Category Archives: how to

Ask a Stylist: Your Questions Answered

Issue #1. Now on Thursdays you can expect answers to your burning style questions. Want help from an expert? Send your fashion conundrums my way!

Q: When do you actually have to listen to “dry clean only” labels, and when can you ignore them and home wash instead?  Courtney in Seattle.

A: Dear Courtney, excellent question. So many brands put the dreaded “dry clean only” label on clothes just because they don’t want to be at fault if something happens in the wash. You really want to be aware of fabrics that shrink when exposed to water. That’s why dry cleaning works, it’s “washed” in a solution that doesn’t contain water. Dry cleaning clothes is mostly bad for the planet using harsh chemicals that are also bad for you and your garment.

I try to avoid dry cleaning everything I can, but not everything can be gently washed and line dried. Most Rayon, Tencel, Viscose, polyester, cotton, wool, and linen is OK to wash.  Silks, mixed wovens or knits are where it can be tricky. Silk Chiffon cannot be washed. If a fabric contains say 30% silk 30% linen 30% cotton and 10% rayon, all of these separate materials shrink up at different rates in water, so sometimes you end up with a warbled item that doesn’t lie flat, or the seams aren’t lying where they are supposed to. If you can test a small corner  in water, try that. I prefer washing my whites, otherwise they come back looking a little dingy in my experience. And if I have a stain, OxyClean is my miracle soaking solution. Anything with intricate lining or structure, like jackets and suiting are best cleaned by a professional. But sometimes wool slacks are ok to be washed.

Knits are usually OK as long as they aren’t silk. I love DVF silk knit dresses. I might have them professionally cleaned for the first 5 wears, then I’ll try a gentle wash. As long as the colors don’t run, you’re ok. But the problem is you don’t know if the colors will run. The nice silk sheen is usually gone, but sometimes that’s ok. In my experience a lot of knits that call for “dry cleaning only” are fine in the wash. Just protect each garment from each other, wash in cold water, super gentle cycle, and line dry. Good Luck!

Q: How do i downplay broad shoulders? is that an obnoxious question? i feel like delicate feminine things always look silly on my linebacker shoulders. Liz in New York.

A: Dear Liz, I seriously doubt your shoulders resemble a line-backer, but there are several ways to appear less broad and more feminine. First off you want to choose clothing that doesn’t accentuate your shoulders. Just how do you do that?

  • Create volume on the bottom to even out the width up top, creating the hourglass illusion.
  • Draw the eye down with a light colored bottom and a dark top.
  • The same illusion can be created with a full skirt and a slim top.
  • Avoid high neck and narrow neck tops. Spaghetti straps also accentuate broadness and should be avoided.
  • Halter tops can be very flattering and accentuate your gorgeous shoulders as long as it also has an open V-neck.
  • And stay far far away from anything that adds width like cap sleeves, or details on the shoulders like embellishments or lace.
  • Strapless tops look surprising great because it mimics the line of your shoulders, and like an equals (=) sign, parallel lines cancel each other out, eliminating emphasis. Emphasizing cleavage helps too.
  • V-neck and U-neck tops are best. Creating a V with the eye using a long necklace also works.
  • Stay away from boat-necks and wide necklines, as they only accentuate. So do turtle-necks, and anything with a high neck.
  • Also avoid tops and jackets with seams above the bust-line, adding width.
  • Look for tops with rounded shoulders. Raglan and dolman sleeves soften without adding bulk. Just make sure a dolman cut top or dress isn’t also bulky.

I hope you learn to love your shoulders with a few of these styling tricks!

What to Wear:

What to Avoid: 

Want more? Post your feedback in the comments section.

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Elevate Your Wardrobe: 10 Seasonless Essentials

Every wardrobe is a unique selection. Depending on when the last time you shopped for yourself, there may be more missing than present from my list in your current closet. With every change of season I like to evaluate what I’ve got hanging and stuffed away in drawers.

No matter what season we’re going into (HELLO Spring) I find that these ten essentials are always in heavy rotation. Make your wardrobe work for you. Adding these may not eliminate the dreaded “what will I wear today” conundrum, but by filling in the gaps you’ll have more options to wear your potentially random favorites.

