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Style Tips for 2012

Ditch those Capris, buy something with polka dots and wear only what you love, says Danville-based personal shopper Carolyn Rovner.

New Year’s resolutions made with unbridled enthusiasm and quickly bemoaned as difficult to keep, sometimes need the help of a professional. If revamping your wardrobe (so opening your closet is no longer an exercise in despair) tops your list, we’ve got some essential and actionable guidelines from style maven Carolyn Rovner.


Rovner began her fashion career at age 14, offering honest advice to uncertain shoppers as she worked as a fitting room checker in her home state of Michigan. She’s since built a successful style consulting and personal shopping business with C2Style, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary and a Best of the East Bay win last year.

Below she shares her tips for ensuring you don’t stumble as you search for sartorial perfection in the upcoming year, whether that means finally ditching those Uggs or introducing a punch of color to your staples.

What is your advice for women looking to revamp their style in 2012?

First thing, I’d tell them to increase their awareness of fashion, style, and clothing, either by looking at magazines or around at the people they see. Take notes about what you’re interested in, styles that you’re drawn to. Next, go into your own closet. Be ruthless. Get rid of anything you know you don’t like. The question that should be repeated is “do I love it?” You should love everything in your closet. This also applies to what you buy. If you don’t love it when you buy it, you’re not going to love it six months later. Finally, one of my biggest challenges is helping clients see themselves in a fresh and more youthful way. A lot of women dress much more maturely than they need to or should. They’re dressing ten years older than they are.

What are some good style resolutions women should make for the New Year?

1. Make sure you have a purpose for your purchase: a destination, an event, or an item it will go with.
2. Ignore the size that’s on the tag. Buy for fit. Dress your body for today; don’t dress for ten pounds less in a few months. Sizes are all over the board.
3. Promise to take clothes that need to be altered to the tailor right away, either in-store or over the next three days. Make friends with your tailor (Rovner turns to Helena at All Apparel Alterations on Railroad Avenue in Danville). People need to understand that a pair of off-the-rack pants fitting is like hitting the lottery.
4. Toss items that don’t fit, that are worn out, pit-stained, pilled, have holes, and anything that you didn’t wear for two seasons. Forget how much you love it.

What trends should women ditch?

One closet at a time I’m trying to get rid of Capri pants. They make a petite woman look shorter and a taller woman look like she’s grown out of her pants. You can get a better effect by wearing Bermuda shorts or an ankle pant. I can’t wait to see Uggs go away. When you succumb to that you’re sacrificing your own personal sense of style. That’s what I try to get my clients to do, to look outside of what everyone else is doing and ask “how can I stand out and express myself, have a little of my own flair?” Also, tights with cut off jean shorts, boxy sweaters and blouses, and ugly bulky comfort shoes. I understand people need them but they’re so many cute options. Finally, when people wear leggings as bottoms and you can see their lady business. I don’t want to see your butt cheeks.

What essentials should everyone have?

This sounds strange, but a daytime dress that’s funeral appropriate. So many times I’ve pulled out this hideous black dress from clients’ closets and they say “that’s my funeral dress” and it’s a tent. Let’s update the funeral dress. Choose a piece in gray, navy, or black that fits you and looks nice. Other essentials include a nice pair of dress pants, a trench coat, and a go-to top or cardigan that you can wear with dress pants, a pencil skirt, or jeans — a good pair of dark wash in a skinny or trouser fit, depending on which silhouette works. Neutral pumps in black or nude are also really important. And finally, add a lovely cocktail dress, but not necessarily in black. It’s fun to walk into the party in purple.

What trends are you most looking forward to and how should we wear them?

Some of the spring trends are kind of out there. I like to focus on trends that are realistic, like polka dots and paisley, which are fresh for spring and different from the typical nautical stripe that’s “in” every spring. I also like bright colors, like orange and turquoise, which I bring down a bit with neutrals such as white, khaki, or navy. And there’s also a return to the classic ballet flat. Expect pleated skirts, both structured and flowy, and maxi skirts to replace the maxi dress that’s been popular in the past. The best way to pull off these trends is to add them to a really basic, classic foundation piece. Combining a great pair of white jeans with a bright top can make you trendy without being way out on the limb; you’re kind of closer to the tree. Mix trends with the classic and dabble in new prints and colors with accessories.