot classroom, we both removed out coats and placed them on the backs of our chairs. I had to get up to do something, but when I returned to my seat, I noticed that there had been a black, fleece jacket underneath the Issey Miyake the entire time. The best part about it was that it was from Old Navy. My classmate was a Style Therapy Hero (STH) in that she mixed high and low...even if the low was concealed. I'm sure there are instances when the Old Navy jacket reveals itself, and since she's an STH, she's a pro at properly rocking it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stop GAWSH Now!!

Admittedly, I'm one of the most ornery people on the planet. The littlest things drive me insane. McDonald's Duo and Pizza Fiend. And don't forget all of the PAOs. There's no time like the present to add yet another egregious act: Grown A** Women Stroking Hair (GAWSH). I've only begun to notice this in 2008 as an epidemic.

I remember back in junior high, a girl and I were on the outs with a mutual friend. So as females do, and continue to do well into adulthood, we started talking about the other girl behind her back. The girl, who I'll refer to as Amy, told me that our mutual friend, who I'll call Twirl-a-Girl, spent the night at her house over the weekend. They had a minor disagreement over nothing at all. However, it had upset Twirl-a-Girl so much that she sat up the entire night twirling her hair. Now this was back in 1990, when perms were rampant. The year before, in grade 6, Twirl-a-Girl had gotten a perm. A year later she had failed to get a retouch and the roots were growing in. But due to her nervous habit, Twirl-a-Girl had ingeniously maintained her curls!

In any case, I'm sure today her hair twirling and stroking continues on. But she's always done that, so I can't be mad at her. However, this new batch is out of control. Whether they're walking down the street, on the train reading a book, or speaking to another person, there they are with the most vacant expressions on their faces, stroking, stroking, stroking. Hair twirling can be flirtatious, and even achieve results (like Twirl-a-Girl's perm maintenance). But hair stroking?

What bothers me the most is how stupid, vapid, insipid (and other words ending in "id" that I can't think of right now) these women look. They're not gaining anything out of the stroking. Often, the hair ends up looking ratty and ravaged. Why not (like a proper lady), find a powder room and run a comb or brush through it quickly. The great Marsha Brady brushed her hair 100 times. That's dedication. Hair stroking on the subway can be viewed as public grooming, and for that, it's officially a Style Therapy no no.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Driving the Point Home

It's no secret that public application of makeup is a big Style Therapy no-no. Of course, the quick swipe of lip gloss or Chapstick is permissible. I thought the woman with the eyelash curler on the subway platform was bad, but today was by far the most egregious account to date. Naturally, I was on the L train. This is the same train where I tried to escape the McDonald's Duo only to be met by the Pizza Fiend. I was peering out of my periphery, trying desperately not to look directly at today's offender, because I knew I'd be grossed out.

This woman had the unmitigated audacity to whip out her concealer and start dabbing the bags underneath her eyes. Once again, I was incredulous. I thought I'd seen it all with the eyelash curler, but the lady today really took it to the next level. Typically, Public Application Offenders (PAO) wipe on some foundation, blush, MAYBE eyeshadow, and finally, lipstick. Never, in my life, have I seen CONCEALER applied. The whole point of it is to look like you don't have bags under your eyes. It's akin to doing your comb-over or stuffing your bra in public. The illusion is gone.

But the concealer wasn't the only thing. You know that trick that some women do with the highlighter in the corner of the eyes? It's supposed to make your eyes look brighter. However, it just looks like you put highlighter there to make your eyes look brighter; like there's random white stuff in the corners. It's something best left to the professionals. But, there she went. She did yet another trick that's supposed to be a secret in public. We know that mascara is not a secret. Neither is lipstick. But concealer and eye highlighter are supposed to be kept under wraps.

Several hours later, I'm still confused as to what kind of person would do that. Isn't there a better way to get attention? Breakdancing or singing doowop on a moving train are far better ways to get attention...more respectable, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Call of Duty

If a cop sees a crime taking place, it is his obligation to intervene. If a doctor is playing golf and notices someone struck down by lightning, it is her duty to get involved. Since members of law enforcement and the medical community are expected to use their expertise to diffuse situations, does the same rule apply to the Style Therapist?

