I have a serious style crush on Alison Freer. I met her via xoJane, where she’s our resident Clothes Editor and all-around cool chick. Like me, she enjoys pairing cowboy boots with everything from jeans to vintage Lilly Pulitzer dresses. She’s been a costume designer and wardrobe master for tons of TV shows, so she knows everything there is to know about clothing and personal style – I’m not exaggerating. Alison’s new book, “How to Get Dressed,” is a comprehensive guide to figuring out your style and caring for your clothes. Did you stain your favorite shirt? She’s got your back. Pick up a copy for yourself, one for your mom and one for your best friend. There’s valuable info in there for everyone.
I picked Alison’s brain regarding everything from silly fashion “rules” to essential closet items. Listen and learn. (My favorite Alison tip: If you want your T-shirts to feel vintage, take her advice and soak them in TSP. It changed my life!)
- What’s the most common fashion-related question people ask you? Why do you think that is?
It’s always a frantic variation on “What do I wear to a job interview?!” I mostly hear it from women (and a few men!) who are leaving college and entering the workforce for the first time. Suddenly, sweatpants and jean shorts just aren’t cutting it! When you aren’t sure what to wear, I always suggest doing some serious research as to what the general dress code of where you are applying to is, and then dress one level nicer than that. After all, you are technically a guest in their house—and you’re looking to make a great impression.
- What’s one thing you think all 20something chicks should have in their closet?
A good old-fashioned slip! If you’ve ever stepped out of the house and only later realized your dress was sort of see-through, well, you shoulda worn a slip. I dress tons of teenaged actors, and they all laugh when I first present them with a slip—but then become true believers. Your grandma knows what’s up: SLIPS RULE. (And pssst! I buy all my slips at Herroom.com. They carry a micro 12″ half-slip that is the answer to every miniskirt problem you’ve ever had.)
- What’s your most-loathed fashion “rule?”
The idea that leggings aren’t pants. How can you hate a garment that takes you from bed, to the gym, to work (in some cases), then out to dinner and back to bed with ease? But if you need a little more confidence in your leggings, look for a double-knit pair, commonly known as ponte pants. They are a bit thicker and firmer than regular leggings but are just as comfy and stretchy. Ponte pants also often have pockets or zippers, further legitimizing their status as actual pants that just so happen to be crazy comfortable!
- If you had only ten minutes to get ready for an event, what would you reach for and why? Is there such a thing as a foolproof outfit or something that can really go anywhere?
There’s a reason the “Little Black Dress” is always on those stupid lists of the ’10 Items Every Woman Should Own’—it’s practically foolproof! I keep a knee length, sleeveless, high-necked version of the LBD in my closet at all times. It’s ‘appropriate’ in a sort of sexy schoolmarm way, and I’ve worn it everywhere from first dates to funerals. It’s amazing how demure it is with ballet flats and how glam it feels with skyscraper heels.
- Who’s someone you think is truly the definition of stylish?
Michelle Obama. She has really elevated the job of First Lady with her approachable, colorful, likeable style. She never looks like her clothes are wearing her—and even when dressed for a fancy gala, she exudes a sense that you could walk right up and say hello. Her clothes are a natural extension of her personality, telegraphing who she is before she even opens her mouth. That’s the power of style, if you ask me.
- What’s the most important thing we should know regarding caring for our clothing? How can we make cheap Forever 21 dresses last as long as possible?
Proper laundry practices! If you are currently using the ‘cram everything in together and wash it all on hot’ technique, nothing you own is going to look great. Sort according to color, wash in the coldest water possible for the amount of grime involved, and hang to dry whenever possible. Treat your Forever 21 frocks as well as your designer pieces, and you’ll be shocked at how long they last!
- Is there an easy way to figure out one’s personal style? (Like, WTF is mine?)
Darlin’, your personal style is already so sorted, it’s not even funny. You are a good-hearted-woman in the body of Marilyn Monroe—silk dressing gowns worn with vintage cowboy boots. Come on now!