TALKING FASHION
LSD Asks Celebrity Stylist Kate Young All About Evening

TALKING FASHION
LSD Asks Celebrity Stylist Kate Young All About Evening

For many of us the arrival of spring signals the start of the social season: cue weddings, galas and, with that, countless questions about what to wear to them. So who better to ask than Kate Young, the coveted Hollywood stylist behind Michelle Williams (yes, she was responsible for that yellow Oscars dress), Margot Robbie, Rachel Weisz and more.

As a leading celebrity stylist, Young’s job is to ensure her clients feel comfortable and beautiful yet are fashionably-relevant and appropriate, night after night. She also happens to be a friend of LSD’s: They started their careers together at Vogue and have remained close—their husbands are even business partners. Addressing an intimate audience of Moda clients and friends at our Madison Avenue townhouse, the duo sat down over coffee to talk all things evening. Lauren quizzed her friend on challenging dress codes (Beach Formal, anyone?) and mused on why one diamond bracelet can sometimes be better than two. Here’s what you missed:

For many of us the arrival of spring signals the start of the social season: cue weddings, galas and, with that, countless questions about what to wear to them. So who better to ask than Kate Young, the coveted Hollywood stylist behind Michelle Williams (yes, she was responsible for that yellow Oscars dress), Margot Robbie, Rachel Weisz and more.

As a leading celebrity stylist, Young’s job is to ensure her clients feel comfortable and beautiful yet are fashionably-relevant and appropriate, night after night. She also happens to be a friend of LSD’s: They started their careers together at Vogue and have remained close—their husbands are even business partners. Addressing an intimate audience of Moda clients and friends at our Madison Avenue townhouse, the duo sat down over coffee to talk all things evening. Lauren quizzed her friend on challenging dress codes (Beach Formal, anyone?) and mused on why one diamond bracelet can sometimes be better than two. Here’s what you missed:

Lauren Santo Domingo: You’re best known for dressing Hollywood celebrities. What are the parallels between what we see on the red carpet and what “normal” women wear to formal events?

Kate Young: It’s actually very similar. Women want to wear something that is flattering, that gets you noticed, that earns compliments. I see the Moda woman as a fashion person—she wants a conversation-starter piece.

LSD: You really pioneered a departure from this very “done” look on the red carpet, favoring instead a looser, more effortless aesthetic. Where do you see things going now?

KY: That’s interesting. I feel like people are moving towards that notion of “perfect” again. There’s certainly been an increase in the amount of makeup people wear—I think Instagram beauty has had a big impact on that.

LSD: Contouring for day!

KY: [Laughs] Exactly! Hair and makeup is getting so intense. I tend to prefer a tension between the two: So, with a really fancy dress, I like hair and makeup to feel easy. 

LSD: What other rules do you follow? Is there anything you wouldn't do?

KY: I really don’t like an “in-between” length necklace. It can work on some, but most women have boobs and it can look weird hidden in there. I like a necklace to be either really long or short. I don’t like an arm bangle.


“The first time I considered antique jewelry was when I saw Michelle Williams at the 2006 Oscars in that beautiful yellow Vera Wang gown.”

Lauren Santo Domingo: You’re best known for dressing Hollywood celebrities. What are the parallels between what we see on the red carpet and what “normal” women wear to formal events?

Kate Young: It’s actually very similar. Women want to wear something that is flattering, that gets you noticed, that earns compliments. I see the Moda woman as a fashion person—she wants a conversation-starter piece.

LSD: You really pioneered a departure from this very “done” look on the red carpet, favoring instead a looser, more effortless aesthetic. Where do you see things going now?

KY: That’s interesting. I feel like people are moving towards that notion of “perfect” again. There’s certainly been an increase in the amount of makeup people wear—I think Instagram beauty has had a big impact on that.

LSD: Contouring for day!

KY: [Laughs] Exactly! Hair and makeup is getting so intense. I tend to prefer a tension between the two: So, with a really fancy dress, I like hair and makeup to feel easy. 

LSD: What other rules do you follow? Is there anything you wouldn't do?

KY: I really don’t like an “in-between” length necklace. It can work on some, but most women have boobs and it can look weird hidden in there. I like a necklace to be either really long or short. I don’t like an arm bangle.


“The first time I considered antique jewelry was when I saw Michelle Williams at the 2006 Oscars in that beautiful yellow Vera Wang gown.”

LSD: Speaking of jewelry, the first time I considered antique jewelry was when I saw Michelle Williams at the 2006 Oscars in that beautiful yellow Vera Wang gown. That look put antique jewelry on my radar: I think it’s one of the most iconic red carpet looks ever. Part of it was the beauty element, but a lot of it was the Georgian necklace. When you’re thinking about pairing jewelry with fashion, where do you begin?

KY: Well, the thing with jewelry is that it really depends on what’s available. There are not multiples of these pieces—and the pieces sell. So at the beginning of the season, around Golden Globes time, I visit all the jewelers to see what they have available.

