Wardrobe wizards Joe Lupo and Jesse Garza founded the New York-based luxury lifestyle consulting company Visual Therapy 14 years ago. Lupo was in finance and Garza was the creative director of the famed Chicago boutique Ultimo. After moving to New York, they discovered that their clients from Chicago were eager to visit and get help shopping for and organizing their wardrobes. So, they opened a business to do just that.
Through the years, they've become industry experts, appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and in magazines such as Real Simple, Vanity Fair and O, the Oprah Magazine. They are following up their first book "Nothing to Wear," about editing your wardrobe, with "Life in Color" (Chronicle, $24.95), a guide to finding the right colors for your wardrobe. Using quizzes and questionnaires, runway photos, color swatches and before-and-after shots, the book helps readers determine the colors that work best for their skin, hair and eyes. Lupo and Garza's system has four primary color types (sun, moon, star and earth) and 20 more nuanced types, and the book includes tips about how to incorporate color into your wardrobe, how to choose patterns, even lip and hair color, and handy color palette stickers for assembling an on-the-go swatch.
The authors draw on their experience with hundreds of corporate and individual clients, including Rita Wilson, who wrote the book's foreword. We caught up with Lupo for a few minutes on the phone to chat about one of his favorite subjects: how to "pop" colors.
Why did you write this book?
We have tons of clients in L.A., New York, San Francisco and Dallas, and we found that while style is very regional, everyone tends to go to black to be safe. They love wearing black and chocolate brown because they are not sure what the right colors are that work for them. So we identified a color type quiz to go along with the style type quiz from our last book. It teaches you how to be a smart shopper by giving you a palette to work from. I'm a chic, avant-garde, sometimes whimsical moon.
What are the advantages to learning to wear color?
You get people's attention and you feel more alive. My favorite color is cerulean blue, and when I wear it, it always provokes some sort of comment or a smile. Even with neutrals, you have to know which ones are right for you. I am better in dove gray than in khaki because khaki makes me look dead. Bright white is better for me than ivory. We show you how if you do like khaki that you can make it work. Just don't wear it near your face. And make sure to pop it with a blue shirt.
If you don't have the money to invest in a new, color-corrected wardrobe, what's the easiest way to get started?
If you are a woman, you can look at changing your underpinnings, tanks and wraps. In L.A., you can use a fab, gauzy wrap at night. You can also pop color in a handbag. Neon colors have been "in" for a while, but they don't look good on a lot of people. So you buy it as a bag or shoe.
Is there a color you should avoid if you're going on a job interview and trying to make a good impression?
You want them to notice you, not your outfit. So don't go in a red dress. Because red is a color that evokes passionate responses, but can also be a bit much for someone. Blue is a calming color. It puts people at ease, and there is a blue in every color palette.
Are the rules the same with men? How can they incorporate color into their wardrobes?
Yes, the quiz is the same for men. A blue shirt is always great, but you have to be careful about the color blue that you wear. It's great to have your palette with you when you are looking for ties, so you can find a tie that has several of your colors in it.
What are the colors of 2009?
We are going to see more yellow. But yellow is really hard to wear; you have to know if you're a butter or bright yellow. Or this might be a case where you skip the trend. Because you don't even want yellow shoes unless they are cool sneaks. Our current economic situation is only going to lead to more color, because people are looking to feel better.