I have a professor who habitually wears lipstick on her teeth. Not a subtle, bubblegum pink shade. I'm referring to the heavy duty, Gothic dark maroon kind. We tell friends when they have an exposed booger. If we see a person with TP on their shoes, we alert them, too. And don't forget the proverbial spinach stuck in the teeth during a blind date. Who eats spinach on a date anyway?

But in the teacher/student relationship it may not be the best road to take. It's not even the lipstick on her teeth that concerns me the most. It's the fact that each week the smeared color gets progressively more noticeable; to the point where her entire top row is that Satan's red color. My concern is that I think she's doing it intentionally as if it were a part of her personality: the zany lady with the messy mouth. We all know at least one relative of Mme. Messy Mouth. Whether it be the young bohemian with the ratty hair that hasn't been cut in months and washed in weeks or the young man who insists on smelly skinny jeans with holes and stains to show how above appearances he is. He's a true thinker you know.

I suppose that I've answered my own question. After all, there's solicited Style Therapy and then there's meddling. No one loves a meddling mother-in-law, but that's to be expected. A meddling Style Therapist has the capacity to really overstep bounds. While I've made my decision to butt out, I'd like to hear your feedback.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What to Buy on the Cusp of a Recession: Ladies

If you're not feeling the pinch yet, hopefully you'll be spared. For those of us who do have to cut back, it's time to get savvy regarding what we purchase. If you live here in New York, or any other metropolitan city, chances are that wearing the same thing everyday isn't an option. We want to look sophisticated and chic; never dated. So wardrobe replenishment is of the essence. I'm not advocating foregoing your utility bill in order to snag that Lanvin Pollison bag at Barney's for $2565. That would be utter madness. You'd have to see a professional to get over that problem. But there are elements that freshen up even the most fatigued of closets.

As it's now autumn, the time has come to consider pieces that can take you well into the spring. *All of these items were available during the time of publishing:

1. Coat-The line of a coat is imperative. People can see you coming from a mile away; and you don't want to look like a lumpy hot mess. Remember the Style Therapy adage: neatness counts. The less bulk, the better. Find outerwear that can work overtime. You can wear it to work, a lovely dinner afterwards, and (because it's not too precious), running errands on the weekend. Here are two options at different price points: Hopefully you have a nice amount of savings and Skip drinks with friends this Thursday

2. Boots-Even if you're accustomed to taking cabs, being in New York can entail a great deal of walking. Shoes must be comfortable. I don't cosign on the suffering for fashion philosophy. I find that line of thinking to be laced with claptrap and twaddle. There's no sense in limping around in beautiful shoes; especially when they are capable of creating bunions and corns. Here are two options at different price points: and All of the bills are paid up (including student loans) and Skip lunch with your work buddy for a couple of weeks. You don't like her anyway, you just feel like a loser eating alone.

3. Sweater Coat - This is a marvelous item to include in your wardrobe because it is a key piece for wardrobe efficiency. It can be worn as outerwear during early autumn or, when belted, can double as a dress. The sweater coat is also a great piece for layering when the operations people at your job can't make up their minds regarding the thermostat. Here are two options at different price points: You're independently wealthy and You have to borrow a little cash from your work buddy who you don't really like, but you'll pay her back during neck pay cycle

4. Statement Jewelry - Nothing resuscitates a top better than a striking necklace. Remember to keep scale in mind; you don't want to walk around looking like a pin-head. But if you've got a head on the larger size, you don't want the chain to get lost in the midst of your massive dome either. Proportion. Proportion. Proportion. Here are two options at different price points: No one gets any presents this holiday season (or next), you're cutting off the cable indefinitely, you've got a big bonus coming up and you can do without a cellphone and You're canceling your subscription to The Economist and eating ramen for a while

