Interview: Lauren Messiah

Name an item of clothing we should buy, store and bin this autumn/winter?

I always keep everything! I would definitely say an item to buy would be a coloured pant or a printed pant. In LA, everyone is wearing these at the moment.

As for an item to keep, I would say hang on to your motorcycle jackets – these are a classic staple that you can wear in so many different ways. Right now the whole ladylike trend is in, but here in LA they’re mixing it with tougher pieces like motorcycle jackets and boots.

As for an item to bin - I always hang onto everything because everything comes back around! But I would say lose the mullet hem skirt – the one that’s shorter at the front and longer at the back. That was a very short-lived trend.

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What are some trends from the recent autumn/winter shows that everyone can easily incorporate into their own wardrobes?
I think the easiest is the 60s mod trend. There’s so many pieces within that trend. You can take it literally, or you can experiment by playing up 60s pieces such as the simple shift dress. Within this trend too, there’s a lot of accessories that can be incorporated very inexpensively, for example, over-sized earrings or a big beaded necklace. For me, that’s the easiest trend for autumn/winter.

Who are some up-and-coming designers we should be watching out for?
I like this one label called Cushnie et Ochs. I think everyone should check it out!

You’re well known for mixing luxe items with budget options for a high fashion look – what are your top styling tips for achieving this?
For me the important items are the more expensive ones – bags and shoes last forever and they really make a statement. My philosophy when buying clothing is to spend as much as you can on investment pieces like dresses and blazers, and then spend less on jewellery, because there’s so much great costume stuff around.

I also skimp on mini-trends - for instance I went to Forever 21 a few weeks ago and grabbed a great pair of leopard print leggings – they look exactly like the Givenchy ones that were around a couple of years ago, but these were $12!

Where do you get your styling inspiration from?
Everywhere! I’m a junkie. I have eight tabs open on my browser right now, and they’re all fashion sites. I live on style.com, and I have an RSS feed of 30 different blogs that I read every day, which is kind of like my morning paper!

I’ve also gotten really into Pinterest –it’s an easy way to see what’s happening. For me, I have to be on the computer and reading magazines more – because in LA you have to drive everywhere, so there’s not as much people watching to be had as in say, New York.

Favourite celebrity style moment?
I always like it when people take a chance – I’m not a huge red carpet buff, I like it when people have fun. For example when Nicky Minaj wore that leopard print beehive, I was like, “that’s how you do it”. Anyone on the worst dressed lists, I’m like, “good job, you took a risk”. You’re supposed to have fun with fashion.

I love the recent Alexander McQueen show as another “high risk” example – I want to see someone on the red carpet wearing those crazy bell sleeves!

If you could raid anyone’s closet in the world, who would it be and why?
I’d go with the person who has the most variety in their closet, so Sarah Jessica Parker would be my pick. I pretty much wear whatever I’m in the mood for, and I think she does the same. I could be rock ‘n’ roll one day and sophisticated the next. Plus, we share the same shoe size!

Which fashion blogs or websites do you follow?
I love fashionista.com to get the latest industry gossip. I also love themanrepeller.com, which is this girl who lives in New York. Her whole philosophy is dressing for fashion and not for appealing to the opposite sex! She files the craziest stuff and wears the wackiest runway pieces and layers millions of things over the top of each other. Then I also read Fashion Copious, which is like a feed of all the cool magazine editorials.

How much do you shop online? Do you have any tips for snagging a bargain online?
I do most of my shopping in the real world so to speak, as it’s such a big part of my job. So when I’m out I’m always like, “oh, may as well pick up a few things for myself!” But I also do a lot of shopping online. I love the site Yoox, which is all designer things for sale. Everything’s a season old, but it’s all up to 75% off. I love the The Outnet as well.

I also use online shopping for research purposes. If I can get a deal, then I’ll definitely buy it online. But I would advise making sure you stay true to your style and don’t get too wrapped up in the fact that it’s 90% off, because then you get stuff you’re never going to wear. So stick to cuts that you know work for you, or designers who sizes you're familiar with.

What’s your solution to those ‘I have nothing to wear’ days?
I think it’s really good to pre-plan so you don’t have those days. If I have some spare time I’ll play in my closet and try and find new combinations that work. That way, if you don’t have time to think about what you’re going to wear, you already have two or three outfits on standby. I also take pictures of all my client’s outfits so they never face that question and they have a go-to book of outfits.

But everyone has those “nothing to wear” days, even stylists, so I just start with a piece that I love and I add from there. I don’t stand in front of the closet and hope that something jumps out, I’ll start with a key piece and build around it.

Lauren Messiah is Westfield’s resident LA stylist. For more style tips, visit your local Westfield Stylist or www.westfield.com.au.

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