  1. Slim Cropped Pants. Endlessly versatile. Pair them with a simple top or chic tunic. I own several in a neutral palate and in fun prints. The best part is they look great with sandals, pointy flats, wedges and even pumps. No need to worry about length since they’re cropped! Vince makes a great pair, along with J.Crew for endless patterned variations. I like these to hit either just above the ankle, or a few inches above that, not at the calf!
  2. Long Sleeve Silk Blouse. Sumptuous silk adds textural interest and it’s softly pretty. An excellent partner with jeans, knits, and boucle separates. A little bit on the longer side, and they glide (as opposed to cling) over my belly.  A little bit fun, elegant and very comfortable. Sure you could go for black or cream, but why not olive green, or emerald? Perhaps bright crimson or blush pink. Whatever your color it’ll be your go-to no matter the weather.
  3. Classic Belted Trench Jacket or Coat. This doesn’t have to mean a Burberry, or something expensive. I own a bright blue one in nylon, perfect when you need a light jacket to repel a few rain drops, or in cotton poplin with a removable wool liner. It’s a classic for a reason, it’s timeless and always chic.
  4. Long tanks. To fill in the gaps, and keep the tummy from being exposed. H&M makes great ones in pima cotton and tencel. I also love the cut of the ribbed tank by Vince. Make sure you have them in all the basic colors (black, white, nude) plus a fun bright color or two.
  5. Pencil Skirt. In navy or black, this is the one silhouette that really does flatter every shape. If you’ve got curves, whatch out for the va va voom factor. This is YOUR skirt. If you’re cut more like a boy it’ll give you shape where you need it. In woven wool, ponté knit or double lined jersey it’ll be your go-to skirt to pair with whatever you plan on wearing on top. Even a basic pocket tee looks chic paired with a pencil skirt.
  6. Tailored Body-skimming Dress. A body con sheath, either a high neck, v-neck or U-neck works. Choose a knit if you’re ok being a bit more revealing. Otherwise aim for a woven in cotton, wool, or silk for dress that works for nearly any occasion. It’s such a go-to for me I own them in all colors. Even better, this baby works hard for you especially when traveling, and they pack up small. It looks chic, is versatile, and best of all, I feel confident wearing one.
  7. Three-quarter sleeve Cardigan. This is your personal climate control top. Too cold, throw it on. Too hot, strip it off. I love these in linen, cotton, or yummy silk & cashmere blends. Chunky or thin, There’s something magical and very feminine about 3/4 tops. And an excuse to wear your arm bangles without getting in the way of your sleeves.
  8. Crisp White Shirt. All you have to do is look at Carolina Herrera. It’s her uniform when paired with a full skirt. She has made this basic iconic as has Lauren Hutton. A white button-down, wrap style, or popover all work as long as it’s crisp and fresh. Look for tops in poplin or silk shantung. There’s a freshness that white brings to an outfit and can easily be matched with everything else in your closet.
  9. V-necks in Cotton & Cashmere. Tees, fitted sweaters, drapey shirts, they all look great and are so versatile. Layered or on their own, these are the hard working separates you love to wear. My favorites are from Vince and J.Crew, but you can score these basics anywhere from H&M to Neiman Marcus too.
  10. Nude Shoes. Footwear that’s a shade close to your skin tone elongates your look, and can be worn with ANYTHING. Really. So slimming, and the nude look is hot right now. A monochromatic look is always more slimming than wearing two distinct opposite hues that chop you visually and shorten your look. Take a selfie and you tell me which is more slimming.

Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments.

Go Kailua Style

Beyond thrilled to be a featured personal stylist in the current Go Kailua magazine. I shopped Kailua and selected this outfit from three of my favorite shops in Kailua. Olive Boutique, Oliver Men’s Shop, and Fighting Eel.

Everything I picked is versatile. A men’s chambray shirt works for so many occasions, and it’s durable too. In Hawaii it’s a perfect light jacket for cool days. My gorgeous model Maisa sports the classic M.Nii drowners shorts, rolled up and a little bit sexy. No matter where your day takes you, you’ll be prepared, you can even swim in these trunks.

Ladies, don’t be be afraid of shopping in the men’s section! I promise you won’t look butch if you style these pieces in a feminine way. Add feminine details like this chunky coral (plastic) necklace and some gold bangles and glitzy bag and you’re good to go.

Special thanks to Sarah Honda at Honolulu Magazine, Go Kailua magazine for featuring me!

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5 ideas to make your wedding rock

Recently I was asked to help coordinate a friend’s wedding. While very exciting, it’s an obviously overwhelming task for many brides. I’m so glad she asked for my help.

Here are some thoughts on how to keep it simple, and why you’ll be so much happier for it.

