She’s back. Los Angeles-based stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie, aka our fashion guru, is here to give us the latest rules and regulations for party attire just in time for the holidays. We’ve gone to Sissy in the past for coat etiquette and denim do’s and don’ts, and now we need her more than ever to master this season’s fancy feels. From breaking glitter norms to feeling confident and comfortable, Sissy reveals the ultimate party attire attack plan. Trust us, after reading this you’ll feel ready for every holiday party that comes your way.
Above: Calder Blake Ono jacket (worn backwards); Luz Ortiz drop earrings.
HAS FASHION’S APPROACH TO PARTY ATTIRE CHANGED RECENTLY? IF SO, HOW? I don’t know about the rest of the fashion but I’m prepared to rethink party attire and I encourage women to approach it in a way that feels right for them. Anyone else’s inbox clogged with newsletters telling them to wear bodycon sequin micro mini dresses and glitter stilettos to a holiday party? Can we please redefine what it means to be a smokeshow?
HOW SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT PARTY ATTIRE THIS YEAR? I think we can find party attire that is dignified and comfortable and still able to turn heads. The holiday season is freezing cold, we are feasting, drinking, celebrating, conversing. Let’s have the self respect to be toasty, steady on our feet, and prepared to accommodate a full belly.
ANY STYLING TIPS FOR MAKING PARTY ATTIRE FEEL LESS FUSSY AND MORE MODERN? Less fuss does not have to equal apathy. Retire the old notion of scoring cool points for showing up overly casual to prove you’re not trying too hard. Please consider that you might need to try harder. Consider that it may be rude not to. As Tom Ford says: “Dressing well is a form of good manners.” You could wear jeans to the holiday party, but honestly why would you want to? Especially if this is your one chance a year to get dressed up. For your 2016 holiday party, don’t play small. Embrace looking fan-fucking-tastic and go put on a dress. You can wear jeans the other 364 nights of the year. If you’re not a dress person, wearing a tunic over cropped pants is a chill and considerate option.
Start by feeling really good on the inside and then let your beauty radiate from within.
Make it all about accessories – sometimes a simple black ensemble and terrific earrings are all you need.
Work a festive color.
Don’t go casual. Try harder.
Reveal and conceal. Thoughtfully chose a garment that reveals only your favorite zones – clavicles, back, leg or face – and leave the rest to the imagination. Think open back and high neck, side slit and maxi length, strapless A-line tops and flared pants, full coverage and fabrics that drape sensuously.
Just call her our style guru. Los Angeles-based stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie gave us the lowdown on how to do denim righta while back, and she gave such sound advice that we knew we had to pick her brain about all the fresh ways to wear one of Fall’s most important pieces: the coat. From how to keep your mojo intact in outerwear to modern ways to style a well-worn favorite, Sissy helps us break down all the new coat rules you need to know.
HOW SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT OUTERWEAR WHEN APPROACHING A NEW SEASON OF COLDER MONTHS? Think of a coat as more than protection against cold. It should protect against mundanity. It should harness your body heat as well as your mojo.
HAS FASHION’S APPROACH TO OUTERWEAR CHANGED RECENTLY? I think the bomber/parka/puffer craze is a welcome change because your coat can be super insulated and super stylish. You can be warm as hell without feeling like Holly Hunter in Home for the Holidays.
WHAT COAT RULES SHOULD WE KEEP IN MIND THIS YEAR?
A fashion statement can be playful but it should always be smart. You especially don’t want to get this wrong with outerwear. Be smart, be practical, stay dry, stay warm.
Try an unexpected color, fabric, print or silhouette.
If you opt for fur, look for something ethically sourced like Milena Silvano.
A good quality coat is going to be an investment piece which can last generations. You’ll want to put in the time and energy to getting it right.
