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Closet Envy: Fashion Insider Beverly Smith

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Go ahead and stare, lifestyle expert Beverly Smith isn't fazed, in fact, she thrives on the glares. The curvaceous fashion insider, a regular contributor to Paper magazine in addition to covering New York Fashion Week for Access Hollywood, is no stranger to drawing lots of attention. In an industry that idolizes a size zero and turns its nose up at a size six, Smith's voluptuous frame and penchant for dressing it in body-hugging clothes, sets her a world apart from her body-conscious peers. Smith, who during her time as Fashion and Beauty Advertising Director at Vibe Magazine was responsible for bridging the gap between high-fashion advertisers and the urban demographic, has long adopted a vixen persona when it comes to getting dolled-up to host her premier networking Dinner with Bevy soirees, where the music and fashion world mingle, drawing guests like Marc Jacobs and T.I. Rarely seen in casual ensembles, save for leggings paired with an oversized sweater and sky-high heels, of course, the former Senior Director of Fashion Advertising at Rolling Stone magazine has an extensive wardrobe that consists of designers like Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, and Diane von Furstenberg -- all of whom celebrate sexy women. Smith isn't shy about playing up her feminine curves. According to Smith, the first step to looking fabulous is: "Be honest about your shape! I have breasts and a butt, I don't look good in loose, playful clothes, I don't have a adolescent body. I need a dress that announces a grown-ass woman has arrived!" So what does that mean? An arsenal of dresses: some wrap, some mini and some maxi, but all generously low-cut to showcase her "twins," as she affectionately calls them. Numerous YSL "Mad Men" secretary-style skirts hang on the racks of her closet alongside Dolce & Gabbana sweaters. Prints and jerseys are on Smith's must-have list, season after season. Smith may have a glam closet, make that four, but we think her unadulterated confidence is just as enviable. We got the scoop behind Smith's take on fashion and the curvy girls, her hunt for a flat she can love, and the look she won't ever attempt to pull off. ESSENCE.com: How would you describe your style? BEVERLY SMITH: I love style, more than clothes and fashion, I love that my besties can look at an item and say "That's so Bevy!" I love that I have a personal style that everyone may not understand much less like, but I love it. I'm going to work it until I can't anymore. Being well-dressed or even making a style mistake doesn't really affect the world, so don't take it so seriously. The key to personal style is just that -- personal. If you have healthy self-esteem and you look in the mirror and actually like what you see, keep that with you when you go out into the world. Don't let trends and other people's opinions make you shrink or change who you are. Instead, identify your "good thing" and flaunt it with pride!   I don't get involved with trends! Trends are for people that are looking for guidance, I don't want anyone's guidance, unless you can tell me where to get a comfortable 5-inch heel. Otherwise, trends go on around me and I may hit on it simply because it's in the store and it appeals to me. I don't care that I'm on trend, that's a marketing ploy. ESSENCE.com: What one piece of clothing best represents you? SMITH: The DVF wrap dress.  Let's be clear, all wrap dresses are not created equal. Diane has been knocked-off many times, but no one can touch her construction of a wrap dress. From the way that belt falls just perfectly at your waist to the silk jersey that her dresses are made of, it's a sensual yet sophisticated garment that's easily removed! ESSENCE.com: Who are your style icons? SMITH:  I love the way Catherine Zeta Jones dresses, she's a grown woman that dresses her age but is still sexy. Sophia Loren in her heyday also had a great sense of style. She never tryed to hide her "assets." She was always enhancing them! Both of these women are truly curvy, not fat, and really show off their shapes in a divine way. ESSENCE.com: How big is your closet? BEVERLY:  I have four closets, including one for shoes (originally for linens) and, of course, every N.Y. woman's off-premise closet, a storage unit, where I keep my designer clothes from seasons past. ESSENCE.com: What are some of your favorite pieces? BEVERLY: I have a lovely LBD from the Tom Ford era of Gucci, I love it so much because it's form-fitting with quite a cleavage moment. I have a gorgeous Missoni dress which is from a collection where they deviated from the zig-zag pattern and did huge abstract swirls. It's in silk jersey versus the traditional knit. I just bought a divine Zac Posen for Target skirt that is black with ruching and it's simply to die! It's so sexy and it shows off my nice tush, which never gets any attention due to my "twins," lol! ESSENCE.com: When it comes to color and print, where do you stand? SMITH: I love