Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Scene
Mr. Diabolina and I went running in Runyon Canyon this morning. Like the spry 18 year olds we were when we first met and would go on jogging dates around USC.

Well...except today we couldn't catch our breath, turned purple within 20 minutes and had to take lots o' water breaks. Wah to being old and busted.

In the afternoon, I hobbled over to Sable Crow for his wardrobe and personal shopping consultation. Eeeks! Our plan was to prune his closet and identify low cost ways to inject a little color/lightness into his arsenal of Armani. I was nervous but giddy with excitement. Helped that Sable Crow's mom, when told about our appointment, rejoiced at the thought of her firstborn in colors other than black and gray. YAY!

Two things struck me about Sable Crow's closet. First, it was super organized - American Psycho super organized. I looked around a few times to make sure he didn't have a drill laying ready to kill me if I offended his fashion sensibilities ;)

The second thing that struck me was that his wardrobe was organized into two camps: work and play. There was no overlap. I remembered that I used to organize my closet like that once upon a time. When I worked in less formal, more corporate offices early in my career.

It's important to mention here that for nearly 10 years, Sable Crow worked in a very traditional corporate environment. Suits and ties were de rigeur. But last year, he left that world for what amounted to a dream job. One where the environment is significantly more relaxed.

He has often remarked how odd it is to dress more casually for work. He has even DARED to wear jeans when his boss is out of town. But I think his closet organization belies a fundamental belief that work and play clothes really shouldn't mix. And as I've said before in this blog, I think that is nonsense.

You can mix a suit jacket with jeans for a night out. Or wear a trendy top under a suit jacket to work. You can wear heels to dress up a casual dress. Or flats to tone down an evening look. And you can play with accessories - hats, scarves, necklaces, purses, bracelets, rings, earrings, cuff links, glasses, headbands - to completely reinvent any look for any situation. That's what true style is all about. Otherwise all you are doing is wearing a uniform. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Except it can get a little boring.

So half way through our consultation, I pulled a few of Sable Crow's custom made dress shirts and paired them with denim. To show him that the world wouldn't spin off its axis if he experimented a little.

This blew his mind at first but then he started getting in on the fun. Seeing new possiblities, shifting his perspective, letting go of the rigidity.

Then we tackled softening his look for the weekends. Pulled one of his almost non existent color t-shirts and paired them with jeans and a zip up. I am a big big fan of zip up sweaters on guys. If they are the right weight and cut, they can look pulled together but still comfortable and easy.

Absolutely loving the color - any color - on Sable Crow! In 12 years, I've never seen him in green. Seen what the color does for his eyes. That's bananas!

Had him dig out some colorful accessorizing options.

Like the rest of his closet options, they were mostly black and gray.

But there were a few lone pops of beautiful color that I plucked out. Look how amazing the violet and the tomato look together - especially with his coloring.

If he wants to do something a little less bold, camel and blue are also an amazing combo on him.

Definitely need to get him into more earth tones.

And into another pair of neutral shoes. These fabulous thrifted boots are his only non-tennis shoe neutral option. And they were only purchased for a costume party and recently rediscovered.

Speaking of costumes, Sable Crow bought this hooded sweater coat in 2007. He loved it at first but never wore it this past winter. Felt too sorcerer's cloak. I thought it looked a bit bath robe myself. He was ready to gift it to a friend when I suggested that if he really loved it, he should think about hemming it to about the knee.

Completely changes the feel of it, no? Proportions are soooo important, my lovelies. Did similar before and after exercises with Amber and The Modern Type during their consultations. When shopping, always think about where pieces hit you. And if the proportions are off, walk away or run don't walk to a tailor to have them altered.

Finally, I whipped together a little saucy outfit for him to wear on our shopping excursion. Just a little color and flair coupled with his go-to gray. Adore.

All the fashion talk left us starving so we had a very unfashionable pig fest of a lunch. This is Sable Crow flipping off judgmental fashion people who don't eat.

