Secrets of the Stylists

By Carol Tisch Photography by Barbara Banks March 1, 2011

Meet the Stylists

Tatyana Sharoubim, owner, T. Georgiano’s Shoe Salon, 1409B First St., Sarasota (941) 870-3727. Tatyana grew up in the fashion shoe business and has access to the same Italian leather factories found in boutiques in Florence and Milan. She’s always a step ahead of the next new look, and she insists that great style trumps a status brand.

Brenda Michel, co-owner, The Met Fashion House, Day Spa & Salon, 35 S. Boulevard of Presidents, Sarasota (941) 388-1772. Brenda and husband Geoffrey own The Met, where the clothes exude quiet luxury and elegance with just a hint of edge. Her look is classic with a nod to current trends.

Lissa Murphy, owner, Jane Boutique, 1409 First St., Sarasota (941) 951-5263. Lissa Murphy describes her style as sporty chic, a low-key California look that earned her film styling gigs when she lived in L.A. She has a knack for discovering emerging West Coast designers before their clothes are spied on Hollywood celebs.

Jackie Rogers, certified image consultant, Style Matters SRQ (941) 323-1358. Jackie Rogers is a fashion chameleon who loves to experiment. She’ll wear romantic hippie one day, ladylike Mad Men classics the next. That’s especially attractive to personal styling clients (both men and women) who want to break out of the proverbial fashion rut.

Kelly Augustyniak, personal styling consultant, (630) 715-3456.

Kelly’s confident, international approach to fashion earned her former Burns Court store, Kelietza, a coterie of loyal fans. Though she’s now a Chicago fashionista, clients retain her for personal shopping (she does trunk shows regularly in Sarasota).


Baby boomers are using every trick in the book, from plastic surgery to Pilates, in their effort to fight time and gravity. Here in Sarasota, they have a secret weapon: a coterie of young store owners and stylists who, thanks to our city’s demographics, are experts in helping women look fresh and fashionable after 50. We brought five of them together to discuss how they help their customers keep their fashion edge. Though their individual fashion personalities range from L.A. Boho hip to cool and classic, they were in surprising agreement about what every baby boomer woman needs to know.


What fashion mistakes do you see baby boomers making?

Brenda: The same mistakes most men and women make: not knowing how to dress for their body type. The most common mistakes are too boxy clothes on a petite shape, or clothes that are too constructed on someone who needs an easier fit.

Jackie: The first rule of dressing is make sure it fits. It can’t be sagging or bagging.

Tatyana: Some baby boomers wear things three sizes too big because they think they’re hiding their body. They end up looking a lot bigger.

Kelly: They’re afraid they’ll look like their teen-age daughter if they keep up with the trends—they don’t realize they can be trendy but in a really classic way.

Lissa: As you get older you should actually dress more minimalist and then accessorize to update your wardrobe.


Can baby boomers still follow trends?

Lissa: When women come into my store asking about trends, I say, “Why don’t we look at your body type and your complexion instead of thinking about trends? Let’s find classic pieces that will last you for years.” And when they want to update, we can do it with scarves, necklaces, shoes and handbags. That’s where you can be fun and flirty, with your accessories.

Tatyana: They don’t necessarily have to look like they’re 25, but they need to look better and feel younger. They should be able to look their age. That’s the big thing.

Lissa: I see a lot of 50-year-old women wearing trendy skinny jeans. Only 2 percent of women should wear skinny jeans.

Brenda: A woman can wear a skinny pant with a longer tunic to be part of that trend. Or a diagonal-striped dress. But to put her in a bold stripe dress wouldn’t work. You don’t want to look like you’re trying to be who you’re not—or too young.

Kelly: They don’t have to get rid of their big oversized tops; just wear them with a slim leg. Wear a wide linen pant, but with a tank top. The volumes have to be balanced.


How do you deal with women’s sensitive body issues—like their arms, for example?

Jackie: We’re all in the business of camouflage. You work the assets and play down the parts you’re concerned about. If I see a client’s focused on her arms, I’ll say, “OK, let’s find something that minimizes them.” A three-quarter sleeve is the most flattering cut for any woman.

Brenda: Most women do want a sleeve when they get older. But it’s hard to find a black-tie piece that has a sleeve. The solution is to find a great wrap—a fur or faux fur wrap, a chiffon wrap. The dress may look better sleeveless, but boomers will feel better with a wrap.

Tatyana: Décolletage is sexy at any age for evening wear. And everything looks better with the right lingerie. Spend money for the best support and lingerie you can afford. Baby boomers need support to fight gravity.

Brenda: Get sized for your bra. Go to the salesperson and ask her to size you. People don’t realize the life of a bra is six months—old bras won’t support you.

Lissa: If your first instinct is it’s too short—it probably is.

Jackie: I tell my clients to go for color. Don’t always get stuck on black for evening. When we get older our skin tone changes, and we need that boost of color.

Tatyana: Have one sexy thing. Don’t have big high shoes paired with a short skirt.


Any other beauty advice for boomers?

Brenda: Switch your hair stylist or be open to a new look every three to five years. If your stylist isn’t willing to update your look, you need to find a new one. Also, you’ll look better when you color your hair slightly lighter than it was in your 20s and 30s.

Lissa: When you’re getting wrinkles, make-up that’s overdone ends up looking theatrical.

Tatyana: Avoid the dark lip liner.

Kelly: Invest in an eyebrow professional.

Lissa: Posture is so big. It lifts you up and changes how people see you and how you see yourself.

Kelly: Have a full-length mirror. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have one. I have a client who gets up on her bed to look at herself full-length—it’s ridiculous.