color because I think brown girls look the absolute best in the widest range of color! I have a multi-colored Pucci ski jacket and a Genny orange coat with a matching Persian lamb collar, it's a lot on it, but I believe my complexion glows when I wear it. I believe that no one does leopard print better than Dolce & Gabbana and for fun, whimsical moments when you are brave enough to stand out, I think Roberto Cavalli does a great job with racy, abstract patterns. That said, I wear a lot of black because it's easy and sometimes I don't want to have to think about my clothes. Sometimes, I want my shoe to be the focal point and black is the perfect backdrop! ESSENCE.com: Who are your favorite designers? SMITH: My favorite designers are Dolce & Gabbana because they cut for curves, with the exception of any of their dresses with the built-in bras, never going to work on a gal with DDs. Every season, I usually buy something Pucci and Missoni because I love prints and silk jersey. I have quite a few YSL skirts; I like them because, like Dolce, they too serve a sexy secretary moment. BCBG is great for almost every occasion from playtime to cocktail dresses. Catherine Malandrino offers the same ease of dressing, as well. For downtime, I swear by H&M for a fun dress, top or jewelry and American Apparel for leggings. I shop Bergdorf Goodman on the 5th floor for "work" looks and every time I'm in a market that has a Neiman Marcus, I must go shopping. Another great "go to" shop is Express, they make great pants for girls with butts. I also love Banana Republic because their jewelry collection is to die for and their clothes are true to size. I'm a size 10 there, always. That eliminates the need to try them on. I love an easy shopping excursion. ESSENCE.com: What do you wear on an average day? SMITH:  I work from home, so during the day I'm wearing sweatpants to the gym. If I have a meeting, it's an easy dress with killer heels. For evening events, I like sequins, metallics, lame and lots of cleavage, to the point of vulgarity, sometimes. Hey, Sophia Loren is a constant inspiration! ESSENCE.com: What would never be caught dead in? SMITH: That Martha's Vineyard look of a great worn sweatshirt, khakis and driving shoes, it looks so comfy, but I could never pull it off. I don't do well with casual looks, in general. I'm so thankful that a legging and a boyfriend sweater has become an acceptable look, but even still, I glam up that look with a high-heel wedge. I always look out of place when I visit friends that have country homes, it's like I'm clearly a "City Mouse." ESSENCE.com: What were some the items in your closet you're excited about right now? SMITH:  I generally only buy major items for my dinner parties, the last dresses I bought were a Roberto Cavalli maxi-dress and a French Connection peplum dress. I also have a divine Tory Burch clutch that can convert to a shoulder bag with a chain strap. I bought a YSL black patent tribute bag and two pairs of YSL sandals for the Super Bowl/Oscar weekend. There's also a gorgeous Hugo Boss quilted shoulder bag that I receive tons of compliments on. I have two dinner parties in May that I must shop for, as well as the holy grail of fashion moments, besides fashion week, the ESSENCE Music Festival! ESSENCE.com: What are you dying to get your hands on? SMITH: My dream is to find a flat shoe that I actually adore, but I doubt that will ever happen.  In lieu of that impossible dream, I always try to buy an Azzedine shoe every year. It's tough because I'm used to industry discounts and I know no one there. The starting price point of $1,200 is a real commitment, but it's worth it! Wearing Azzedine anything puts you in an exclusive club of confident women. Because I work in fashion, I don't have weaknesses like shoes or bags, I'm into style moments like travel accouterments: blankets, eye masks and carry-on luggage. I'm also obsessed with good stationery and journals, particularly from Smythson of Bond Street. ESSENCE.com: Where does your confidence come from? Were you ever shy about showing off your curves? SMITH: My confidence comes from being raised by a woman that loves her body. My mom has photos of herself in lingerie in the family photo album, how's that for confidence?! I've always loved my shape, but I didn't become a size ten until I was 33 years old. Before that I was always a  size four and eight. I had a "coke" bottle shape, so what was there to not be confident about! Now that I've gained weight, my waist still goes in, my breasts are big, but my stomach doesn't meet them and my butt is larger than my stomach, for that I'm eternally grateful. Right now, I love the way I look most days. I never enter a room feeling insecure around a girl that's a size two or four. Ultimately, my confidence comes from looking in the mirror nude every day and seeing what I really look like, hitting the gym and watching what I eat, and being grateful that my body is in pretty good shape. Most importantly, my body is strong and it works.
Filed Under: Closet Envy
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