WHAT COATS SHOULD EVERY WOMAN HAVE IN HER CLOSET? Coats suitable for the weather where you live and may travel. Something down-filled. Something waterproof. For the record, I have always lived in California and half my life has been spent in Los Angeles where it rarely falls below 54 degrees and rain is scarce. I have an entire rack of light jackets, mostly worn in overly air conditioned restaurants and theaters in the summer. For me, coats are a delicacy and often more decorative than practical. But in my experiences traveling to New York, London, Paris and Berlin in winter, there’s nothing worse than being inadequately prepared for inclement weather.
WHAT IS TRENDING IN OUTERWEAR LATELY?
Monochromania: Opt for a coat in an unexpected color and then wear that color from head to toe. If you feel so emboldened, go for something bright like red-orange or yellow. Or try a more muted yet adventurous monochrome look like this sage green ensemblefrom TownClothes. Or to play it safe, this look is alway chic and smart in a traditional color like camel,grayor navy.
Military Operation: The military trend has been rehashed too many times to count. Safe to say it’s a classic at this point. Keep in mind the essence of what keeps military inspired coats coming back: time-honored colors like olive green, plus durability and functionality. Forego unnecessary embellishments like decorative buttons and epaulettes. A good military overcoat will endure years of cold weather and can be the a great layering piece or a canvas for ephemeral updates like a corset belt, or whatever trend should come down the pike for the next few seasons.
Trademark patent trench (similar here); Gray Matters Mildred pump in white (similar here); Derek Lam 10 Crosby Gia Mid-Rise Cropped Flare; The Palatines socks (similar here); Creatures of Comfort bag (similar here); Open House earrings (similar here).
Plaids and Tweeds: Isn’t it nice when classics are trending! Make the most of this oxymoronic moment by swooping up a coat in a tweed or plaid wool like this one from Anntian or Horses Atelier’s herringbone duster. Woolens associated with British upper crust may be having a moment but they will also be heirloom pieces you’ll want to keep forever.
Anntian plaid Poncho (similar here); Gray Matters Mildred pump in white (similar here); Sissy’s own suit (similar here and here) and shirt (similar here).
Patchwork Shearling: Shearling coats, as well as patchwork and graphic furs, are spotted all over street style blogs these days. This one from Milena Silvano is handmade from ethically sourced sheepskin. C.F. Goldman has done some great faux furs this season as well.
Milena Silvano coat (similar here); Pari Desai skirt (similar here); Open House earrings (similar here); Sissy’s own sweater (similar here) and vintage boots (similar here).
Oversized: Oversized coats are so big right now. But simply wearing a coat that’s too big for you would be gauche. Choose a well-tailored coat with one oversized feature such as extra long sleeves, ankle-skimming length, dramatic width or exaggerated shoulders.
Black Crane trench (similar here); Sissy’s own jeans (similar here) and top (similar here).
We’ve got a serious couple crush on this Los Angeles-based duo. They’ve worked with some of our very favorite designers – Shaina Mote, Imago-A, Older Brother, Assembly, VereVerto, Loeffler Randall, Objects Without Meaning – and the coolest magazines like Nylon, Numero, Oyster, Dazed & Confused and Flaunt. And behind the camera they’re just as inspiring. We sat down with power couple stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie and photographer Eddie Chacon to quiz them on their creative process, their style and secrets to a successful marriage.
FIRST, CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON WHEN YOU GOT MARRIED, WHAT PART OF LA YOU LIVE IN, THE BASICS? We live in Los Feliz and just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.
HOW DID YOU GUYS MEET? At a bar. They didn’t have Tinder back then.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER? We can spend endless hours planning before a shoot. On the other hand, we can choose to be completely spontaneous when we get to set and there’s that trust that it will work because we know one another’s process and vision.