5. Blazer - My favorite thing in the whole world. I plan on being buried, or cremated rather, while wearing one. They're slimming and polish off anything you happen to have one. Watch out for where the bottom of the blazer falls. A cropped jacket can magnify the hippier among us. And for our boy shaped friends, a line that's straight up and down can does nothing for the figure. Here are two options at different price points: Robbing banks isn't so bad if you don't get caught and If you wake up late for a week, you can skip that daily breakfast at Pastis

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Best Dressed Video: Part I

My Feet Keep Dancing - Chic - Some of you are too young to remember words like panache and pizzazz. I pretend to be old enough to remember such words. Forget about consulting Webster's for definitions. This group personifies positive "P" words like no other. There's absolutely nothing better than a bass player in a bespoke suit! RIP Bernard Edwards.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

You Learn Something New Everyday

I always assumed Mr. T was born with those gold chains attached to his neck. But with a bit of research (read: a quick stop by Wikipedia), I came out with a new found respect for the man who brilliantly portrayed Rocky III nemesis, Clubber Lang and tough guy B.A. Baracus on The A Team.

Back in the 1970s, the man we would come to know as Mr. T (né Laurence Tureaud) was a bouncer in his hometown of Chicago. If a bar patron lost a piece of jewelry due to carelessness or as the result of a fight, he would simply wear the chain around his neck until the owner came back to reclaim it. Usually, the customers failed to return; thus creating the world renowned gold chain heap we know today.

One day, while reading an issue of National Geographic, Mr. T stumbled across an image of Mandinka warriors. He was taken by their hairstyle and appropriated the look for himself. As his jewelry collection soared to a value of $300,000, this was a safer, less labor-intensive alternative—Mr. T had spent hours were spent placing the chains around his neck. He would also sleep in the bulky chains to get a sense of what it must have been like for ancestors who were slaves. However, after seeing the devestating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he decided to forego his trademark jewelry.

Mr. T remains an indelible icon of the 80s. With his uniform of fatigued pants and denim jackets with sawed off sleeves, he was aware of his image and took a proactive role in creating it. Dirk Benedict, as Face, may have been the hotty of the show, it was Mr. T who left the biggest mark.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Style Therapy Book of Diseases and Disorders: Part I

While I'm not currently negotiating a deal with Oxford or Merriam-Webster to get this published, I do see it as a possibility in the future. Below is a list of very serious conditions and disorders that plague our community. If you, or someone you know, is afflicted with any of the following, please book an appointment with me at stat!

Accumulosis-The uncontrollable collecting of clothing, shoes and accessories. Leads to a superfluous amount of rubbish. See Collyer Brothers.

Acrylicnailsaphilia-Obsession with fake nails and the application of garish artwork.

Baggyslobberitis-The chronic wearing of ill-fitting, obscenely large apparel. Adds excess weight.

Bargain Bin Disorder -Addiction to items below a specific price point-usually $15. Subject often takes price into consideration above all other factors. See labelwhoritis for polar opposite.

Cleavage Explosuresis-Untreatable condition of failing to wear the proper size top for one's bosom. Leads to frequent flesh spillage and extended stares.

Chappedlipemia-Chronic dry lips. Leads to incessant lip licking and application of Carmex.

Colognism-Excess wearing of extremely strong (and cheap smelling) scent. Can be overbearing and offensive to olfactory nerves.

Fredmertzmania-Uncontrollable desire to wear denim at an unnaturally high waist.

Hateration-Phenomenon consisting of intense jealousy towards someone with what is perceived to be a better bag, dog, personal style, car, house or other material possession.

Muffintopitis-Condition that entails spilling of excess flesh over waistband.

Labelwhoritis-Addiction to high-end labels above a specific price point. Often subject considers name on label before fit, style, appropriateness; etc. Frequently corresponds to an impaired ego.

Permitis-Prolonged perming of the hair. Usually leading to perpetual style from the 1980s.

Qualiphobia-Strong aversion towards apparel of any real quality. Item often made from cheap material. May correspond to a lack of self-worth. Object may also suffer from Bargain Bin Disorder.

Retouchysis-Allowing retouches for relaxers, colorings or cuts to lapse for an extended period of time, leaving hair in a ragged, unkempt state.