  1. Don’t be lured into DIY hell. With Pinterest and DIY craft magazines galore showing you just how “easy” it is to make everything for your day of, is it something you really want to do? You’re probably having friends and family from out of town visit for your big day, and the 24-48 hours before your event do you really want to be stressing out if all your special handwritten quotes are elegantly wrapped around each table setting? The thought is lovely, and I’m sure there will be a handful of people who will be delighted to unwrap their unique setting, but that extra stress isn’t worth it if you’re doing it all yourself. Instead sip cocktails by the pool and enjoy the friends and family you rarely get to be with.
  2. Comfort first, for you and your guests. Will you want to walk all night in those satin heels? Will your guests be warm enough once the sun sets? Are there enough places to sit before dinner is served? Is the setting inviting? Are the toilets easily accessible? Does the layout promote laughter among strangers. Will your guests feel comfortable if they don’t know anyone but you and their plus one? Small steps like providing guests blankets, fans, appropriate seating, and a welcoming ambiance go a long way to make sure everyone remembers what a fun party it was.
  3. Delicious goes a long way. Ok so you’re budget isn’t French chef worthy, that’s ok. Don’t try to do too much within a limited budget. Think about what’s really important to you. Would you rather serve special drinks or yummy champagne instead of a 3 course meal? No problem, select heavy pupus (appetizers) instead. No food budget? Thats ok, how about just cake and champagne? Or maybe having a live band is how you’d rather focus your funds. Whatever you serve, just be true to your intentions. Your guests are bound to have fun and leave with satisfied tastebuds.
  4. Logistics matter. The devil is in the details of the event, not the decor. Where will guests park? Does it make sense for folks to drive between the ceremony & reception if they’re not at the same place, or does a shuttle make more sense? Think through the timeline too. Add an extra 30mins at least to every activity to make sure you don’t rush the event. Welcoming guests, champagne toast, eating, cake cutting, dancing, everything takes longer than you think…unless you’re an experienced planner.
  5.  Take pictures before the ceremony, not after. Save your guests from that awkward 2 hour window where the whole bridal party is MIA from the post ceremony bash. You’ve got everyone together, so enjoy it. Either skip the posed picture setting and just hire a day-of event photographer, or do those posed shots the morning of. Save yourself a preventable headache.

Shop like a Pro

No matter what your reason for shopping is, having a plan is paramount. Yes you can wander and look through all the sparkly things. But being mindful and using some of my tips might improve your “game”. If you think of those lists like the 10 habits of highly successful people, here are my 10 tips for shopping like a pro. Enjoy.

  1. Shop with a list. Before you ever enter a store or go online, know what you need. And that’s your list. Need a great wear with everything black jacket? Write it down. Only when you know what you need to add to your collection will you truly start to build a great wardrobe.
  2. Don’t get distracted by sales. Yes we all can get distracted by flash sales or deep discounts. But if that Marc Jacobs jacket is bright orange and goes with nothing in your closet, does it matter that it’s 75% off? We all love bargains, but I believe in the price per wear method to track how much something really costs you. If you buy a $500 coat, but wear it everyday 3 seasons (90 days x 3 years = 270 and divide $500 by 270 wears) that’s just $1.85 per wear, a pretty good investment. But a $65 pair of heels you wear 3 times, that’s over $20 per wear. It’s best to know what you want before it goes on sale, that way you know what you want and can spot it in the messy sale rack.
  3. Make friends your shop girl/guy. Shop often, try on what you like when it’s merchandised properly, not shoved into a big messy rack. When you find that leather jacket you have to have, wait for it to go on sale. If you are a loyal customer chances are your shop girl or guy working on commission will gladly put it aside for you when it gets marked down. If they are really good they’ll even let you know when your favorite designers have special trunk shows and events too.
  4. Shop alone. Shopping with your best friend isn’t as helpful as you might think. With your list in hand, you’re less distracted and can focus on the task at hand. Boots? check. Black jacket? check. You get the idea. Second opinions are helpful, but unless that other opinions is from a stylist or someone’s style you love, it’s not really that helpful.
  5. Find designers that work for you and stick to them. Once you find clothes that work for your body and lifestyle why go elsewhere? If Hudson denim has never worked for you, why keep trying? I know I wear a size 30 in Habitual denim and I love their Alice fit. So anytime I’m out shopping and see that same pant in another color or fabrication I already know it’s going to work for me. Having too many options can be overwhelming, even for the venerable shoppers. So stick to what you know works. kHave a hard time remembering what size you are in what pieces? Write them down and keep them in a note on your phone.
  6. Get the basics at H&M, Uniqlo, or Zara. Don’t waste your $$ buying 50 dollar white tees. Yes they may feel amazing, but some of my best tanks have come from H&M. And I don’t have cry when I the pits go yellow. With an endless variety of styles and colors tees, tanks, and jersey dresses that so little you can buy 5 at a time.
  7. Shop online. With speedy deliveries, online reviews, and instant price comparisons shopping online just keeps getting better. Scour online shops like Gilt and Hautelook for deep discounts on your favorite designers. I love the variety and online lookbooks places like Shopbop.com create making shopping for new trends easy. It’s hard to beat hassle-free shopping in your pajamas at 12am either.
  8. Demand great service. Politely of course. If something doesn’t perform like it should i.e. pilling profusely, a button falling off, or a seam ripping, ask that it be fixed or replaced. Here’s where making friends with your shop girl can really come in handy. You invest time and money into your wardrobe, make sure it works for you, and if it doesn’t take it back.
  9. Comfort isn’t the only thing to consider. When considering a new dress, pants, and especially shoes comfort is important. You want to be able to sit easily, walk for miles if you have to, but it shouldn’t be your only consideration when determining what to buy. If we only depended on things being comfortable we’d all be wearing our hideous velour sweatsuits (thanks Juicy Couture!).
  10. Know when to ask a pro for help. We’re all not the best at everything, and one of the greatest skills is knowing when to ask others for help.

