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We don’t like to play favorites, but we’ve never met a Tibi dress we didn’t like. That’s because designer Amy Smilovic has a knack for effortlessly chic styles that are as beautiful as they are easy to wear. “I work with silhouettes that are flattering and wearable,” the Georgia-born mother of two tells us, “but am always looking to reinvent the look and push it a new level.” The result: modern, versatile pieces that work everywhere from board meetings to beach days to downtown dance parties. (Just ask celeb fans Heidi Klum, Eva Mendes and Vanessa Hudgens).
Clos-ette Case: Amy
Smilovic of Tibi
We sat down with the designer, fresh off her Fall 2011 show, to find out how she keeps her own carefully-culled wardrobe in fighting shape.
One of the best ways to keep one’s closet under control is to have a clear sense of one’s personal style. How do you define yours?
I always have about ten items that define my look: a blue yachting blazer, a long black skinny jacket, a blue and white striped men’s shirt, a white lace shirt, a black slouchy trouser, a hot pink skinny belt, a white flowy dress, a skinny jean, etc. Everything I buy should go back in some way, shape, or form to any of these items. If I buy a great white dress, then I should be able to layer it with the blazer, a great top should go back with the trousers, etc. That way the closet builds in layers rather than branching out in a million directions.
How do you keep it all organized?
My secret sense of organization baffles my husband, but it does work for me. I organize by category first (pants, skirts, etc.) and then by color, and lastly by functionality (day v. night, sleeve v. no sleeve). I can only have one season at a time in my closet – so everything that is not for the current season is transported to other closets in the house. I have these fabulous bins from Hold Everything that I use for workout wear, swimsuits & cover-ups – items that can be folded and I don’t need to see the range when deciding what to wear. (We sent her some of our acclaimed Signature Hangers to style her closet!)
How often do you edit your closet?
Every year I do a huge purge of my closet, to make room for the new and to make sure what I have I absolutely love. Because my mornings can be a little hectic, I have to be able to actually see my options. My outfits are completely visual –it just doesn’t work for me to dream up an outfit, I have to see what I’m working with.
How has your own wardrobe inspired your recent collections?
Lately I find myself pulling out the basic-yet-classic pieces like a straight leg trouser or scoop neck sweater, but they’re lacking an element of excitement and detail. This is the basis of my Fall 2011 collection – it’s all about the closet essentials, with a modern twist. For example, our tuxedo blazer in white satin with a thin black leather lapel, button-downs with pintucks and pleats, and cocktail skirts with exaggerated fullness and longer hemlines.
What are your favorite fashion basics?
A skinny black blazer that works for any time – at evening over a fabulous dress, over a tee and shorts, over a mini dress during the day, and with pants for work. I always have a package of Hanes ribbed men’s tank tops in my closet. They are the perfect layering piece every time!
What's on heavy rotation in your closet right now?
My Stella McCartney black long blazer for all the aforementioned reason! And I have a pair of YSL sandals with rubber tire soles – they’re about four years old now but wear forever (the tire traction helps) and are perfection for summer with a dress and fall with socks and a trouser.
What would we never find in your closet?
Logos! I cannot abide by wearing logos – not on my shoes, not on my bags, not even on a polo shirt. I really think it strips you of the whole concept of having personal style. If someone can tell me how to pry the Prada name off my bags, I would be so happy. Obsessed with the bags, hate the logos!
What are some pieces you'll never get rid of?
A Chanel cotton poplin evening gown, my Prada beaded runway necklace, and the Prada dress I wore to my rehearsal dinner in 1996.
Whose closet would you like to raid?
Giovanna Battaglia – that is a serious to-die-for closet. I’d like to raid her whole look: the shoes, the jewelry, the clothes, and her legs – but I don’t think those are for sale.