A lot of women feel like giving up because they can’t find great-looking clothes cut for over-40 bodies. What do they do?

Brenda: Ask for help. Form a relationship with a stylist. Bridge designers like Lafayette 148 are cut for a woman’s body. That’s what a bridge line is: a woman’s cut.

Kelly: Just embrace it. It’s empowering when you don’t get hung up on size.

Brenda: Everybody needs a good tailor. Even if your body type works with one designer—if you know that you can get a size eight from Armani and it’s perfect—you still need a tailor. It drives me crazy that people won’t spend the $12 to get a perfect fit.

Jackie: When you are a certain age, fashion is all about fit.

Brenda: Certain bridge collections like Peter Cohen design for women who could be 40 to 80. He builds a piece to the client’s body type. Maybe an inch in the bust or a little extra in the arms—it takes three weeks extra, but we like lines like that.

Kelly: Manufacturers are cutting to order now, so you can do things like elongate a shirt to fit your clients. So be sure to ask if it can be customized.


Many of our readers have overflowing closets. Any advice on winnowing them down?

Lissa: When we go through clients’ closets, there are so many things they haven’t worn for years, things that they’re holding onto for sentimental reasons. Or stuff they’re going to fit into some day. When you look in your closet you should feel like everything there is something that you would feel good about yourself in.

Jackie: I always tell my clients it’s stressful to keep sizes that no longer fit. And the mess is also stress. I work with that individual to either take it to a tailor who can fix what’s wrong with it, or help them realize they should either donate it or consign it.

Brenda: If you’re not in a rush, we recommend turning all the hangers in your closet the opposite way from the way you normally hang them. Then each time you wear something, put it back into your closet the right way. At the end of six months you should get rid of anything that you have not worn.


How do personal stylists work? Is it expensive?

Jackie: I charge $75 an hour for personal styling. People come to me because they are stuck in a style rut or at a pivotal point in their lives. Maybe they’ve gotten divorced at age 50 and they don’t know how to get back into the dating scene. Or there’s a special event coming up. I break it down for them step by step by step. The final step is going out shopping and helping them put it all together. We go to local stores that fit their budget, whether it’s TJ Maxx and Target or Saks and the Met.

Kelly: I’ve been coming down here every two months since I left Sarasota, and I do private shows at the Ritz and work with clients. I ran into one of my clients yesterday. She got a little teary-eyed, and said, “You helped me relearn my body and know how to dress it—and how to look and feel beautiful.”

Brenda: We have personal shoppers at the Met. You can make an appointment in the store or we charge $125 an hour to go to the home. We have a whole process we go through. We ask you to sort your closet by color—all the blacks need to be together so you see you have 20 pairs of black pants. We also ask you to sort by the last time you wore something—six months or a year. And if you don’t want to get rid of anything, we do the hanger thing. Typically the fee is deducted from purchases.


What are the essentials of a good wardrobe?

Lissa: I try to get my clients to focus on buying the five basic things that they need—and I make sure all those pieces will look great every time they put them on.

Brenda: A classic white shirt is one of those basics. It needs to be replaced every season so it looks crisp and white.

Tatyana: Jeans are a basic. They need to be dark to be up to date, and they should have some stretch. The jeans shouldn’t be high in the waist like that brand Not Your Daughter’s Jeans; that dates you instantly.

Brenda: Piece No. 3 is a dark blazer.

Jackie: Fourth is a piece of statement jewelry.

Lissa: And then, of course, a good handbag and shoes.

Brenda: I think you need a good chino pant. A white shirt and chinos with a cashmere sweater, whether you wear it with the blouse or over your shoulder, are great basics.


Lissa: Khaki pants without pleats—that’s really important. Pleated pants date you; they bunch you up. If they’re not pleated they slim you and flatten the stomach.

Kelly: I like to add a scarf. I’m a big scarf girl, and I also love statement jewelry.


So you’re all going for statement pieces with good basics?

Lissa: Buy basics in the best quality you can afford. And for trends, you can go cheaper. Old Navy, H&M and Target have some good trends. And don’t buy a printed dress if you don’t have a ton of money.

Kelly: My No. 1 client buys all her T-shirts at Target. But she’ll spend $10,000 on luxury brands without batting an eye.

Jackie: Choose neutral tones when you’re going with your suits. Add the pop of color for the blouse or shoes.

Tatyana: A lot of older women can’t wear high heels any more. Designers I carry like Paul Mayer will give them that look of an oxford pump or a spectator heel they used to wear, but it’s now in a comfortable flat. Or try kitten heels. Now that Michelle [Obama] has worn them, I sell them like crazy. They look good on everyone.

Kelly: Just that tiny heel helps your posture and the way you walk—the way you carry yourself. It’s much better than with a flat. Another tip is you need a nude shoe in your wardrobe: It elongates the leg.


What should every woman understand about style?

Jackie: Less is more. It should all look effortless. And as you get older it’s so important to have good-quality fabrics. It’s all about how the fabrics fit your body. There’s a big difference between buying a T-shirt at Old Navy and buying a T-shirt at Jane Boutique or whatever. The draping, the fabric, it just fits better.

Lissa: You don’t always want to look like you’re going to a photo shoot. Effortlessness and confidence are huge.

Kelly: I am never uncomfortable in what I’m wearing. If you don’t have that sense of style, work with someone who can help you. Don’t take it so seriously. Have fun with it.

Brenda: It shouldn’t be torturous. Think of style as a means of self-expression.

Lissa: Fashion is one aspect, but beauty is huge: the right make-up, the right haircut, eating better, the right workout. If you have to get plastic surgery, do it tastefully. There are so many things you can do to look better and get more confidence.

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