Two Chicagoans with so-so style get the What Not to Wear treatment from a pro fashionista.
When she met her boyfriend, Paul, for the first time, Christus thought she was looking pretty fine. The 23-year-old Wicker Park resident was wearing a purple polyester shirt with red flowers that she’d snagged from her grandmother’s closet and a new pair of plastic-framed men’s glasses. “I sort of have a sick sense of humor—and sometimes I think it comes out in my clothes,” Christus explains.
She stole his heart (“He loves funky stuff, too,” she says), but even Paul eventually tired of Christus’s retro look. Thanks to his prodding and her day job—she’s the volunteer program manager at the Adler Planetarium—Christus has swapped most of her funky ’60s apparel for A-line skirts in earthy tones like brown and olive, brightly colored, long-sleeved cotton tees from H&M and Target, and black suede flats.
She’d like to update her office attire with more sophisticated—yet quirky—pieces. “A lot of my stuff is too casual for work,” Christus says. “I’ll see people in other departments and they look really polished and professional. I’d like to be more like that.” And now she’s ready to take the next step.
“Instead of wearing the same ratty tee every day, Maria needs to invest in some well-made fabrics and accessories to give her more confidence at the office,” says stylist Danielle Lutz, who updates the looks of Chicagoans and tourists every day during her shopping tours around city neighborhoods (773-255-7866, chicagoshopwalk.com).
Clothes Lutz traded Christus’s army-green canvas satchel for a Hobo black clutch ($98, at Lori’s) that she can tuck into her office tote bag and use after work. Together, Lutz and Christus found visually slimming tops at Tangerine, including a hot-pink lightweight sweater by Autumn Cashmere ($184), which draws attention to Christus’s svelte upper body, and a navy belted jacket by Manoush ($260), which cinches her waist.
Christus only owns two pairs of pants (“I wear skirts everywhere,” she says), so they found a pair of flat-front, black trousers ($50, at Lane Bryant) that will transition easily from work to cocktails. The finishing touches? High heels by Jessica Bennett in a daring fuchsia hue to elongate Christus’s legs ($110, at Lori’s) and nature-inspired jewelry—branch earrings by Catherine Weitzman and a vine necklace by Alexis Bittar ($86 and $56, at Shebang).
Grooming Her wardrobe successfully updated with garments and accessories that are still true to her funky sense of style, Christus visited Dennis Bartolomei salon in the Gold Coast (15 E Pearson St, 312-787-7778). “We gave her what we call a ‘shattered bob’—short in the back with long, sweepy bangs—to accentuate her cheekbones,” says stylist Steven Graziano. Next, color specialist Kyle Witt added warm copper highlights to give extra dimension to Christus’s dishwater-blond hair. (Bonus: She’s a wash-and-go kind of gal and this low-maintenance style looks great even if it air dries.) Because Christus has always eschewed beauty products (“I can never get makeup to look good”), makeup artist Ronnie Brooks (also with Bartolomei) suggested she play up her bright blue eyes with taupe-colored eye shadow and mascara. She also tried out the contacts that she already owns, but rarely wears.
“It’s great to actually know how to get ready for work in the morning,” Christus says, beaming as she checks out her new bob in the mirror. “I did some serious credit-card damage, but I love my new clothes and I know they look great.”