Show & Tell

It’s hard to explain—it was just something I slid into,” said Andy Rempel. He was describing his job as a fashion stylist, which is akin to defining style itself. After all, what is style? Rempel offered an explanation. “I think of it as playing with ideas of what’s appropriate and expected,” he said. “You twist things, not to offend, but just to have fun. Maybe you have a gown that’s appropriately appointed with jewelry, and then the shoe is a little off. Maybe it’s the color or height, but it’s something to make the whole look a little awkward, uncomfortable—not normal.”

His own ensemble on a recent steamy day was a good example. He had paired standard Gap cargo shorts with a cream-colored football jersey, notable for its Playboy logo, layered over a pale blue T-shirt. And his shoe—a louche version of a loafer from Dolce & Gabbana, in brown leather and denim patchwork, worn sans sock—did indeed make the outfit. It was an astute mix of upscale, average, and downmarket. Naturally, Rempel has his favorite boutiques, but he also loves thrift stores. His favorites are Everyday People, the Unique and Savers thrift stores in Columbia Heights, and the Goodwill in Roseville.

Ultimately, Rempel said, style is a matter of fit, both with one’s personality and one’s body. “Especially here in the Midwest, women need to take a good look at their bodies and figure out what works.” He targeted ill-fitting bras as the most common fashion faux pas among women: “Ladies need to run, not walk, to the closest good lingerie department and get properly fitted!” In general, women buy clothing that’s too tight, but Rempel also sees slender types in baggy sweatshirts who “think tight clothing is sexual, which it doesn’t have to be.”

As a tip to avoid potentially regrettable purchases, Rempel recommends getting opinions from other shoppers, not friends or sales clerks. “A friend doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, but strangers who aren’t trying to make a sale—they’ll tell you the truth.”

There was one last, mystifying issue Rempel was able to clear up. Who pays full price? He smiled. “A lot more people than you think.”

—Julie Caniglia