Style Steal: Olivia Palermo
Ask anyone to list the best dressed women on the planet, and Olivia Palermo would have to win a mention. Her effortless polish, coupled with a refusal to follow trends, has made her one of the most-copied tastemakers out there. And when she got married in shorts and a sweater earlier this year she completely shook up everyone’s idea of bridal wear too, even if they were by Carolina Herrera. Think preppy with a modern edge: not the easiest look to get right, but I’ve broken down the pieces you’ll need. Anchor them with natural makeup and relaxed hair to channel Olivia’s poise down to the last detail.
Blazer, Vero Moda. Lace hem camisole, Topshop. Jeans, Frame Denim. Olivia leather strap clutch, Whistles. Denim shirt, Scotch & Soda. Ballet flats, H&M.
Nobody does denim quite like Olivia. Even when she’s wearing distressed shorts or shredded boyfriend jeans, she knows how to mix them with more classic pieces: a sharp blazer or timeless stripes look effortless but polished when you add neutral flats and pared-back jewellery. Olivia loves a nude ballet pump – they tie into her chic, preppy style seamlessly – and this pair from H&M will work year-round.
Stick to the muted colour palette with this streamlined clutch from Whistles (which is very appropriately named Olivia) and you can take the look from day to evening – just swap your flats for a pair of heels. And to switch things up, you can trade jeans for a collared shirt in soft, pre-washed denim. This one from Scotch & Soda is already on sale and all it needs is a pair of dark, angular sunglasses to set it off.
Sunglasses, Le Specs. Printed shirt, Question Air. Necklace, Nakamol. Skirt, Tibi. Foldover clutch, Modalu. Heels, Topshop.
When she wants to take it to another level, Olivia definitely knows the power of slick, sharp separates with a tailored feel. The secret to keeping it interesting is to always add one unexpected element, mixing daytime style with the accessories that you would usually reserve for evening. Think over-the-top necklaces with collared shirts, or a pair of ornate heels with laser cut detailing.
Wear these pieces all together and you’ll look far too matchy matchy, but mixed in with simpler wardrobe staples they become the building blocks of Olivia’s look: this embellished collar from Nakamol is strikingly similar to one that she’s been spotted wearing, and only needs a crisp white shirt to set it off. I can also see her wearing this photo print shirt from Question Air, perhaps tucked into a fluted skirt like this one from Tibi. Heels, a clutch, and dramatic sunglasses are all you need to add.
Pink dress, Whistles. Earrings, Dannijo. Sunglasses, Thierry Lasry. Clutch, McQ by Alexander McQueen. Calf hair sandals, Schutz. Black dress, French Connection.
Forget every ‘less is more’ mantra you’ve ever been told. If you thought Olivia looked pulled together during the day, that’s nothing compared to her love of a sharp cocktail dress. Look out for lace, sheer details and piles of embellishment if you want to steal her after dark style, and don’t be afraid to play up all those textures. This black dress from French Connection has a prom-style skirt completely covered in ruffled crepe – a look that Olivia would definitely approve of.
Just be wary of anything too girlie. As much as she likes to indulge in embellishment and feminine detailing, there’s always a structured element to Olivia’s look which stops it from ever becoming twee. Metallic accessories and cat eye sunglasses will add contrast with a harder edge, as will a knockout piece of statement jewellery. I love these earrings, from Dannijo, which tread a fine line between princess and punk.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that you very rarely see Olivia sporting a red lip or perfect updo. Her barely-there makeup and tousled hair always looks natural and, sometimes, slightly undone. See her wedding photos for inspiration: she looked impossibly chic with her hair pulled back in a simple ponytail. When your style is this dramatic, a relaxed approach to beauty is the key to making it all seem effortless.
Written by Caitlin from The Apéritif