Sausagitis-The chronic wearing of ill-fitting, obscenely tight apparel. Has the potential for cutting off circulation. See Baggyslobberitis.

Shopophoria-Elated state of being after the purchase of a completely useless item.

Weavemia-Habitual wearing of fake hair without ever allowing natural hair to breathe; leaving a lot of roaming tail-less horses.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Little Piggy Went to Market, This Little Piggy is...Fake!

When I was in secondary school, I used to ride the bus with a grade-schooler named Jennifer. No, it wasn't the special "short" bus with the tinted windows. I attended a private school that had grades Pre-K through 12. In any case, Jennifer's people, be they her mother or older sisters, always made sure she was finely turned out. While kids in the upper grades had to wear truly appalling polyester numbers, the elementary girls had a navy jumper made out of natural fibers. Jennifer never had a hair out of place and her saddle oxfords were always well-buffed and shined.

One afternoon, during the ride home, she volunteered that she had prosthetic toes on her right foot. Of course no one believed her. She didn't look like she had fake toes...whatever that meant. Once she realized our incredulity, she propped her leg up on the bus seat and removed her saddle oxfords, then her socks...then whipped off her toes. Everyone's mouth had enough room for a swarm of flies to swoop right in. Jennifer was quite matter-of-fact about the whole matter; she'd spent her entire life with her fake toes. She said there'd been some freak accident during her delivery or it was a birth defect. I can't remember, as it's been 15 years.

The thing that impressed me the most about Jennifer (and her people) is that the prosthetic toes were painted in a beautiful ruby red enamel. Her fake toes were perfect. Of course they were. They don't manufacture faux toes with bunions and corns. She and her people understood the importance of a polished appearance, regardless of her circumstances. To put it in the punniest of terms: Jennifer put her best foot forward.

This was also the case when I interviewed for my first job out of university. It was at a prestigious publishing house and I wanted it desperately. The human resources manager who interviewed me was a lovely Blonde woman with a quiet disposition. As I recall, she had a Veronica Lake curve to her hair. When I looked down at her fingers, I noticed that all 10 weren't there. I tried not to appear obvious about it, but often inconspicuousness only leads to the opposite.

She, too, subscribed to Jennifer's school of thought. Some fingers had barely a nail. I'm talking the most modicum of matter; a scrap of a nail! But if she had a nail, there was polish. Again, that lovely ruby red color. Jennifer and the HR manager didn't opt for subtle French colors or shiny clear. Their nails made a statement.

While not everyone may be a fan of Ms. Heather Mills, it must be noted that she doesn't permit her lack of a leg to stop her either. She bops around in opened-toe pumps and sandals, proudly, in ruby red nail enamel.

My message is that there's never an excuse not to present one's best self. People with no appendages are walking around looking sharp. There's no reason why the rest of us should parade around in sloppy university sweatshirts and sneaker slides. In this new era of change, let's upgrade our personal style, too.

Jennifer should be around 25 now. There's no doubt that she's stepping out in her Loubous, leaving common girls (with all 10 of their real toes) in her dust.

There's Nothing Worse Than...

being trapped in a stuffy L train car with a greasy bag of McDonald's. Last night it had been raining, so the poor olfactory nerves were working overtime. Mickey D's on the train is bad enough when there are no other odors to contend with. But combine wet hair and damp clothes with the scent of slick and slimy fries, and it's intolerable.

When the offending subjects started whipping out fries to share, I bolted out of my seat and headed over to the back of the train. My troubles only increased. A young man had a medium sized pie from Pizza Hut and proceeded to shove a limp slice down his mouth.

Dining on the train is just plain gross. I've popped a couple of Fruit Snacks here and there in my day; but Fruit Snacks don't smell or leave stains. Eating cooked food on the train is akin to public grooming. It's no better than cutting nails and mascara application. No one should be subjected to such crude behavior. Just as the gentleman who clips his toenails into the atmosphere risks injuring someone with the remnants of his sharp talons, the fry eaters of the world are ruining freshly laundered clothes. I had just gotten my wool coat back from the cleaners.