After hardening our arteries, we did some serious browsing - at Urban Outfitters, Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs, Diesel, Theory, Revolve, Phillip Lim and John Varvatos. Focused on shifting Sable Crow's deeply ingrained shopping patterns - somber colors, formal wear, exclusively Armani. Got him looking at patterns, bold colors, earth toned accessories and OTHER DESIGNERS.

Realized that we've never been shopping pals even though we both love fashion and spending time together. It's likely because he does the bulk of his shopping at Armani. And Armani is a little out of my price range. And comfort zone - too little color :)

Enjoyed a leisurely dinner and dessert at Musso & Frank's with Mr. Diabolina

Followed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Much more watchable than expected. Gotta love that Apatow clan.

Wonderful day.

The Outfit
Diane Von Furstenberg dress
Fashion District jacket
The Accessories
Forever 21 necklace and sunglasses
Chanel bag
Urban Outfitters sandals
Fashion District bangles
The Grade

The Commentary
Knew I had my work cut out for me today getting Sable Crow to open his mind up to color. So decided to wear color in a way that appealed to his painter's sensibility.

The bubble DVF dress was perfect.

Added the black accessories to show Sable Crow how simple it is to integrate color with what he already has in his closet.

Since I recently did a DVF post, let's focus on another part of the outfit: the jacket.

More specifically, the slightly puffy shoulders of the jacket.

This is a little detail that would probably go unnoticed by most lay people.

But not by a true fashionista.

The shoulder is the new body part fashion is focusing in on

It's everywhere: on the red carpet, European streets, the runways.

It was all over the spring runways: at Armani Prive

And Gaultier



Matthew and Marc

But my favorite bold shoulder was at Dolce and Gabbana

Especially this shoulder shape - like having Minnie Mouse ears on your arms!!!

Also a little like angel wings - ADORE!

They look quite costumey on a real woman. Especially in red satin with opera length gloves. But we better get used to big power shoulders.

They are sticking around for Fall 2009.

Dolce and Gabbana showed many a Elsa Schiaparelli-inspired variation.

The good news is that this focus on the shoulders shifts the entire silhouette. Broader shoulders make waists look smaller. And if you are like me and don't have a waist, this is a very good thing.

Also a good thing: piling on cheapie bracelets with major ring bling.

Borrowed this fancy ring from my mom last week for the Oscar party and forgot to give it back ;)

Made me feel extra stylista fabulous all day.

Diabolina Styled Me And I Liked It
A Sable Crow Squawks

In the last month that I've been trying my hand at professional styling, I've had a bit of success. All of my clients have been women, all have been strangers, all have said they were satisfied.

But today I had my biggest styling challenge yet. Not only was the client a friend, he was one of my best friends, one of my oldest friends. And he is one of the most fashionable people I know. Oh and did you catch that HE is a BOY??? Gulp.

I think I did a good job. Gave him something to think about, helped him. Shift his perspective, be a little more daring, lighten up and have more fun.

Here's his take on the fashion lessons learned.


I find that difficult times - when even the Oracle of Omaha admits to having the worst year of his investing career - are the best chance to take stock (pun intended). It's a chance to acknowledge that we each have limits.

And even the best have help. I mean, Tiger Woods probably has a coach right? If I followed sports, I’d probably know. Or that tennis guy with the hot-guy hair and the abs? Warren Buffett has Charlie Munger. Ben Affleck has Matt Damon. Marc Jacobs arms.

But I digress.

On Saturday, I had a special engagement planned with Diabolina—for years my fashion muse. I had asked her several weeks ago to help me with my wardrobe. Casual, I confessed to her, is Sable Crow’s Achilles’ heel.

I hate my casual wardrobe. I can never decide what to wear so that I don’t look 10 years older, or like I’m trying to look 10 years younger. Both are bad.

Now, I’m a pretty confident guy when it comes to clothes. I know my way around Emporio Armani. I sometimes go looking for things a season before they arrive.

