Flair had the amazing fortune of interviewing Melissa Rivers of Fashion Police and The Celebrity Apprentice fame, author of Red Carpet Ready and best daily fashion deal decider (aka Editor in Chief) of Shoparatti.com, as well as Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of The Essentials of Fabulous, Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore to find out which fashion rules are in full effect and which can be broken.

Flair: Our moms have told us for years that sheer panty hose finish the look, hide blemishes and take us through the pastiness of winter, yet most of us ban wearing them, what do you think?

Melissa: They are no longer necessary, but in some corporate situations they are still part of the uniform. It’s a case by case decision. We may be seeing a comeback of panty hose because Kate Middleton is known to wear them.

Ellen: You need to wear panty hose to work, it is not appropriate to go to the office without hose. Yet I believe you can wear nude fishnet to the office. Try a pair of matte black, brown or navy tights – they create a monochromatic look that is very slimming.

Flair: Since we’re talking about legs, today’s women are in better shape and have the personality to wear youthful trends, are we allowed to show our knees after 40?

Melissa: It depends on your legs. Be appropriate to your body and the event. It’s OK to wear shorts and skirts if they are appropriate for your body. Women are savvy – we know our bodies and what looks good. It wouldn’t be appropriate for a 20-year-old to wear short clothes if they don’t look good on her legs.

Flair: What fashion mishaps have you learned from the red carpet and life?

Melissa:  it is all about fit and proper foundation garments – for every outfit! Both can change the look from awful to fabulous. Spanx are for everyone, even if you are skinny. Make sure to pack the exact undergarments for the proper pants. You will regret it if you don’t.

Melissa: You never want an unintentional bra strap showing, this is one of my pet peeves. There are so many choices (strapless, clear straps, single strap). It’s a lack of effort if a nude strap is showing. However, it is OK for some color popping out, if this is the message you want to send. It is never OK in a corporate setting.

Ellen: Great undergarments are a necessity – you need lift, a thong (especially at the gym!) and bottoms that you don’t need to tug each day.


Flair: What is your favorite timeless piece?

Ellen: My go-to every season is a crisp, white shirt. It illuminates your face and you can wear it millions of ways: pearls, broach at the neck, scarf. By the way, it’s OK to repeat your clothes. Europeans wear their clothes to death. They wear the same black pants on Monday and Friday. They don’t stick to a two-week rotation. This approach prevents consumers from buying too many pieces.

Flair:  What is your signature style?

Melissa: If I’m not comfortable in a style, then it’s not working. Clothes are all relative. I will mix hi-end and low priced pieces all the time. My favorite tank tops are bought in a multi-pack at Costco, which I will wear with a vintage Chanel jacket from my mom’s closet and a pair of $15 pants from Express.

Melissa: I love great shoes. Four inch heels are not comfortable, but worth it because they make your legs look terrific.

Ellen: Clothes are a message we give others. Let them be an uplifting aspect of your day because how you put yourself together is how you people gravitate to you.  I am a preppy with a twist; I add a funkier, bohemian edge, such as a tweed skirt with big pleats, a fitted vest with a shirt underneath. I like to make myself into a character. Clothes give me confidence to do my day to day in a more approachable way.

Flair: In regard to wearing trends, isn’t it a smarter decision to wear only what looks good on you, instead of what is “In”?

Melissa: Know the essence of the trend; you can’t wear it head to toe and you don’t need to redo your wardrobe. One piece of a trend goes a long way in making your outfit. Beware of what you see in magazines. That’s not real life.

Ellen: Every season a new color and silhouette are big. I will buy a piece in one of the colors if it looks good on me or I’ll add one or two pieces, but I won’t adapt my style to the trends.

Flair: When coordinating accessories – should shoes, belts and purses match?

Ellen: No, it’s mumsy and old fashion to match your handbag to shoes. It’s far easier not to change out your hand bag each day. But I do like when your belt matches your shoe.

Flair: We know it’s fine to mix metals, but what is your feel on mixing costume jewelry with generational pieces?

Ellen: I say mix it all: junk, costume, ethnic and real.  Ethnic jewelry can be used to pull an outfit together and make it much more exciting, more of an original look. I am known for mixing flea market finds with an anniversary gift from my husband.  Be Fearless – allow yourself to stand out.

Flair: Can we mix plaids with plaids, animal prints with animal print?

Ellen: I will mix plaids if there is one similar color that will pull it all together. The size of plaids should be different. Only one can be bold and large. Others need to be of a smaller scale or avoided.

Flair: I find the conversation around wearing faux and real fur to be a political and social-economic decision, it’s only OK if you are comfortable in either, do you agree?

Melissa: I’m all about faux fur. Read the label. There are amazing pieces to pick from to make you comfortable participating in the trend (spoken as a true PETA spokesperson).

Flair: What are your personal fashion pet peeves?

Melissa: Doesn’t wear labels head to toe.

Ellen: Never wear itchy, you will be uncomfortable all day. Don’t wear big gold earrings, it is too Vegas.

Flair: Tell us some life-learned fashion advice:

Melissa: My Godfather’s motto is “Weep Once”, meaning, don’t spend money on the trends. If you buy quality, it’s worth the investment. Wear jeans and pants that look good on you, regardless if expensive or cheap. And once you find them, buy multiple pairs.

Melissa: You can tell when someone loves what they are wearing or if they are shoved into it by a stylist, if you are uncomfortable (discomfort and dislike) it’s going to show.

Ellen: You will never diet your way into pants – Walk Away!

Flair: Fashion rules that apply due to event or venue:

  • Shoulders need to be covered in cathedrals
  • White should be avoided at weddings – except for the bride
  • Understated dark colors are still the best for a funeral

Flair: Fashion rules to break:

  • Red heads can wear red
  • Blondes can wear yellow
  • White pants can be worn year around (just dress the rest of your body to the season).
  • Black, brown and navy can all be worn in the same outfit
  • Gold and silver jewelry look terrific when mixed together

Flair Recap: I hope you all enjoy these refreshers as much as I enjoyed speaking with Melissa and Ellen. Remember, it’s all about taking risks and creating your own personal style…regardless of the traditional rules. Spend more on good quality jeans, handbags, and shoes as they can really make or break your overall look. Don’t overspend on trendy pieces that won’t have lasting power in your closet. Finally, style is about what looks good on you – not just your body but your personality.

Courageously be the best you… with a swagger, a smile and Flair!