Fry eaters, nail clippers, and make up applicators, if you're reading, I have a message for you:

You are NOT at home! Clean up your vulgar manners at once! However, The Style Therapist has a good heart and is willing to offer a discount on my services if you promise to change your ghastly ways!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Place Your Vote!

For the best dressed first lady that is. Each First Lady has maintained a distinct role in her husband's administration; whether the public was aware or not. But ultimately the President's wife is also the First Lady of the World. And we cannot have a hot mess representing our country. Vote for your favorite presidential sartorialist. Lady Bird Johnson (and hopefully Michelle Obama) gets my vote. The Stanton + Williams Style Therapy Polls close at 11:59 PM (EST), but I invite you to leave comments afterwards.

Monday, November 3, 2008

High/Low: Style Therapy Hero #1

As I've stated many times, both on this blog and to many of my clients, it's not always about the label. A defining characteristic of a true stylemaster is the ability to mix high and low items effortlessly. My favorite Style Therapy hero does just that; I'll refer to her as Clara Wang.

I remember Clara when she was a student at Parsons and I was Tim Gunn's assistant. Years ago, during my undergrad years at university, most students had a default outfit for class. Boys and girls alike wore flared jeans and oversized sweatshirts. For bar night, they'd keep the jeans and trade-up to a tight shirt and platform boots (boys and girls alike here, too). They were essentially mixing low and lower. At Parsons, the design students did not mess around. Even though they were doing labor intensive work around the clock, for the most part, they understood the importance of looking sharp. I think they were inadvertently motivating one another not to be slobs. They remain the best turned-out people I've ever worked with.

Yet, Clara Wang always stood out. I can't overestimate the importance of the word POLISHED. I'm not referring to the overdone, talking-head anchor look. Being polished is more organic and personal. The hair is neat, without being stiff. Makeup is applied with a steady hand, not caked on. Clothing is pressed, clean and tailored. There are just the right amount of accessories, and it never jingles and jangles when walking. It's a modern elegance.

Clara Wang was special because she made this ladylike aesthetic her own. When other people her age were slumming it in heavily whiskered jeans and tattoo t-shirts, she exeduded quiet elegance. But that's not why CW is a Style Therapy Hero. Once, when she was an intern in the design department of the contemporary label we both worked for, I commented on a blouse she was wearing. It was an off-white silk number with interesting pleating at the neckline. I assumed it was Doo Ri or Philip Lim. When she told me she had picked it up at the thrift store for $7, I was floored. She used her design background to tailor the sleeves a bit, but the integrity of the shirt was in tact.

Another time, we'd met up with some other Parsons/contemporary clothing brand friends for brunch. Naturally, Clara was styled beautifully. She wore what I believed to have been the Yves Saint Laurent Tribute sandals. I was left astounded, once again, when she revealed that they'd been picked up from Bakers, which is kind of like Kinney.

Clara Wang has that uncanny ability to style herself through instinct. I believe that's something one is either born with or picks up from a very early age. Sure, she owns beautiful pieces by PRADA, Saint Laurent, the aforementioned Doo Ri, and other higher end designers. But to wear head-to-toe designer intentionally can wreak of fashion victimhood. There's a level of insecurity if one relies on the runways to dictate their every move and poo poos anything they deem beneath them. In fact, there's a word for that in the Style Therapy Book of Diseases: Labelwhoritis. You may know someone who has it, or suffer from it yourself. I had a brief, but acute, case of it back in the summer of 2002.

I applaud Clara for her bold take on fashion. She knows what she likes. She knows what works on her. And she's not afraid to integrate a Chanel bag with a secondhand shirt. This is true, original style. She never has to worry about looking dated, unlike the desperate fashion victims who wouldn't be caught dead at a Kinney or a Zara. And there's nothing wrong with insisting on good, quality pieces. But to insist on a name is another thing entirely. I, for one, proudly position my YSL pumps next to my Aldo boots in my closet. There's never any shame in a good high and low Style Therapy game.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

7 Deadly Style Therapy Sins: Women's Shoes

Ladies, ladies, ladies. Too often we hold onto shoes we don't even like. Here are some tips on what to get rid of.