LSD: Do you like big or small pieces?

KY: I like both—it depends on the person. Michelle Williams is super tiny and she has short hair so long earrings don’t look great on her. But then giant earrings work on almost everybody else.

LSD: Right now in our office everyone is into really big jewelry. And we’re all tending towards a lot of large-scale, gold pieces. We’re seeing a lot of ‘80s references with brands like Attico and Alessandra Rich. Do you pay attention to trends at all?

KY: Yes, but it’s more about a look. For instance, we’re doing Sophie Turner right now for the Game of Thrones press tour and the whole theme is “‘80s glam Jerry Hall”. It’s a vibe. So, yes, big jewelry is where we’re going!

LSD: Speaking of jewelry, the first time I considered antique jewelry was when I saw Michelle Williams at the 2006 Oscars in that beautiful yellow Vera Wang gown. That look put antique jewelry on my radar: I think it’s one of the most iconic red carpet looks ever. Part of it was the beauty element, but a lot of it was the Georgian necklace. When you’re thinking about pairing jewelry with fashion, where do you begin?

KY: Well, the thing with jewelry is that it really depends on what’s available. There are not multiples of these pieces—and the pieces sell. So at the beginning of the season, around Golden Globes time, I visit all the jewelers to see what they have available.

LSD: Do you like big or small pieces?

KY: I like both—it depends on the person. Michelle Williams is super tiny and she has short hair so long earrings don’t look great on her. But then giant earrings work on almost everybody else.

LSD: Right now in our office everyone is into really big jewelry. And we’re all tending towards a lot of large-scale, gold pieces. We’re seeing a lot of ‘80s references with brands like Attico and Alessandra Rich. Do you pay attention to trends at all?

KY: Yes, but it’s more about a look. For instance, we’re doing Sophie Turner right now for the Game of Thrones press tour and the whole theme is “‘80s glam Jerry Hall”. It’s a vibe. So, yes, big jewelry is where we’re going!

LSD: How do you reconcile your own taste with trends?

KY: When I first started, I was trying to figure out my own taste irrespective of what everyone else was saying. Now that I’m comfortable with that, when new trends arrive—particularly those that I don’t understand—I often ask the girls in my office, “Do you wear this? How? Why?” and then I try to figure out if that’s okay with me. My clients don’t wear hoodies and pumped-up sneakers—I think it’s cool when I see other people do it, but it’s not my thing. I never really did the Vetements thing, or the teeny sunglasses. When I try too hard I always regret it.

“I like emeralds to clash, so I’d put them with a pink dress or blue or red.”

LSD: Can you share some of your favorite jewelry pieces and tell us how to style them?

KY: These [gestures to vintage emerald earrings] are classic red carpet.

LSD: How do you pair colored stones with fashion?

KY: I like them to be off—I probably wouldn't put them with a green dress. I like emeralds in particular to clash, so I’d put them with a pink dress or blue or red—almost anything that doesn't match.

LSD: That’s what I love about your style. It’s never perfect, it’s never forced.

LSD: How do you reconcile your own taste with trends?

KY: When I first started, I was trying to figure out my own taste irrespective of what everyone else was saying. Now that I’m comfortable with that, when new trends arrive—particularly those that I don’t understand—I often ask the girls in my office, “Do you wear this? How? Why?” and then I try to figure out if that’s okay with me. My clients don’t wear hoodies and pumped-up sneakers—I think it’s cool when I see other people do it, but it’s not my thing. I never really did the Vetements thing, or the teeny sunglasses. When I try too hard I always regret it.

“I like emeralds to clash, so I’d put them with a pink dress or blue or red.”

LSD: Can you share some of your favorite jewelry pieces and tell us how to style them?

KY: These [gestures to vintage emerald earrings] are classic red carpet.

LSD: How do you pair colored stones with fashion?

KY: I like them to be off—I probably wouldn't put them with a green dress. I like emeralds in particular to clash, so I’d put them with a pink dress or blue or red—almost anything that doesn't match.

LSD: That’s what I love about your style. It’s never perfect, it’s never forced.

KY: I love this Mizuki pearl cuff. She does all these weird natural pearls in modern ways. Pearls can sometimes come across as old but these feel so cool and new to me.

LSD: There’s definitely a baroque pearl thing happening right now. There’s something about it that eschews that idea of perfection and there’s something really beautiful about the individual character of each.

KY: Yes, I love asymmetry. It’s that tweak on the traditional that I love.

LSD: Some people dress really well for day, while others dress well for night. Personally, I cannot get dressed in the day: I always end up wearing jeans and a blazer. But at night I’m all in: I want sparkle and shine. 

KY: In the past I’ve been more maximalist: I was very into stacking bracelets. I feel like Instagram killed that for me—the arm party! You know how you get tired of something when you see it too much...

