Whether you’re a fashionista who’s always dressed to the nines or a schlub who doesn’t care whether your flip-flops match your sweatpants, there’s one thing we all have in common.
We all have to get dressed in the morning. And style coaches Maytal Oziel and Shayna Lampert say the way you put yourself together matters.
Oziel insists that the effort you put into your look tells the world how you feel about yourself.
Dressing well “shows people that you respect who you are and it gives off an impression. You don’t want to go on a job interview looking all dishevelled, you want to be put together. You have to know what goes and what fits your body and how to market yourself so that people want you.”
Oziel, 29, a primary school teacher, said she was a teenager working a retail job at Hill Street Blues in Richmond Hill, Ont., when her fashion instincts came to the surface.
“I asked my boss if I could be the buyer of the store. I begged him for a long time to take me buying with them, and they wouldn’t because they thought I was too young. As soon as they gave me a chance, the sales at Hill Street went up. People loved what I bought, and the customers were just buying and buying,” Oziel said.
“That gave me the confidence to know that I can do this.”
She said she was soon offered a buying position at another retail store, Buffalo Jeans, but declined the offer because she wanted to go to teacher’s college to get her degree.
Despite her teaching career, Oziel hasn’t given up on her passion. She operates a service on the side called Tash Style and Image Coach (www.tashstyle.com).
“I offer my time to go shopping with you, go into your wardrobe to organize it for you. I can colour co-ordinte it for you, get rid of stuff that you don’t wear anymore,” she said.
“I can show you things in your closet that you should be wearing more and how to piece it together… and how to decide what style of clothing you should be wearing to flatter your body.”
Thirty-year-old Lampert, who runs a fashion consulting service similar to Oziel’s called Dresscode Styling Agency (www.dresscodeagency.com), started working on commercial and music-video television shoots for different production companies around Toronto in 2007.
Lampert said she can relate to people who just want to be comfortable in their sweatpants all day, but agreed with Oziel that putting yourself together in the morning is more important than some people realize.
“You never know where or with whom you’re going to end up at any point in the day,” she said, adding that looking your best can alter your mood and boost your confidence.
“If there was a day that I wasn’t feeling up to it and didn’t want to go to school, my mother would tell me to pick out my favourite outfit, put on makeup, make myself look good and feel good and get my ass to school. That really did make a difference,” Lampert said.
“The time that it takes to put on a nice pair of jeans and a white T-shirt is equivalent to the time it would take you to put on sweatpants, but you’ll feel more put together and more confident in your daily interactions.”
Oziel added that she understands that women who spend their days doting on their families often let their own needs fall by the wayside, but taking pride in the way you look is the least you can do for yourself.
“Even if you’re going to the mall with your three kids and husband and you’re in sweatpants, you’ll feel like crap and show the world you feel like garbage and don’t respect yourself,” she said.
“It’s not about impressing anyone else, but it’s about making yourself feel good. When you dress up and look good, you’re going to feel good.”
Dressing well doesn’t mean you have to splurge on designer labels. Finding clothes that fit properly and flatter your frame is enough to modify your look.
“Everything is about fit. You can wear anything you want, as long as it fits properly,” Oziel said.
“If you’re very busty, don’t wear a low-cut shirt tucked into a skirt. You need to let it out so you look like your torso is a little bit longer and you’re not all chest.”
She said for those who have body types that are hard to fit, tailors can be your best friend.
“If you find jeans that fit you everywhere except the waist, you can cinch in the waist.”
Lampert, who obtained a fashion merchandising degree from Seneca College and interned with designers Ian Hilton and Joseph Mimran, pointed out that most people aren’t brought up with an education in fashion.
“Your mother may have told you about certain colours clashing, not to wear white after Labour Day – first of all, none of those rules apply anymore, but I’ve come up with a system of how to teach people to dress. It’s a four-point system about how to put yourself together in the morning.”
Lampert, who offers daily styling tips through her Twitter account @DresscodeAgency, said she thinks people should veer from wearing too much of the same colour at once.
“They might wear too much neutral or wear two shades of the same colour… One of my rules is to dress in contrasting colours. I’ll always leave my clients with a colour wheel to put in their closet so they can see what brightens, and works together and compliments. If you work on the same side of a colour wheel, it can wash you out instead of punch you up.”
But for those not interested in following rules, Lampert said she gives credit to people who want to think outside the box when it comes to choosing an outfit.
“Even though they may not get it right every time, at least they’re trying,” she said.
“If you want to be bold, be bold. Just wear it confidently. If you didn’t get it right that time, try again.”
Being bold is right on track with this summer’s trend of colour blocking, Oziel said.
“Colour blocking – taking two bright colours and putting them together – is very hot for the summer. So it could mean wearing a bright blue shirt with coral shorts. But you have to make sure that your accessories are neutral,” said Oziel, who also tweets daily style tips @tash_style.
Although religious women who are concerned with dressing modestly may have a few more restrictions when it comes to shopping for the latest trends, both Oziel and Lampert agree that frum woman can cover up and look chic at the same time.
“They can buy themselves a shell [nylon, long-sleeved shirts], and still go to trendy stores like H&M and buy whatever they want and wear it on top,” Oziel said.
Lampert said another option is to wear a sheer, long-sleeved top with a pop of colour underneath.
“Luckily, long skirts are in right now, so that’s perfect. This summer, statement necklaces are in, so that’s another easy way to punch things up.”