Become Friends with your Wardrobe: Anatomy of a closet audit

On a previous trip to Portland, a dear friend needed my help. Lisa had her first child Carson, changed jobs, moved into a new house, and didn’t have anything to wear. Before we could go shopping we needed to know what she had and what was missing.

Having a plan for what you need and filling in the gaps can be one of the most helpful things I do for my clients. Here I break down my closet clean / audit process.

Lisa’s closet BEFORE

Lisa’s style is organized, clean, and pretty. So there was no reason her closet had to be a cluttered mess. She has less time now that she has Carson, so we needed to make her closet work harder for her. Plastic makes me cringe, and I recommended hangers that are slim and felt lined. More space in any closet is a good thing, so replacing your old hangers actually makes a bigger difference than you might expect. After our session Lisa replaced her hangers.

Step 1: Remove Everything. 

The only way to really see what you have is to remove it from the dark corners of your wardrobe. A rolling rack makes sorting easier. Like so many of us Lisa was holding on to outfits from her previous life: those college days. Crop tops, short mini skirts, and bias cut polyester skirts. Yes you can get rid of the 90s in your closet.

Step 2: Decide What to Toss vs. What to Keep.

So how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?

  1. Is it stained? Have holes? Pilling obscenely? If yes, toss.
  2. Does it fit? If no, toss. If yes, move on to #3.
  3. Is it in fashion? If no toss. If yes, move on to #4.
  4. Do you even like it? Do you feel good wearing it? If no, toss. If yes, move on to #5.
  5. Does it flatter your figure/shape? If no, toss. If yes, keep.

Of course when I say toss, I mean donate unless it’s truly rag worthy. Also why not turn your castaways into cash? Check out a Buffalo ExchangeCrossroads or a consignment store near you. Not quite sure how you feel about something? Put it aside (outside of your closet) and reevaluate it in 6 mos. Just don’t forget about it, so put it in your calendar as a to do.

Step 3: Organize. Hang according to type and color.

You really want to make it appealing to get dressed each day. Think of it as visual merchandising your closet. How much more fun is getting dressed each day? I find the best system for organizing a wardrobe is first by type, occasion, and then by color. For instance, just because a sports hoodie is red, doesn’t mean it should hang next to a red silk top you’d only wear out to dinner. Depending on your closet layout space, I hang everything left to right. First tanks, tees, blouses, sweaters, jackets, skirts, pants, then dresses.  Actually sweaters should really be folded, but you get the idea. Coats should have their own hanging space, closer to your front door. Then colorize within each group. White, cream, gray, yellow, red, blue, purple, black you get the idea. If you own 5 aqua tops, you’ll realize with this system that you may not need to buy any more blouses in that color.

Step 4: Shop your closet for new outfits. Discover what you already have.

Once we made more space to see all that Lisa had, we found some great pieces. She needed help creating outfits with some of her patterned dresses and skirts, so that’s what we took pictures of. And I find color coding a closet also helps you “see” what colors work together. That way you can grab a tank then sweater then pant that all works together.

Step 5: Decide what’s missing and fill in the gaps. 

It’s easy to get distracted by flash sales then often end up with a closet full of mismatched items. That’s why we make a list. There were some obvious holes in her wardrobe. She needed some pieces with more of an edge as well. Versatility in what we were going to shop for was key. Her list included black & brown booties with a midsize heel, tunics she could layer over leggings, mid-rise skinny jeans, silk tops to layer over, sweater coats, and a great leather jacket. Never diligent enough to shop at a place like Buffalo Exchange alone, it’s my favorite go-to for great basics and one-of-kind wardrobe go-tos. Her outcasts get a new life, and she got credit to shop. It’s a win-win.