LSD: ...Or when you see something done badly.

KY: [laughs] Yes, there’s that! Just one is good right now, it’s a little bit more restrained.

LSD: We’re constantly asked about dress codes. So I’m going to quiz you on some of the more ambiguous ones we’ve received: “Beach formal?”

KY: Temperley! To me, “beach formal” means gauzy. You're wearing a gown in soft materials—no beads!—with a flat thong sandal.

“To me, ‘beach formal’ means gauzy. You’re wearing a gown in soft materials with a flat.”

LSD: “Tropical chic?”

KY: Colorful!

LSD: “Dress to impress?”

KY: Sparkle and feathers. It’s camp.

LSD: “Black tie optional”

KY: I interpret that as girls have to wear black tie but the guys don’t have to.

KY: I love this Mizuki pearl cuff. She does all these weird natural pearls in modern ways. Pearls can sometimes come across as old but these feel so cool and new to me.

LSD: There’s definitely a baroque pearl thing happening right now. There’s something about it that eschews that idea of perfection and there’s something really beautiful about the individual character of each.

KY: Yes, I love asymmetry. It’s that tweak on the traditional that I love.

LSD: Some people dress really well for day, while others dress well for night. Personally, I cannot get dressed in the day: I always end up wearing jeans and a blazer. But at night I’m all in: I want sparkle and shine. 

KY: In the past I’ve been more maximalist: I was very into stacking bracelets. I feel like Instagram killed that for me—the arm party! You know how you get tired of something when you see it too much...

LSD: ...Or when you see something done badly.

KY: [laughs] Yes, there’s that! Just one is good right now, it’s a little bit more restrained.

LSD: We’re constantly asked about dress codes. So I’m going to quiz you on some of the more ambiguous ones we’ve received: “Beach formal?”

KY: Temperley! To me, “beach formal” means gauzy. You're wearing a gown in soft materials—no beads!—with a flat thong sandal.

“To me, ‘beach formal’ means gauzy. You’re wearing a gown in soft materials with a flat.”

LSD: “Tropical chic?”

KY: Colorful!

LSD: “Dress to impress?”

KY: Sparkle and feathers. It’s camp.

LSD: “Black tie optional”

KY: I interpret that as girls have to wear black tie but the guys don’t have to.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR


Q: What are the best styles for larger chests when you don’t want to look revealing?

KY: The key is to think matte on top as shiny materials make your boobs look bigger. And also a gathered waist. Bringing the waist in is a good alternative to showing off your body without doing a low-V.

Q:  What is the most flattering length?

KY: Tea length is great, hitting at the thinnest point of the leg just before the calf extends.

Q:  What are your thoughts on platform shoes?

KY: I use them if the dress is long. I don’t like it if the heel is skinny: It has to be a stacked '70s heel with a platform.

Q:  Locally, women my age seem to be so casual. How can I dress for evening and be dressed up but not completely stand out?

KY: Jewelry. If everyone is wearing jeans and a top to go out, a major necklace can take things to the next level without feeling ridiculous. Also a little sparkly handbag.

Q:   Would you suggest investing in one expensive evening gown or buying several more affordable dresses?

KY: It really depends on your personality. If you want to be the woman in THAT dress and you’re confident you can style it differently a hundred times with hair and jewelry then invest in one gown. If you don’t have the jewelry or would be overwhelmed by the styling then invest in several.

LSD: When you have one dress, you actually get better at styling it every time. I invest in evening bags to switch things up—that’s my crack. If it’s a small, sparkly, inconvenient bag that won’t fit anything in it, then I love it. It’s my go-to.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR


Q: What are the best styles for larger chests when you don’t want to look revealing?

KY: The key is to think matte on top as shiny materials make your boobs look bigger. And also a gathered waist. Bringing the waist in is a good alternative to showing off your body without doing a low-V.

Q:  What is the most flattering length?

KY: Tea length is great, hitting at the thinnest point of the leg just before the calf extends.

Q:  What are your thoughts on platform shoes?

KY: I use them if the dress is long. I don’t like it if the heel is skinny: It has to be a stacked '70s heel with a platform.

Q:  Locally, women my age seem to be so casual. How can I dress for evening and be dressed up but not completely stand out?

KY: Jewelry. If everyone is wearing jeans and a top to go out, a major necklace can take things to the next level without feeling ridiculous. Also a little sparkly handbag.

Q:   Would you suggest investing in one expensive evening gown or buying several more affordable dresses?

KY: It really depends on your personality. If you want to be the woman in THAT dress and you’re confident you can style it differently a hundred times with hair and jewelry then invest in one gown. If you don’t have the jewelry or would be overwhelmed by the styling then invest in several.

LSD: When you have one dress, you actually get better at styling it every time. I invest in evening bags to switch things up—that’s my crack. If it’s a small, sparkly, inconvenient bag that won’t fit anything in it, then I love it. It’s my go-to.