Dressing for Success this Spring
SMPS Boston spoke with two local experts on fashion and style. Anthony Conti worked at Louis Boston for nearly 18 years before becoming an agent for Sprogis & Neale Real Estate in his home neighborhood, the South End. Tatiana Zimkus helps stylish women become more so in the Women’s Designer Ready-to-Wear area of Barneys New York at Boston’s Copley Place. The two offer well-seasoned advice for professional women and men aiming to look their best as winter melts happily into spring.
Zimkus reminds us of the immortal words of Coco Chanel, “Fashion changes, but style endures.” The goal of a professional person should never be to buy ever more pieces that risk sitting in a closet, but rather to plumb inward for one’s true style.
Yet many of us will brave the malls in coming weeks to seek out at a fresh update for our spring wardrobe. Both Conti and Zimkus set shoppers straight about spring clothes, beginning with basic materials. Conti suggests investing in a few pieces of clothing that are spring weight, such as lightweight wools and heavier cottons. He is a firm believer that one should have clothing for each of the four seasons, including outerwear. (“No shorts in the winter in New England even if the weather hits 70 degrees,” he admonishes.) Zimkus counters this with a multi-season approach, arguing that lightweight knits such as cashmere-silk blends and merino wool along with tropical-weight wool suiting are year round necessities for a New Englander’s professional wardrobe as these fabrics provide warmth when layered and can still be cool enough for an air-conditioned office. Zimkus is also a fan of layers: cardigans, knit vests, and jackets that can be worn over short-sleeved shirts, tunic-length sweaters or tops, et cetera, and peeled away as the world outside thaws.
Zimkus believes that investing in one high-quality, well-tailored, and timeless suit is a practical necessity. It is versatile approach because each piece can be worn individually with other less-expensive, trendier pieces. She also emphasizes fit without mincing words: “If your clothing is two sizes too big or too small, you will look like a bum or a sausage.”
Conti believes in hands-on research when it comes to fashion and trends. He advocates reading magazines, browsing high-end stores, and trying on clothes. When it’s time to invest, his pointers include the all-important fit as noted above; also to make sure the pieces are current and most importantly, age-appropriate. If money is an object, he reminds shoppers to buy fewer but better quality pieces. “If you are on a strict budget (and have done your homework correctly), buy pieces that can mix with many different items in your wardrobe.”
Zimkus finds inspiration in fashion and costume history. Her reading list includes Simon Doonan’s Eccentric Glamour and Derek Blasberg’s Classy, for a humorous approach to style and etiquette coaching. For scholarly takes, she recommends fashion curator Valerie Steele’s books such as Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now; Women of Fashion; Daphne Guiness.
From a purely practical angle, when aiming to get out of the house quickly and immaculately, Conti and Zimkus offered a few gems:
- Set aside your outfit the night before. Check the weather and choose footwear accordingly. You might even set out one accessory that pulls the look together.
- Organize your closet. When you have some free time you should put outfits together and if you want to go even further, you can take a picture of the outfit and keep a book.
- Get a full-length mirror and be sure to check yourself out before you leave the house!
Bostonians are conservative dressers. Conti and Zimkus point to the influence of financial companies and universities for which the city is known, as well as the limiting factor of weather. They hold out hope for increased awareness about fashion/design and the influence of international people who live in Boston. As Conti says, “I can safely say that there are some Bostonians who dress superbly.” Perhaps those who improve their own overall look are in fact performing a public service for our fair city.
Tatiana Zimkus offers closet-editing services as a side line to her professional occupation. She enjoys coaching in the sense of helping someone find a style of dress that will best suit their personality, body-type, and lifestyle. Contact Ms. Zimkus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr.Conti’s professional focus has changed to selling high end real estate.