A Conversation with Valerie Halfon surviving winter looking cool
Surviving winter looking cool.
Down the cold, blustering streets of Paris, New York City walk some of the most fashionable and attractive women on the planet.
If you wonder how they manage to look flawless, read on.
The ability to transform simple garments into chic outfits or to look hot despite the chill is not limited to models or women with haute couture budgets. It’s a skill anyone can acquire.
Valerie Halfon has that know-how. More than just a personal shopper, she’s a guide to practical personal style. In merely five years, and with no formal training, she’s built a successful fashion business that’s landed on a number of editorial pages. And her NY-based business, Shop with Val, draws clients from around the world.
Valerie owes her success in part to her ability to understand clients’ concerns. But she’s also a great resource for style and beauty. Here’s some tricks-of-the-trade.
February Doesn’t Mean Frumpy… here are some winter fashion picks that will keep you from looking worn or last-season.
• Capes are very chic when worn over leggings with tall boots.
• Vests are huge now. Fur vests are really cool. They really dress up an outfit.
• Funky oversized sweaters pair well with skinny jeans or leggings.
• Wolford tights – opaque, texture and lace – paired with a great pair of knee high boots are great in winter.
• Wear layers. A cute cropped blazer is nice under knee-length coats. A vest or scarf finishes the look (and keeps you warm).
• Skirts and dresses are all lengths now, mini to knee. One popular look is skirts paired with a crop top.
• Flare jeans, corduroys… “The 70s are back and designers are having fun with that.”
• People are warming up to the idea of wearing white all year round.
• My best advice: invest in a good winter coat.
A great part of looking put-together is a total look that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Personal shoppers can show you how.
• My goal is to set up a total look. How can I make the same piece work day to night, how can I create different looks? I’d rather clients walk away with a complete look than buy separate pieces that they don’t know how to put together.
• I teach my clients about the importance of accessorizing. Knowing when and how to wear a belt or a statement necklace can easily transform a look.
• To look really chic, the ankle boot is the best investment a woman can make. You can wear it with anything from jeans to leggings to skirts to dresses. They really dress up your look.
• What’s style without comfort? Chunky heels are the best way to go. They’re practical, comfortable, and better for the foot.
• For cool, quality shoes, she recommends Sam Edelman, Cole Hahn, Vince Camuto, Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman.
• Anything that doesn’t look natural is passé. Choose a make-up palette that’s close to your skin tone. The trick is to look soft and natural, like you’re not wearing make-up.
• For a more glamorous look: you can have more fun with lipstick; go for deeper tones.
• Mascara is an absolute essential.
Tarte organic foundation, concealer, bronzer, Nars blush, Urban Decay eye shadow, Benefit mascara, matte lipstick. Nars has a really great matte lipstick that stays on all day.
Bun makers are great. In five minutes, you can create buns that sit perfectly on top of the head. Try the ones from Sarah Potempa. That, Or try braids. For how-to do, study Youtube videos and practice in front of the mirror.
My travel essentials
• A make-up bag with everyday essentials like moisturizer, bronzer, concealers, an eye shadow palette, lipstick is a must
• Statement necklaces, fun bracelets…
• A black fedora
• Sweaters, turtlenecks
• Button-down shirts, non-iron
• Formal work wear
• Ziplop bags
• Darling, (West Village), a charming boutique with a garden in the back, has a great selection of vintage pieces and an eclectic mix of international fashion. I love their accessories.
• BOC (Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side) is my go-to destination for higher-end wear and wonderful designers who are still under the radar but very fashion forward.
Dept Stores, Retail Chains
• Lord & Taylor.
• Banana Republic, Ann Taylor: very budget-friendly.
• BCBG is great for textures, print, color and fit. It’s a more fashion-forward look.
Spring Fever: what’s trending
• Pastels and floral prints in silk, chiffon, and tulle.
• Ballerina-inspired skirts.
• Monochromatic looks.
• Neutrals like cream and camel: they’re very rich looking.
I’m partial to classic American designers. They’re smart, sophisticated and work for all ages.
• Ralph Lauren
• Michael Kors
• Calvin Klein
• Ted Baker uses lots of color and prints; his fashion is truly a work of art.
• Diane von Furstenberg is great; her wrap dresses have been iconic for five decades.
Bloggers to Follow
• Bows and Sequins
• Rach Martino
• Up Close And Stylish
• Song Of Style
• Courtney Adrienne
• Man Repeller
• Dulce Candy (style and beauty blogger)
• Emily Jackson – The Ivory Lane
• Brooklyn Blonde • Blair Eadie – Atlantic-Pacific
Plus Size Brands
A good part of my job is boosting women’s self-esteem,… Women can be so critical of themselves, of their bodies. It’s my job to teach them how to become more confident, how to highlight their best features.
Lisa Stahl, a native New Yorker, has authored many articles that graced the cover pages of magazines and websites. She’s the author of two distance-learning courses on fashion and has contributed substantial research and content on politics and foreign policy to three books by a political analyst and adviser to Hillary Clinton. Lisa’s achievements include an MA in English with honors from Columbia University. She also studied piano at Juilliard.