DO YOU FIND THAT IN SOME WAY YOU’RE ALWAYS CREATING TOGETHER? DO YOU EVER STEP AWAY FROM THAT PART OF YOUR LIVES? No we never step away. Creating together is a constant part of our relationship.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME SECRETS TO A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE? Salt of the earth advice from my grandmother: “Just be good to each other.” And from Eddie’s mom: “When she’s down, you lift her up. When he’s down, you lift him up.” And from Joni Mitchell: “All I really want our love to do is bring out the best in me and in you, too.” With that in mind, we compete to see which of us can be nicer to the other one.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY OR NIGHT TOGETHER IN LOS ANGELES. Not much can compare to a night at home watching Netflix with the fireplace on and our two cats nearby. For daytime, we like a nice long drive out to Malibu or noshing at some of the many new restaurants popping up all over LA.
TELL OUR READERS MORE ABOUT YOU, HOW YOU BECAME A STYLIST. I left the teaching profession after 10 years. A friend was letting go of her vintage business and I took over her inventory and started slinging rags. I used my vintage to style early shoots for Eddie. One thing led to another and I guess I’m for reals a stylist now.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE MOMENT WHEN YOU FIRST DISCOVERED YOUR LOVE FOR FASHION? No, I can’t remember a specific moment. I just know I compulsively thought about it until I eventually gave myself permission to pursue it as my bread and butter. Not until my late thirties though.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR CURRENT SOURCES OF INSPIRATION? Demna Gvasalia these days. And Phoebe Philo eternally. I always love what Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran are doing. And Maryam Nassir Zadeh is still super inspiring.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH VINTAGE. Since I spent all those years digging through thrift stores, I no longer enjoy the treasure hunt like I once did. New fashion feels so refreshing to me now. But for vintage, I let other people to the sourcing and I’m happy to pay the markup. I know the time and energy that goes into it.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? I wouldn’t know how to describe it. If I see something I love, I say, “That’s so mama.” Whatever that means. I call myself mama. When I was young, I used to pray to be edgy and weird but I’m not edgy and if I’m weird it’s in ways I have little control over. I’m allowing myself to be drawn to what I’m naturally drawn to, which seems to be the conventionally pretty, the ladylike, smart, feminine, timeless things, with some whimsy and rottenness here and there.
BEST STYLE ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? Wear things that look good on you. Like no duh, right, but that’s hard advice to heed when you’re young and figuring it out and want to be everything to everyone. And once when I was younger, I came across the term “mutton dressed as lamb” and that sounded like the most horrific sartorial folly ever. Don’t be THAT person, I thought. I’ve always looked for older women who remain elegant, tasteful, and sexy in a dignified way, and true to themselves, as inspiration.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO OUTFIT? I never thought these words would cross my lips (or fingertips) but I’ve become obsessed with jeans and t-shirts. I have moments of pretty dresses and peacocking. I pretty much wear my Vetements jeans and a simple top everyday. But let’s see once summer hits and we’re into triple digits.
DO YOU HAVE ANY STYLE ICONS THAT INFLUENCE YOU? All of them at one time or another. If I can channel a style splice of Sade meets Caroline Bessette-Kennedy, I feel good.
WE HEAR YOU WERE IN A BAND? TELL US MORE! I spent most of my life as a musician. My proudest moments being my song “Wounded Bird” that I wrote and sang for the soundtrack to the movie True Romance and my hit song “Would I Lie to You” from my record Charles and Eddie, Duophonic in the early ’90s (yes, I’m a one hit wonder). These things were a boyhood dream come true and I’m still incredibly gracious that these things happened.
HOW DID YOUR CREATIVE WORK EVOLVE OVER THE YEARS? My father used to always say, “Just focus on the rung of the ladder in front of you. One day you’ll look up and be surprised how far you’ve climbed.” I guess this is me. I have just been moment to moment trying my best to say the things I want to say in the way that’s truest to who I am my whole life. I have had tremendous failures and lots of crazy hair-brained endeavors but at the end of the day it has led to a very happy life and a wonderful marriage so I can’t think of a better payoff.
WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS FOR A SHOOT? I try to remain focused on what I’m inspired by personally and how can I contribute or add something to that sauce. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel but I do aspire to put my own spin on my subject matter. I tell myself, you don’t need a camera to make great photos. I ask myself “What do I want to say?” and then I pick up the camera. I’m realizing my process is mostly cerebral not physical.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? I’m not sure I have one. Age-appropriate regular guy? When in doubt, I let Sissy dress me.
Inspired by our mutual obsession with denim, and its designer roots in the Los Angeles Fashion District, we’re excited to introduce you to the perfect summer shoe. Seriously. Designer Jessica Taft Langdon created the Palatines’ Caelum Slide in Slate in a special limited edition quantity just for us… well, you. She and stylist extraordinaire Sissy Sainte-Marie became fast friends after some mutual admiration on social media, so she was the perfect person to style and model this special collaboration.
“I love this Palatines slide so much,” says Sissy. “I have it in three colors and wouldn’t mind having three more. They look good with everything and have the ability to dress up what needs dressing-up and and dress down what needs dressing-down.”
“As is very typical for me, the inspiration came from the material itself,” explains Jessica. “I saw a small stack of beautiful hides at a leather supplier here in LA. The color, natural finish and softness hooked me, and I bought all of the remaining stock. I’d put it aside in the studio, and knew I’d find a good use for it eventually.” Enter Garmentory and our need for all things denim and we found the perfect fit for the almost indigo hue. “It’s as easily wearable as a favorite pair of jeans. And since all of our shoes have a very soft leather lining, they’ll mold to your foot, in the same way that your Levi’s shrink to fit!”
Another detail about The Palatines x Garmentory Caelum Slide we’re so excited about is the impeccable comfort and fit. There’s a hidden thong that keeps the foot from sliding and your toes from cramping so you’ll be wearing these babies allllll summer long.
Only a few of these slides are available, so don’t hesitate. Shop Now
You know how we love our denim here at Garmentory, so we teamed up with Los Angeles-based stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie to dive right into the blue. We’ve long believed in the power of a pair of jeans (or, you know, 10), but with key updates to fits and silhouettes and fashion’s latest love affair with head to toe denim, it’s a whole new world of indigo. We’ve finally embraced the Canadian tuxedo in a real way, and mom jeans, cropped flares and wide leg silhouettes have eclipsed our desire for skinny jeans and boyfriend jeans. Here, Sissy shows us how the new rules are done right now.
HOW CAN WE APPROACH CLASSIC BLUE DENIM IN A FRESH, MODERN WAY? I’m no authority, but what I’m drawn to in my personal style is matching sets, Canadian tuxedos, dark denim with white stitching, and although the idea of “dressed up denim” is nothing new, I am loving well-worn denim with fancy blouses, statement shoes, and bold accessories. I dislike the concept of “saving things” for good or for special occasions. Let those fancies come out in the sunshine! Pairing with lived-in denim is a great way to make maximal, overstated pieces accessible in the daytime.
WHAT ARE THE KEY SILHOUETTES TO LOOK FOR? Sailor pants, dorkified fit (flooded, flared, and FUPA), mom jeans, dad jeans, moppa jeans. Let your skinny jeans go, unless you’re one of the few people they flatter.
WE LOVE ALL THE DECONSTRUCTED DENIM WE’RE SEEING. ARE THERE ANY TIMES A FRAYED EDGE ISN’T APPROPRIATE? Other than to a wedding, court, or maybe a country club, a frayed edge can go anywhere.
HOW SHOULD WE BE INVESTING IN DENIM? If your jeans cost twice your rent or mortgage but you wear them hundreds of times, it’s a good investment. Also, well-curated vintage denim taken to your tailor for fine tuning is a good investment.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE PIECES FROM THE SHOOT. I like to wear things that feel good against my skin and the Creatures of Comfort quilted sailor pants and light jacket are the softest cotton. And the pants have such a flattering fit. And Shaina Mote’s dark denim swing trench coat with white stitching is perfection.