1. Sneaker slides: This is pure and utter laziness. This started when people needed to run out and heat the car up, then run back inside. Or maybe let the dog out to do her business. Understandably, no one wants to take the time to tie their sneakers for brief, mundane tasks. However, it evolved into a legitimate style that has some real staying power.

2. Platform flip flops: These are a tragic accident waiting to happen. These shoes are a tragic accident in and of themselves. The appeal of the added height makes sense, but there are other ways of achieving that: lifts, stilettos, or socializing with shorter people.

3. Church(or temple) loafers: These are akin to Dad shoes, except most moms know better than this. Vice principals fancy these because the height gives them authority, yet it's comfortable to walk around in all day since only God knows where the actual Principal is. Leave these to overworked administrators. They get a hall pass on this one.

4. Clear heels: These shoes were made for one kind of woman. Chris Rock knows that. I know that. And you know that. Any woman, who's job doesn't entail a slippery pole, should not be wearing these unless she insists upon being confused with the aforementioned woman.

5. Sneaker pumps: It's one or the other. Can't have them both. I'm not not sure if these are for that jogger who's got to run straight to work with no time to change in between. Or maybe it's for the long distance runner who wants a professional look. Either way, this look ran out of steam a long time ago.

6. Maryjanes: These are more perverse and vulgar than the clear heels. At least the latter are out in the open. There's nothing subtle about those. Now, what grown woman would insist on dressing like an overgrown child? And only a pervert would be attracted to the woman wearing these dreadful things.

7. Platform slides: Another item from my university days that seems to have a non-existent expiration date. That could be the only explanation for how these shoes, which would look far better on Herman Munster, have lasted this long. These shoes refuse to go away.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

7 Deadly Style Therapy Sins: Men's Shoes

Men, men, men. The following shoes should never be a part of most men's wardrobes. If you insist on playing the iconoclast, operate these shoes with great caution.

1. Church (or temple) loafers: Your first introduction to these shoes came in Junior High when you had to join the Boys' Chorus for an art credit. The time has come to bid them adieu. You're a sophisticated man now, and your shoes should reflect that.

2. Rugged boots: I was recently watching an old episode of 90210 from the third season. Everyone seems to be wearing similar boots made for tough terrain. But if you're not doing hard labor, walking in ice/snow, or climbing a mountain, these seem slightly specious.

3. Gangsta Lean Shoes: The original man these shoes were made for was quite the peacock in his day. However, his day was well over 30 years ago and he thought he could give Billy Dee Williams a run for his money. Now he walks with a cane, and not for affect like he did back in the day. Now he needs it for his hip replacement.

4. Cowboy boots: In a similar vein to the outdoor boots, these seem inauthentic if you're not herding cattle, riding in a rodeo, boot scootin' boogyin, or blazing your way up the Billboard Country charts.

5. Cha chas: During my senior year at university, I took a ballroom dance class for my PE credit. Our professor was a lovely man from Cuba who commanded the dance floor. He had tiny feet and he wore traditional ballroom dance shoes with a heel. If you're a professional or like to dabble in weekly class, owning these aren't up for discussion. However, if these are your work shoes that you wear to your regular 9:00-5:00, you have some 'splaining to do.

6. Platform boots: For some foolish reason I was under the impression that these were a dying fad. At the turn of this century, they disappeared for a minute; but they've come back full force with a vengeance. Unless you're of the deep, dark sacrificing variety (or you just want to appear that you are), leave these alone. For my friends who are vertically challenged, no one knows you're wearing lifts until you remove them.

7. Dad shoes: These are strictly for those born before 1960 who have at least one child. For this man, these shoes are traditional and agreeable. He's not hurting anyone. If you're young enough to have a father that fits this criteria and these are in your closet, please make an appointment with me (

8. *BONUS* College dude shoes: The guy who wears these also thinks wearing an Abercrombie shirt untucked with wrinkle khakis and a sweater vest is dressing up. Leave these at the frat house...where they belong.