For 25 years, style consultant George Brescia has worked with top fashion and beauty leaders including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as the fashion directors at Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor. As a top-tier stylist and the man behind George B Style, his clients range from Broadway stars to everyday men and women looking to improve their appearance. In his new book, Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life: Because You Can't Go Naked (Simon & Schuster), George shares his secrets for dressing up to uncover the person you are and the potential you possess.
ES: George, there are a zillion stylebooks out there. Why do we need another?
GB: This book is different. It isn't just a stylebook. It's a book that empowers. Since the law requires clothing, you might as well have your clothes say exactly what you want them to say. I show you how to assemble a wardrobe that commands the world to see you the way you deserve to be seen.
ES: That seems like you're investing clothing with a lot of power.
GB: Clothing is powerful. It has a secret language -- our clothes speak before we do.
When someone sees how we're dressed, they fill in the story of who we are and what we do for a living. What we're wearing can invite respect or contempt. In the book, I teach you what colors and silhouettes best suit you and where different styles are appropriate.
ES: I wouldn't even know where to start.
GB:The book guides you, step by step. It takes you through the process of clearing out your wardrobe so that you only have a closet full of 10s.
GB: Yes. We all have some 10s in our wardrobe -- and we know what they are. We pull them out when the stakes are high; when we have an important date or a job interview. By getting rid of things that come nowhere near a 10, and beginning anew with some basic garments that fit and flatter, you'll always be prepared. Since you never know what important moments any day will bring, you should have the tools that empower you to take on whatever opportunities come your way.
ES: And once you have the basics, how do you proceed from there? I think that's where most people get overwhelmed.
GB: There are all kinds of ways to augment your basics, whether by mixing and matching, introducing a colorful new garment, or dressing your outfit up or down with the perfect accessories. I encourage you to keep a journal of what you need to fill-in your wardrobe so that your shopping trips are much more focused and less overwhelming.
ES: What about trends?
GB: Clients are always asking me, "Which new looks should I choose?" The answer is simple: Choose the ones that look good on you. Trends come and go, but you're here to stay. Once you know what you look good in, you'll know which trends to go after. The compliment you want to hear is not, "I love that jacket," but "That jacket looks great on you!"
ES: In the book, you talk a lot about how our clothes influence our emotions.
GB: Whether we realize it or not, we have a deep connection with our clothing and what it symbolizes.
I had a woman who was completely overwhelmed by her wardrobe. She owned her own company but her business was mediocre. Her boyfriend would take her to different events and it would freak her out. She never knew what to wear.
We'd consult about what she should wear for different presentations and meetings and she began to feel powerful. Since she felt powerful, people started to see her that way. Her business boomed and her boyfriend proposed.
One night, she called me from a Broadway show during intermission. A gentleman had come up to her and said, "It's so lovely to see glamour back in the theater." She started crying on the phone. Nobody had ever used that word in a sentence about her.
I dress all kinds of people -- from Broadway stars to CEOs to soccer moms -- and everyone just wants to feel and look great. No matter who you are, when you decide each morning what you want to say to the world, you're making the decision to be present in your life. You're setting an intention about what you want out of your day -- which turns into your week, your month, your year, your life.