Street Style: Look Both Ways
BY HOLLY E. THOMAS AND MICHELLE THOMAS    |    PHOTOS BY JOSHUA YOSPYN    |    APRIL 19, 2009
LIVE Q&A: Talking Fashion, Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET    |    MORE COVERAGE: Fashion & Beauty

In spring, when Mother Nature's to-do list can include a chilly morning, a sunny afternoon and an evening downpour all in the same day, getting dressed presents more than the usual outfit quandary. But even when the forecast is unpredictable, a few perennial style secrets can help you weather the season. "You have to understand proportion to know how to layer, to know how long your tank top should be under your sweater or under your blazer," says Stacy London of TLC's hit makeover show "What Not to Wear." "For men, it's all about details -- when you see Brad Pitt in a suit, the reason it looks so good, besides Brad being Brad, is that it's tailored to perfection. A pocket square, the lining of a jacket, cuff links -- the great thing about men's tailoring and style is that it's all in the details." On a recent afternoon, we style-stalked savvy locals who mastered the art of dressing for the tricky transition between seasons. All show off elements of their personal style -- skinny studded pants, prep-school saddle shoes, stacks of funky bracelets -- while paying attention to proportion and fit. London would be proud.

Michelle Brown, 23, Silver Spring

Brown, a MAC Cosmetics makeup artist, channels tough-girl icons Sienna Miller and Agyness Deyn with a worn-in H&M leather jacket, Juicy Couture hoodie and Marc Jacobs tote. Studded motorcycle boots from Aldo round out the look. "I like how masculine they are," Brown says of her footwear. "I don't do a lot of jewelry, so I want key pieces like my jacket or my shoes to really stand out."

Why it works: Brown nails the transition from winter to spring by pairing leggings with her shorts and adding an extra layer with a cozy hooded sweater. "It's comfortable, and it's still dabbling in trends, but it's also my own style ... It's Sienna Miller meets 'The Fast and the Furious.' "

If Brown could raid any fashion icon's closet, whose would it be? "Karl Lagerfeld."

Clara Samayoa, 21, Charlottesville

The University of Virginia commerce and philosophy student blends far-flung finds with contemporary, comfortable pieces to create her laidback-traveler look. She found her vibrant scarf, sweater and of-the-moment cross-body leather bag in Argentina, pairing them with yellow aviator sunglasses, gray BDG jeans and low-top Ugg boots.

Why it works: Samayoa's casual look pops, thanks to a palette of bold, primary colors tempered with neutrals. "I like to use strong colors and solid color pieces a lot," she says. "I realized I was wearing blue and yellow, so that's why I put on the red lipstick -- so I could play with those three primary colors."

Her favorite shopping destinations: "I travel a lot, and I like to buy things from the places I visit, especially in the secondhand stores and small boutiques in Argentina. Denmark is really good, as well as Spain and Italy."

Irving Juleus, 27, Columbia

"Preppy" in Washington conjures up images of whale-print pants, pastel bow ties and full madras suits. But Juleus, a sales associate at Georgetown's Rugby outpost, gives classic menswear a modern twist. His fitted blazer and classic striped knit tie look fresh with mirrored Ray-Ban aviators, tan jeans and saddle shoes. "This look makes a statement without going overboard -- wearing something like this, you get noticed, but it's a good clean look."

Why it works: Juleus masters classic cool by choosing timeless pieces and giving them a fresh spin: He cuffs his jeans, and sports private-school-throwback saddle shoes without socks. The smart blazer makes this look ideal for early spring. "This is something I can wear during the day, go in and out of an office ... and it easily switches over to something I can wear out to dinner or drinks."

Who is his fashion icon? "Chuck Bass from 'Gossip Girl' -- the way he dresses is so preppy, it's ridiculous. To be honest, I kind of tune in so I can get ideas and see what I can and can't do."

Brooke Kao, 18, District of Columbia

A fashion blogger and graphic design student at American University, Kao routinely digs through the racks at area secondhand stores, including Georgetown's Vintage No. 5 boutique, where she works. She pairs a vintage boy's tuxedo jacket with a simple T-shirt, white patent loafers and skinny, high-waisted pants embellished with studs and zippers. The finishing touch? A harness she made herself from snap-button trim, inspired by model/designer Erin Wasson's collection.

Why it works: Kao's experimental approach to fashion proves that risks can lead to rewards, as she strikes a balance between rockabilly cool and '80s punk. "I'd just gotten my hair cut and I wanted to wear something more androgynous and simple to show it off better," she says.

If Kao could raid any celebrity's closet, whose would it be? "Susie Bubble [a.k.a. Susie Lau], from the blog Style Bubble."

Nina Vodo, 18, Silver Spring

For Vodo, maintaining individuality is key. "When I pick out my outfit in the morning, I'm not thinking about what anyone else will think," she says. Instead, Vodo follows her fashion intuition, as she did while building this thoughtfully layered outfit. Her vintage striped cardigan (a find from Georgetown's Annie Creamcheese) is topped with a delicately patterned scarf and cinched with a thin gold belt swiped from her mother's closet. Cutoff Levi's jean shorts, weathered black boots and sheer black tights finish the look.

Why it works: Vodo nails the tricky trend of multi-piece layering by cinching lightweight pieces with a funky belt. She ups the style ante with a stripe of brilliant turquoise eyeliner, filigree earrings and lace-up boots. Vodo's favorite detail? Her back-seamed tights, complete with a precise, full-leg stocking run.

Who is her fashion icon? "Kate Moss. I don't necessarily try to dress like her, but it's the persona behind it. It's laid back."

Thao Ngo, 22, Falls Church

Ngo looks to the ethnically inspired, quirky aesthetic of singers Lauryn Hill and Gwen Stefani for her "urban bohemian" style. The George Mason University student balances slouchy jeans with a tailored navy pinstriped vest, then adds suede wedges, a woven scarf from South Africa and piles of jewelry culled from, well, everywhere. "I wanted to mix soft and structured but with my little boho twist," she says. "I love baggy jeans and a cropped, tightfitting tank on top; or a military jacket with a flowy blouse underneath. I love the mix of those two concepts."

Why it works: Ngo's boyfriend jeans look stylish (and not sloppy) because she's paired them with a fitted feminine silhouette. She keeps from treading into too-trendy waters by adding her signature touch: loads of jewelry and a colorful scarf.

Her tip for wearing boyfriend jeans: "If you're short, it makes a difference if you are wearing heels," Ngo advises. "It looks more polished. I tried it with flats before and it makes you look like you're going to clean the house."

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