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Monday, August 29, 2011

Another reason why I love my job...

Another reason why I love my job, you often get to meet some of the coolest people. Famous, not so much, but creative and exciting and passionate about what they do!

I had the opportunity to meet and interview Elliot Staples, the Senior Vice President of Design for The Limited. His smile and genuine warmth is the first thing you notice and that’s just his face. His body language makes you feel at ease immediately. He is all about being yourself and when asked about his own personal approach to dress he replied "simple and classic, and I love jeans." So check out the picture and I expect you will agree.

Oh, but his shoes.... a washed grey leather was an indicator that he has a thing for shoes and loves style! Sitting down with Clinton Kelly a year ago was very reminiscent of my chat with Elliot. We were like two old fashionista's trading style secrets while discussing best approaches to styling women, great looks and color palettes for the season. We also talked about up and coming projects for The Limited, and we were both very excited.

Making that connection with Elliot was like putting on my favorite shoe. Comfortable and sassy! Elliot loved fashion as a child and still has the paper dolls that he made (my Barbie’s were my mannequins) and credits his mother’s talent as an artist for much of his younger inspiration. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, he worked for Adrienne Vittadini and most recently, The Gap. I asked him how he made his mark at The Gap, because most designers won't leave a fashion house until they have accomplished something significant in their career. He shyly admitted that he created the "Rainbow Crazy sweater" which is the classic stripe sweater that The Gap continues making every season in one shape or another. His early career and passion was built on designing sweaters.

Elliot has been with The Limited now for over ten years, but has been overseeing the design for 5 to 6 years. I wanted to talk about things that came up for me as a stylist and to get his take on what I encounter. I asked how The Limited would take into account this season’s trend with darker clothes on top and light clothes on the bottom. The rule has always been the opposite to slim the body visually from top to bottom. He replied camel pants, and yes, go for the white pants to be worn year round! As Elliot and I continued to compare notes, we found that The Limited follows many of my same rules of thumb:
  • Wear whatever colors you like, but keep closest to your neck and face colors that enhance your eyes and face color.
  • We vote no for matchy-matchy and monochromatic. Go tonal instead. Selecting tones of a color through underpinning and accessories increase your wardrobe ten-fold.
  • Always try at least one new item that might not be in your comfort zone.
  • Mix browns, black, navy, grey and camel with shades of red as a pop of color. Everyone should own something red or animal or python print in their wardrobe.
  • Build a wardrobe of 50% of pants, sweater, skirts and jackets and the other 50% should be underpinning (shirts, tanks) shoes, belts, scarves and jewelry.
I love asking stylists and designers for their top picks of the season. I asked for 5 but I have to tell you with all the great options at The Limited, I think Elliot went over (completely understandable). I love what he came up with!
  • A camel coat,
  • color block top, sweater or dress,
  • a full skirt,
  • a great pair of jeans,
  • anything animal or python print,
  • a scarf, and,
  • a denim shirt.
After I finished asking about the fall line, I had one last question that I was quite curious about. So where does The Limited go from here? What's in the pipeline? Elliot's eyes began to widen and a broad smile appeared as he was quick to announce the October launch of a plus size collection sizes 14-24 called Eloquii. It will be available online and was designed after the CEO Linda Heasley fielded numerous requests from plus size women craving to have on trend fashion clothing that didn't compromise on fit and quality. The line will only be available online for the time being, but I expect the next move will to have actual stores carrying the line when it does well. Hooray for The Limited - despite the downturn in the economy, they continue to move forward by listening to consumer’s needs and focusing on what a consumer will actually purchase.

As the interview wound down, only because I needed to interview the CEO as well, I marveled at how at ease he is with himself and the goals of The Limited. As I mentioned at the beginning you just wanted to hug him because he too shares something that I am so passionate about! We both love making people look and feel good in their clothing while staying true to themselves! As we posed for our picture, I jokingly threatened to give him a kiss while waiting for Marci Milito to snap a picture. He turned to me with a smile and acknowledged that it would be ok. He is just that nice and really a true asset to the company on many levels!

Watch for the next segment on the fashion show and my two winners from the contest!

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