Fashion expert Tia Cibani
These designers, stylists, and retail experts are women not unlike us, with too many shoes, not enough time to shop and body parts they'd rather not advertise. Listen in on their personal rules and wear-tested fashion strategies—for shopping, dressing and looking great.

Meet our experts:
  • The Modern Classicist: Ann Caruso, Freelance fashion editor, stylist, and consultant
  • The World Traveler: Tia Cibani, Creative director for the clothing label Ports 1961
  • The Plus-Size Authority: Michele Weston, cofounder of Selling Style, a marketing company
  • The Chic Realist: Jenny Capitain, Contributing fashion editor for O, The Oprah Magazine
  • The Glamour Girl: June Haynes, Vice president of retail for Valentino USA
  • The Queen of Ease: Mary Alice Stephenson, Fashion editor, TV commentator, and consultant
Jimmy Choo boots
"I always do some kind of heel. You need it for elongating your silhouette." — Michele

"I love a big, wide belt. It ties a look together and makes it pop." — June

"I like unstructured jackets—I don't wear the tailored kind." — Tia

"Fitted white button-down shirts are seasonless and go with everything." — June

"Flat-front pants in lightweight tropical wool with some stretch give you the leanest look." — Michele

"No one 'can't afford' great fashion anymore. Trends are available at so many prices." — Mary Alice

"I do a lot of H&M and Zara." — Jenny

"My closet is mostly black pants, jeans, and black and white shirts." — Ann

"Who cares if skinny pants are the latest thing? My uniform is boot-cut pants with flats. I love heels on other people, but I don't need them to make me feel feminine." — Mary Alice
Pictured above: Boots are essential—June's are equipped with the 4-inch heels she wears all day, every day. Stilettos, $845, Jimmy Choo.
Tory Burch tunic
"Become an expert on your body: Play up what you love about it and play down what you don't." — Michele

"I have no waist, so I always wear belts low on the hips." — Jenny

"Style is not a size. If you can squeeze into the 10 but the 12 fits better, buy the bloody 12! Nobody is reading your tags." — Michele

"When you're feeling heavy, splurge on new jewelry or makeup." — Mary Alice

"If you're fuller on top, watch out for gapping between buttons. Sit down in a blouse you're trying on to see what it will do." — Michele

"Boxy styles make you look like a box." — Michele

"For me the problem is finding long enough pants and sleeves. I end up wearing a lot of men's things." — Jenny

"If you have big boobs, avoid breast pockets at all costs—please! Same with back pockets if you have a big butt." — Michele
Pictured above: Tops with volume are a Mary Alice signature—preferably with longer sleeves: "My upper arms aren't my favorite body part." Michele, too, heralds the return of the tunic, because it's slimming when layered over peg-leg pants. Tunic, $750, Tory Burch.
Manolo Blahnik flats and Bruno Magli bag
"Colors and prints work best on the top half, not the bottom—with black pants or jeans." — Mary Alice

"As I get older, I will probably wear less black and switch over to navy, which throws more light onto your face." — Michele

"Black and navy as a combination is coming back. Navy softens the black, and black makes the blue look more interesting." — Jenny

"Sometimes a color comes down the runway that may not look good if you wear a lot of it, but you can play with the trend by finding inexpensive shoes or a cool little bag." — Mary Alice

"White after Labor Day feels a little too bright for the city, even with tights." — Ann

"I wear tons of white after Labor Day, but more of an ivory and maybe in a thicker fabric." — Mary Alice
Pictured above: When clothes are plainer, "there's room for a bold accent," Michele says. "But a little hit of bright goes a long way." Flats, $535, Manolo Blahnik. Bag, $510, Bruno Magli.
Black dress by Chaiken
"We may flirt with color, but we always go back to black." — June

"I don't dress up. I'll go as far as a little black dress—big scoop neck, cotton jersey, long sleeves, comes to the knee. It's easy to travel with, easy to put on." — Jenny

"Sometimes I buy vintage for black-tie events. It's a smart way to get something special for not too much money. Every actress I know does it." — Mary Alice

"Buy a long black skirt, a really stunning one, for formal events. Then get different blouses to go with it." — Ann

"Something simple and sleek is less identifiable. You can wear a dress over and over, and no one will ever know." — Mary Alice

"For a one-time formal event, rent a gown for the night." (Try Albright's or One Night Affair.) — Jenny

"I dress down for more formal occasions. I want to be very comfy and at ease in a high-pressure situation. To me black tie can be a short cocktail dress." — Tia

"Overly sexual dressing is my pet peeve. If you are sexy, you don't need clothes to signal that." — Mary Alice

Pictured above: "Everyone needs a little black dress—with sleeves or without, short sleeves or three-quarter," says Michele. Dress, $554, Chaiken.


Next Story