I speak bespoke and I can tell a point collar from a spread collar and superfine wool from a cashmere blend. I can spot a well tailored suit from 50 paces. But I stumble when I have to be A) out of a suit, or B) casual. God forbid it’s both.

And—let’s face it—this is LA. Most of our lives are lived in a combination of A and B.


Terrified by the prospect of being fashion-humbled, I treated myself to a needful thing that my little sockets have been fixated on for three years! A lamp from Blackman Cruz, which is to goth home furnishings as Chanel is to Diabolina. I had just enough time to get the lamp situated before Diabolina arrived, and the show began.

Now, I’ve been urging her to consult for OTHERS for some time, smugly confident that I wouldn’t need her services in a million years. What do I have to learn? I would ask myself in the mirror in the mornings.

But in the evenings, when the inevitable dinners would arrive and I would look blankly at my closet, quite a different Sable Crow greeted me in the mirror. You have nothing to wear, he’d say. And if you wear another jeans and t-shirt combo in dark colors, I’m never going to forgive you. He would be positively abusive on weekends.

So ask for help, Mr. Crow.

Headed into the day, Diabolina had said in her planning email: I’d like to see you in more color. Bah! I thought.

When my mom asked about my weekend plans, I shared this detail with her. Diabolina is helping me with my wardrobe, I said. She wants more color.

To this my mom replied: Thank God. Tell her she has her work cut out for her.

Thanks, Mom.

We began by trimming my wardrobe, getting rid of pieces that didn’t work or that used to work but that didn’t fit anymore with who I am. It was funny, really; I’ve prided myself in having a wardrobe beyond reproach. But like a bank looking through its assets lately, I found all kinds of reasons for reproach, recrimination, and blame.

It was sartorial sub-prime. Old t-shirts. Coats that were too big. Dated Hugo Boss dress shirts. Armani pants that didn’t fit anymore (!). And what remained was an ocean of gray and black and navy. My comfort zone.

Diabolina was unfazed. This is so interesting, she said. It just goes to show that anybod y could use a little refining. You need to accessorize with some color.

I looked at her skeptically. She was undaunted. Show me what you have, she said.

We spent a good deal of time “shopping my own closet.” This concept fascinated me. It was a little like watching a chef rummage around your kitchen to make a FABULOUS meal you never would have come up with on your own. She paired patterned dress shirts with jeans, unleashed what little brown I had in my wardrobe, and encouraged me—like a good mentor—to try it myself.

Now you go ahead and pick an outfit, she said casually, lounging in a chair nearby. I was terrified. I grabbed pattern, then color, then denim, and showed them to her like a little boy showing a girl a frog.

Perfect. She said. And poof! This frog was a prince again. Let’s go shopping.

A word on shopping. I have my store. That’s all I need. Jean Bean asked me once what designer I would wear if I could only wear one for the rest of my life. Easy, said I. I already only wear one. Armani. And he rarely does color.

Besides, I had it in my head that I wasn’t allowed to wear color. I didn’t have permission.

Now, c’mon, you say. This sounds a little self-helpy. Permission? Really, Sable Crow?


We tell ourselves all kinds of things every day. Most of us do it when we’re getting dressed, on some level. Mostly, I tell myself: Don’t wear that, you’ll look too…too. Tone it down. Drape it in black. Sober it up. You can’t wear color.

Yes you can, said Diabolina. And we had so much fun. It was silly, end-of-the-economic-world fun. I even got complimented by the salespeople at the stores we visited.

It’s her influence, I’d say, pointing. Oh, said one. You brought your stylist! I looked around. A stylist? I thought. Really?

But somewhere in all the color, there was another permission to be had: permission to have a little fun, to expand my horizons, and to see myself through a different lens.

As the evening descended on us, and with visions of color in my mind, I remembered what I loved about fashion. It’s a chance to reinvent, if just a little, how the world sees us. And better—how we see ourselves.

Sable Crow
Another Satisfied Client ;)

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