Anyone can look smashing once in awhile, pulling together the perfect look for a reunion, wedding or company dinner.
But it's a breed apart that looks smart and polished down to the tiniest accessory day in and day out, deftly twisting each vagary of fashion into their own personal statement of style.The Deseret News interviewed some of Salt Lake's best-dressed men and women to discover their secret for non-stop style. The paper obtained the names of the city's nattiest dressers from area department stores and boutiques.
Karalee Kochevar is a homemaker and college student who loves clothes. For Kochevar, like all others interviewed for this story, fashion is a hobby she willingly lavishes time on. As a petite size two, Kochevar has a hard time finding clothes that fit, so she deliberately cultivates friendships with the clerks at her favorite stores.
"When clothes come in that my friends know I like or will fit me, they call me. That helps me with my time because I'm really busy with family and school."
Kochevar isn't afraid to ignore a fashion trend she doesn't like. "I don't like the '60s look and I won't wear it." And she steers clear of trends that will be dated in six months. "I would rather buy something a little more elegant and expensive and wear it for two or three years."
So she passed over the lace leggings but loved last fall's long jackets. The lace leggings won't last, she concluded. The jackets will. How does she tell? "If it seems too far over the edge, I assume it's a trend that won't last. I like dressing to the edge, but I don't like going over it."
Years of analytical shopping - seeing something she likes and stopping to analyze why she likes it - and subscriptions to several fashion magazines have developed Kochevar's sense of what is true style and what is a passing trend.
Kochevar credits her reputation for style in part to the best fashion advice she ever got: "When you try on something, and you really love it and it looks magnificent, always buy it whether you need it or not. A lot of things may look good on you, but there are very few things that are truly magnificent. If I try something on and it is really magnificent, I buy it. And I've never been sorry."
Developing a strong sense of personal style takes time, effort and yes, a certain amount of money. Those interviewed by the Deseret News say they buy a lot of clothes. KSL anchorwoman Shelley Thomas considers shopping an addiction.
"My husband used to tell people `She has clothes habit. She doesn't do drugs, she does clothes,' " Thomas said. "I have to exercise control and it's not easy. It's nothing to be proud of. It's a problem I've had since I was about six."
Thomas' passion is fueled by a life in front of the camera. But others confessed to the identical passion without the justification of a TV audience. Carole Olsen-Drecksel spends all day with fourth-graders. But that doesn't stop a sense of style that has won her awe of 9-year-olds and the praise of local fashion pundits.
Like Thomas, her love of clothing began as a small child. "When I was little, my mother sewed. We couldn't afford the real things, but she would copy them. I had beautiful clothes when I was small, so I got conditioned to them."
She advises the purchase of separates over dresses. "By being able to mix clothes, it looks like you have more clothes than you actually do."
Olsen-Drecksel relies on her training as an artist to help her creatively mix clothes to come up with a unique fashion look.
Like Olsen-Drecksel, Pat Jones attributes much of her personal style to a mother who understood fashion and emphasized grooming. "My mother always looked perfect to me," said Jones, who looks perfect to everyone else.
Jones believes half of a fashionable look is being physically fit and wearing clothing that is impeccably clean and pressed.
"Number one is staying in shape. If you can stay in good shape, then you look good in clothes. Next is having them clean and pressed," she said. "You can have only three outfits and still look wonderful because they are washed, starched and pressed. That's what I did when I was pregnant. People used to say I had such cute maternity clothes. I had all of three outfits. But I kept them looking like they had just come off the rack. I really try to emphasize neatness with my children. I won't let them wear wrinkly clothes."
Jones concurs with Kochevar that you can never go wrong buying something you love. "When I try something on, I know immediately if I like it or not. If I like it, I buy it. The times I have passed something up that I really like, I have regretted it. So now I usually get it."
Jones likes unusual clothes, so she does a lot of buying on out-of-town trips. "I don't like to wear things that you see on every rack in town. I like to be a little bit different than the norm."
In addition to uniqueness, Jones emphasizes quality fabric and workmanship. "I like good fabrics that hang well. I'd rather spend more on something of quality and get fewer clothes."
So she, too, steers clear of trends that come and go in a matter of months.
Like Thomas, whose dress is restricted by television, Jones spends the bulk of her money on tailored items like jackets. She relies on accessories to capture the trendiness of fashion, such as long earrings, hair bows and hosiery.
"Those are things that can be faddish, changing quickly with the times. But it doesn't cost very much to change them," Jones said.
Grant and Linda Heaton take an artsy approach to fashion. Linda Heaton began developing her personal style when she married Grant. As a tall woman, she had always struggled to find pants that fit. "Women's clothing never fit the way they should," she said. So she started wearing her husband's clothes. "I love men's suits. I've been able to wear a lot of Grant's clothes - which triples my wardrobe." The couple has become known for their unisex approach to fashion.
C. Dwight Wood combines an interior designer's understanding of color and fabric with his own standards of professional dress. Wood uses clothing to convey his attitude toward his work. "I try to dress with style and flair - but in a conservative direction. Some designers dress so flamboyantly they scare the client."
Wood dresses formally even when he is setting up a client's office or home. "A jacket and tie convey respect for the client. They are kind enough to spend the time and money to allow me to make the lifestyle decisions they are going to be living with. I want to show my respect for their courtesy and importance, by dressing appropriately."
Wood conveys his own sense of style by moving in directions opposite of the current trend. If braces are the rage, Wood focuses on unusual ties or "high style hosiery."
"I try to set my own style," he said. "I dress in balance. If I wear a European cut suit, I wear a European style shoe. I will try to do something fun with hosiery when I'm wearing a suit to give the suit some interest. Those are little things, but they are the finite refinements of style."
Wood steers clear of the bold or funky. "I dress conservatively because I don't want to be more important than the furniture I'm putting in a client's home."
He has most of his suits, jackets and shirts custom-made. He reads men's clothing magazines avidly "to give myself an overall feeling of what's happening. Then I try to interpret that in my own way."
Wood said he is known for his beautiful cars and "dressing completely."
He added, "I'm fascinated by beautiful things. I love beautiful cars, furniture, architecture and music. I consider clothing just another expression of art."