Start 2014 off right with a closet audit. Contact me to schedule an appointment today.

One dress 3 ways: Style Exchange preview

Simple layering with a few key basics is the starting blocks to a great wardrobe. I took a basic A-line H&M patterned dress as an example to illustrate how you can take one item and create 3 very different looks with it. All items are for sale and available at our next Style Exchange happening tomorrow at R/D in Kakaako, 2-5pm. How you can join us!

Add a sweater and a brass necklace. Joie gray linen sweater $24. Brass beaded necklace $10.

Robert Rodriguez aqua open-weave sweater $22. Blue beaded necklace $22.

Add a jacket. Rachel by Rachel Roy tie waist jacket with pockets $28.

Cashmere for the mouth: My Mother’s Flan

My mother spent some of her formative years abroad in Bolivia and Costa Rica before moving to Hawaii in 1967. With that time in South America she spoke Spanish tasted authentic Spanish influences including flan. One thing my mother was always good at has been baking. Her creative endeavors didn’t end at the canvas, she has quite the knack for anything elaborate, chocolate, and above all heavenly on the tongue. Anything custard holds an especially dear place in my heart for sweets, long johns anyone? I don’t recall the first time I ate my mother’s flan, but every time we ate out and ordered flan, my mother would always say hers was better.

Around the house when I was young it was a common sight to have dessert for dinner. We often stopped by Craig’s bakery in Kailua for their day-old specials, including their delicious custard pie. I now understand how absurd it was to be eating whatever I wanted to for dinner as a kid, including dessert, but my mom always said, “eggs, flour, milk, well why not it’s healthy?” I now suffer from an insatiable sweet-tooth that was earned from many of these “dessert for dinner” nights.

Recently I asked my mom how to make her delicious flan. She likes her caramel a little bit towards the dark and almost burnt side. Turns out I do too. I was always afraid to try making this dish fearing it was much too difficult. A bit tricky, but it turns out not too hard at all. We have our own hens and ducks, and if you can get your hands on some duck eggs it’ll make your custard divine.

My Mother’s FLAN

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups granulated raw sugar for caramel
  • 5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk plus 1 can condensed milk or evaporated milk plus nonfat milk to equal 4 cups.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or almond extract if you prefer)

Directions

  1. Have your baking dish/es ready, and be sure it is dry.
  2. Melt and caramelize the 2/3 cup raw sugar in a heavy skillet. (I use my 2qt le creuset)
  3. When sugar melts and turns a light golden color (or darker if you prefer, but make sure not to burn it), which takes about 5 minutes, quickly pour in the pudding dish/es and tilt back and forth with a swirling motion to cover bottom of dish. Set aside and cool.
  4. Beat eggs and yolks into the cream mixture and add salt. Stir. Add vanilla. Strain over a fine mesh strainer and pour into prepared pudding dish/es.
  5. Set dish in pan of hot water and baker covered with foil in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes for small ramekins, to 1 1/2 hours for a large dish. Note: Depending on the size of the pudding dish you use, a 2-quart dish or individual ramekins, your cooking time will vary.
  6. Insert knife in center, if knife comes out clean flan is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  7. Place a round, rimmed plate/platter over flan to flip over slowly. Flip carefully as the caramelized sugar syrup will pour out along with the flan. Enjoy warm or chilled.

I hope you enjoy this flan as much as I do!

Shop my Style Exchange Saturday Dec. 14th

Back by popular demand, I’m throwing another style exchange this Saturday. Avoid parking at the malls, and find unique one-of-a-kind pieces and looks just for you. Looking for something special? I’ve got loads of vintage and fancy party dresses perfect for this festive season. Got something specific in mind? Let me know and I’ll make sure to have it for you.
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Give the gift of Style

Whether you’re treating a close girlfriend, your mother, aunt, or yourself, we’re offering a special in honor of cyber Monday for Pualana’s Personal Styling services.

Buy a 2 hour session with Pualana for just $100! That’s a $50 savings. 

There is no limit to how many gift certificates you can purchase, so make sure to treat yourself too. What better time to make sure you’re dressed to impress this holiday season.

We’ll help you craft the perfect package and deliver your custom gift certificate for an extraordinary shopping and styling experience. Email okprettypua@gmail.com to get started.

Offer good all week through through next Tuesday Dec. 10th. Must be used by January 15, 2014.