It’s kind of hard to believe that just a few days ago I was laying on the beach by the Pacific Ocean, walking down Hollywood Boulevard and listening to Ilaria Urbinati (one of the top 25 most powerful celebrity stylists) in my School of Style Menswear Styling class. If you follow me on instagram (@chicstripes, #sydneypageinla), then you saw the highlights of my trip, but I wanted to share the full blown shindig because, well, I have pretty pictures and I learned a lot.
I left Richmond at 5:30 AM (meaning a 2:45 AM wake up call) and enjoyed an amazing overhead view of my city as my plane took off. I started The Goldfinch on this trip (so far, it’s only meh; lots of drugs/drinking/angst) and downed two cups of coffee by the time I finally landed in LA, at the good old Pacific time of 10:30 AM. I’ve flown over the west before, but I had a blast staring out the window as the landscaped changed.
Once landed, I took a photo of the first palm tree I saw, grabbed the shuttle to my rental car and navigated my way over to the hotel (taking Interstate 405, which immediately reminded me of this Death Cab song). I had about an hour wait, but fortunately I was allowed to check in early. To kill time, I ordered lunch at the Starbucks across the street from my hotel and just saw on their patio, looking at more palm trees and reveling in the fact that was in California.
After an hours rest in my hotel, I took off for Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches. They were just a short drive away from my hotel and the moment I crested the hill and saw the Pacific for the first time, I was almost breathless. It was just such a crazy feeling being on the Pacific when I am so used to the east coast. Needless to say, I loved it! The beach was gorgeous, the water was blue (and freezing I might add). I spent plenty of time reading, sunning, and walking up and down the strip. I also took advantage and ran down to Hermosa beach where I watched surfers for a while then headed back for the sunset, which was a little anti-climatic as there were too many clouds for a good show. After that, it was Whole Foods for dinner and an early bed time.
The next morning I woke up at 5:30 AM (LA time, which would make it 8:30 here), and unable to go back to sleep did a few quick Blogilates videos (totally obsessed with these). Then I packed up, went to Starbucks and started the drive to Hollywood. The interstate wasn’t nearly as clogged as I had envisioned. Yes, we were going about 10 MPH for 20-30 minutes, but once we cleared the downtown LA area, it opened right back up. Soon, I was in Hollywood. I parked my car, got out, started walking, and then did a double take as I saw the stars on the sidewalk! Call me naive, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I was on THE Hollywood Boulevard. Our class was also in the W Hotel, a hotel that apparently all the celebs have frequented. The most glamorous celerity photos were framed in HUGE frames upstairs and I took photos of a few of my favorites.
But now down to the good stuff – the Menswear Styling class! This is why I was in LA after all right? The class was relatively small with about 12 people. Surprising, a good handful had never taken a single School of Style class while about half of the class were actual graduates (meaning they have taken Class 1, 2 and 3 in the program). We kicked off the class with a fantastic overview of the history of men’s style and covered everything from style icons (in this case, defined as a person who is recognizable because of the way they dress or what they wear. Think: James Dean, Elvis Presley, Tom Petty, Johnny Depp, Prince etc.), to style timeline (an overview of specific fashion takes in each decade from 1940-1990) and style archetypes (the type of look a particular person embodies, i.e. George Clooney defines an Older Classic look whereas Jack White is typical of an Edgy/Rocker look). We then dove right into Wardrobe 101. Did you know that v-neck t-shirts were designed specifically for dress/button down shirts? You are actually NOT supposed to see the neckline of a t-shirt under these types of shirts. I won’t give away all their secrets, so you have incentive to go to a class (of course, you could just always ask the nearest man ;)). But this brings up another point, there was one guy in the class, but the rest of us were women. As it turns out, women generally don’t know how to style men, because they don’t wear half of the items men do. Conversely, it can be hard for men to style women for the same reasons. The most important lesson I learned in this part of the class is to STUDY STUDY STUDY. You have to know your old style icons, and you have to be able to recite the 19+ different types of men’s shoes and 16+ different types of hats. Aside from these things, we studied the different body types, color coordination, tailoring, and general types of how to dress men (their psychology, etc.). We also got a hands on lesson in tying a tie and bow tie. I will be practicing on my husband.
By far one of my favorite parts of class was getting to listen to Ilaria Urbinati, a celebrity stylist with a current roster of 28 clients that include Leighton Meester, Bradley Cooper, Lady Antebellum and more. She was recently profiled in the NY Times and continually makes The Hollywood Report’s 25 Most Powerful Stylists list. And can I tell you she is refreshingly like a normal woman? Albeit a normal woman whose job is styling actors, but she loves movies, books, magazines – anything with a cultural reference be it pop or from the 1930s. Her portion of the class dealt primarily with dressing for the red carpet, but many of her points were universal. She is a firm believer that dressing men is actually harder than dressing women because you can’t cheat, you HAVE to pay attention to the details and in menswear, quality really matters. She also made it a point several times to manage your client’s expectations. While this was said in the context of red carpet styling, I think it works for personal styling as well because what it comes down to is always having open, honest communication with your clients. She also said that you have to build trust with your clients, you can’t push them too far out of their fashion comfort zone too fast, but as you build that trust and as they look good on multiple occasions, they will be more willing to trust your judgement. Finally, one of the last things she said that struck home was: “You always want to know more…practice makes perfect…and research makes you an expert.” The words were so honest and true and she is the embodiment of always studying. Her instagram is filled with pop culture references or new movies or books she is enjoying – all of these little things builds up her sense of good taste which is evident in her styling – and how many of her clients make the best dressed lists.
I am headed to the Class 2 and Personal Styling classes in DC in a few weeks and I’m excited to be getting these credentials under my belt.