The CultureMap Interview
After 10 years of helping women organize their closets, Kim Dawson Agency model and Fashionomics founder Debby Jett Allbright now offers her wardrobe expertise to men. She sharpened her skills on her own family; with two sons and a hubby, she's more than accustomed to advising males.
With hot summer sales filling our closets, we decided it was time to sit down with the stylish Dallas resident to get some tips.
CultureMap: How often should you edit your closet?
Debby Jett Allbright: Editing your closet is an ongoing process. I like to edit as I transfer from one season to the next. I can evaluate what I have worn, what I haven't worn and why. If I let go gradually, it is less painful. A new season allows me to edit with the hopes of buying something new that I will definitely wear. Also, donating to Genesis Women’s Shelter or the Family Place is a great feeling.
"Standing in your closet trying to decide what to wear is a waste of time!" Allbright says.
CM: Do you believe in planning outfits, say, the night before?
DJA: Planning ahead is always a great idea. Standing in your closet trying to decide what to wear is a waste of time! Think about what you are doing the next day, make a plan for your wardrobe and move on. Spending extra time on something worthwhile and planning ahead will help you feel pulled together and fabulous all day.
CM: How has working in the industry shaped your perspective on styling women who aren't a size 0?
DJA: All of my clients are beautiful, brilliant and talented women. They are strong, kind, funny and a joy to work with. I want all of them to feel confident every day. I try to find the pieces that work best for each individual body type. It is sometimes trial and error, and I try to get them out of their comfort zone a little bit so they will see themselves differently. One thing is key: fit and proportion!
CM: Staples for men and women of all shapes and sizes?
DJA: Fit and proportion are key for all body types: short, tall, petite or curvy. Wearing clothes that are too large or too tight are just not flattering. Wearing darker colors will give the illusion of a slimmer physique.
- Petite women: Shorter fitted jackets with a skirt that hits at, or just above, the knee. Nothing too overwhelming. Wearing heels gives you the appearance of height. Platforms are more comfortable, but the single-sole shoe or lady-like pump is in.
- Shorter men: A well-fitting suit in a solid color gives you a streamlined look. Tonal dressing makes you look taller because there are no lines to cut you in half. Vertical stripes in your shirts help elongate your torso.
- Curvy women: Dresses are great. Try either a structured dress made from a fabric with some body to it or a short-waist dress with a full skirt. Show off your waist and hide those hips. Keep the length at or just above the knee. Solid and darker colors are your friend. Stay away from horizontal stripes or bold patterns.
- Larger men: Do not wear your jackets too large! Spend the money on a good tailor, which will make you feel and look better. Flat-front pants (as opposed to pleated) are more flattering, and darker colors are slimming. Also, stay away from white T-shirts.
CM: What's the best way to store off-season clothing?
DJA: If you have room, store off-season clothing in another closet or chest of drawers. You can always use under-the-bed boxes. If you have to keep everything in the same closet, move the off-season to the back and store in bags.
I like to use hanging cedar blocks or lavender herbal packs to deter moths. Sweaters can be stored in extra drawers, sweater bags or sweater boxes. These can be put on the very top shelf in your closet so that they are out of the way.
CM: What's the best way to mix and match clothing?
DJA: I believe the best way is carefully, with professional help from Fashionomics. "Mix and match" means taking a few basic pieces and getting more mileage and looks out of them. Let’s say you have a three-piece black suit: jacket, pant and skirt. (I call this divorcing your suits.) Hang the jacket with jackets, the pants with pants, and skirt with skirts. You will begin to see them as separates instead of a suit that you have to wear together.
Take the black jacket, add a cute T-shirt and wear it with jeans. Take the black pant, add a striped shirt and cardigan for a different type [of] suit. Add a patterned jacket into the mix, and you have more outfits. Flats, heels, scarves, sweaters and patterns can [also] add mileage to a few pieces.
CM: Summer must-haves?
DJA: White! You can never have too many fabulous white shirts. I also love skinny jeans with great tunics, wedges that give you height and the chicness in a cropped pant. Summer is a great time to experiment with fabulous dresses in vibrant colors and patterns. (Now on sale!) Colors like orange and coral are very flattering and fun. Fun jewelry — earrings, necklaces and bracelets — pile it on!
CM: Favorite stores for the shopper on a budget? No budget?
DJA: On a budget: Gap, Banana Republic, Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off 5th, Joseph A. Banks, Bloomingdales Outlet, TJ Maxx and Target. No budget: Stanley Korshak (my favorite), Neiman Marcus, Forty Five Ten and Elements.