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Tips From Orange County Style Experts

Michael Renzi

Designer and president of Renzi Custom Gallery in Newport Beach, a custom clothier specializing in men’s wardrobes, and president of the Custom Tailors and Designers Assn. in New York City:

For Renzi, the first sign that a man is locked into a style is: “He wakes up in the morning and has no enthusiasm when he looks in his closet. Everything’s boring and mundane. Nothing sparkles or sizzles.”

A boring wardrobe is often caused by one’s failure to keep on top of trends, Renzi says.

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“It’s a low priority on a man’s list. He dresses because he has to,” he says. “He wears the same outfit year after year. There’s no threat or thought process. It’s the same dark suit, white shirt and eight to 10 ties that are his favorites.”

Men who lack fashion know-how can find help in updating their look. Renzi Custom Gallery and other menswear stores offer wardrobe consulting, often at no cost, in which a consultant surveys a client’s closet and helps him revamp his wardrobe.

“Frankly I don’t know if we’ll ever get men to think a lot about clothes, but they still want to get compliments,” Renzi says. Wardrobe consultants “can help them jump out of bed with a little more pep.”

Kitty Leslie

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A Laguna Niguel fashion consultant who oversees numerous fashion shows in Orange County:

Playing it safe by returning to the same styles over and over is a common affliction, according to Leslie.

“People will wear--and I’m as guilty as anybody--the same color all the time. Go into your closet. If everything’s navy or beige, you’re in a fashion rut,” she says.

Often the clothes are not only the same color, they’re the same design. Some women, for instance, cling to “the little boy look.” Their closets are filled with tailored jackets and other menswear-inspired looks.

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Leslie herself confesses to being “stuck in a kind of preppy look. Everything was blazers and tailored pants.” She tried experimenting with the Western look and, after trying out silver conch belts and cowboy boots, found she liked the change.

“The way to change is to take your second most favorite look and try it,” she says.

Those unsure which fashion direction to take can find help from a knowledgeable salesperson at a favorite clothing store.

“Put yourself in their hands and say, ‘I’m in a rut. I’m wearing nothing but beige tailored clothes,’ ” Leslie suggests. He or she “can say, ‘Why not try a softer look?’ Some of the best advice I’ve had comes from good salespeople.”

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The ideal time to experiment with a new style is when you’re in an upbeat mood, she says.

“It starts with confidence. You might have a new hairdo you love, so head to your favorite department store and try things on,” Leslie says. “Don’t attempt (a change) on a bad day.”

Jose Eber

Owner of the Jose Eber Salon in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and celebrity stylist:

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Eber knows he’s not exactly the poster child for change. He’s worn the same hairstyle--a long braid down the back topped with a cowboy hat--for more than 10 years.

“It’s my trademark. It’s almost like Samson. The day I chop it off I fear I’ll freak out,” he says. “I don’t use myself as an example for change.”

Those lucky enough to find a classic hairstyle that can last a decade or longer are usually the exception. Most people need to periodically change their hairstyles or look dated.

“Some think the hairstyle they wore at a younger age will keep them looking their best,” Eber says. “But decades go by, and the style becomes aging.”

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In the ‘60s, for example, a lot of women wore bleached blond hair that was very stiff from a lot of teasing.

“Ten years later, some women were still wearing the same hairstyle,” Eber says. “They think, ‘That’s the way I looked when I looked my best, when I found my sweetheart.’ ”

Those who have changed to today’s softer, natural hairstyles “look better today than 20 years ago.”

To avoid having outdated hair, “know what’s going on in the fashion and beauty world,” Eber says.

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He advises finding a trusted stylist and trying out a new cut or color.

“Hair grows. Know that it’s not permanent. At least give it a chance,” he says. “Ninety percent of the time, you’ll prefer the change.”

Dianna Pfaff-Martin

Newport Beach image consultant and owner of California Image Advisors:

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When Pfaff-Martin opens her clients’ closets to study their wardrobe, she’s often sees racks of clothes in similar styles, fabrics and prints. People get accustomed to shopping the same stores and buying the same outfits over and over, she says.

To her, it’s kind of crazy.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results,” she says.

People get stuck on certain styles for psychological reasons, Pfaff-Martin says. They associate the styles “with a time in their lives when they were happy or felt the most beautiful. That’s why you’ll see a woman wearing a short miniskirt who shouldn’t be.”

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She guides clients out of their fashion time warps by getting them to try on new looks.

“There’s a lot of hand-holding. It’s a matter of leading the client to something different,” she says.

Women, for instance, tend to favor pink hues and dainty prints. She steers them to strong, solid colors for a more sophisticated look. Men often wear favorite ties long after they’re out of vogue. She encourages them to trade in ties with, say, big floral prints for the more updated small geometrics. Usually a change will result in compliments, and the client will be convinced.

“We’re a very visual society,” says Pfaff-Martin, who tells clients that a sharp appearance is crucial to their careers. “Those who don’t change will really be stuck in a rut.”

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