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While thousands of girls clamor for jobs as stylists, Heidy Best just sort of fell into hers. After fleeing Ohio for Chicago at 19, Best discovered that she had a serious talent for shopping. Her neighbors took notice: "I'd get a lot of compliments, like 'I love your necklace' or 'I like this' ...eventually they'd say 'I wish I had time to shop' and I was just going to school at the time so I didn't have anything else going on — I just kind of said 'well, I can do it,'" Best told us.
This led to a long career at Neiman Marcus and the opportunity to style fashion segments for The Oprah Show. Now Best runs her own business, BECLOTHESMINDED, a fashion consulting firm that handles everything from personal shopping to closet organization. She sat down with us to talk trends, her favorite local stores and the shoes that'll make any woman look taller and thinner.
What is some advice you'd give a girl who is on a budget but really wants to curate the best possible wardrobe for herself?
I deal with that a lot. I would say write down your must-haves. Like: I need a black skirt. That's a basic, you don't have to spend a lot of money on it, there are a lot of great stores that'll have it, Forever 21, H&M, Topshop, Loft. You can get it for around $50 or even less.
I think everybody needs to have a couple of tops with a little bit of a print in them so that [you can pair them back to] a blue skirt one day, black bottoms another day, and really get your money's worth.
In terms of shoes, I think it depends on if you're on your feet a lot. I think everyone should have a couple pairs of nude shoes. They elongate your leg, they make you look skinnier. It doesn't have to be an expensive pair. Nordstrom carries some really good ones; you can get a really good pair there. Michael Kors, same way. I definitely think nude shoes go a long way and you don't really have to spend a lot on them. I guess you have to decide: are you working with clients a lot? Or are you in an office a lot? That will give you some pointers as to what you need.
What are some of your favorite places in the city to shop?
I love Edith Hart. I think you can get some really great pieces and I think Morgan [Gutterman, store owner] has it set up so she only has a few sizes in every style. If you went in there and saw something, you would be really lucky if she had your size – that way you don't see 20 other people wearing it. I like the uniqueness of that.
I think von Z is an amazing store, it just happens to be right around the corner from Edith Hart. I love the setup.
I really love Loft, the prices are amazing and the stuff fits a really petite client and also someone like me, someone who is a little curvier. I think it's important that no matter what size you are, you'll feel good about yourself. I have to be loyal to Neiman Marcus. I think they carry the best designers.
As a stylist what would you say are some hard and fast rules for dressing for specific body types?
I'll go back to my size. I know that I have my limitations to what I can wear. I'm around 5'8", and I'm a size 12. So there are just some things I have to accept that I can't do. The shorter hemlines look so great on someone who is very thin and leggy but on me I have to get something with a longer hemline. I say that instead of trying to look like a different person, just dress for your size.
I have clients that have full closets of items in a size 4 but they have one item from years ago that's a size 0. They don't toss it and in their minds they really want to try and go back to that size 0. My statement to them is: 'do you want to go back to that one size 0 piece and have to get rid of everything else in your closet? Or do you want to be really excited about having so much to wear in your closet and forget that size 0?'
What is your take on trends? For example, wedge sneakers and peplum are pretty polarizing. How do you feel about them?
I love the peplum. I think it's great, I think it's really fun. You can get a peplum top and mix and match and wear it with a skinny pant, a wide pant, a skirt. Every time you change that bottom it makes it look like a completely different outfit. Obviously peplum dresses are great for the office, and depending on what the neckline is, you can definitely wear it into night.
The wedge sneaker? I can't pull it off but I love my girls who can. I think it's really great for like a funky, casual game day look, or if they're just running errands and they want that look that you'd normally get with a heel but they want to comfort of a sneaker. I think it's really fun.
What would you say are some great investment pieces? Things women should really splurge on without guilt.
A great handbag, something you can fit your computer in, or your Kindle, or your iPad. Something that can work the whole season if you're not someone who switches your bag a lot. Definitely each season women should be updating their nude shoes, getting a new snakeskin or a new patent, because that will never go out of style. If you're wearing a skirt or a dress it really lengthens your legs. I would probably say a really great dress, something that can take you to a lot of events you have during the season.
How has your style changed since you started working in the industry?
When I first started at Neiman's I wore looser clothes; I felt really confident if what I was wearing was a little bit further away from my body, it was almost like a shield. I remember my husband was like 'you look like you're wearing a sack, what are you doing? You may not be a size 2 but you're beautiful and you should show off your body and highlight that.' After a little bit of cajoling I started getting into more body- conscious pieces. I'm just kind of embracing the shape that I am.
Do you have any people, either locals or celebrities, you'd really love to style?
A lot of my clients have become some of my best friends. A lot of the best experiences I've had have been styling friends for their weddings or when they're pregnant. It's so fun to walk them through the really important phases of their life. It's always great to be involved with the hustle and bustle that celebrities bring to the table. I really did enjoy working with Tim Gunn, he's all about dressing women to look their own age, since some women dress ten years older and some ten years younger. He had a really great take on the way women dress.
· BECLOTHESMINDED [Official Site]
· All Chicago Chats [Racked]