Fashion consultant Roopal Patel’s resumé reads like a who’s who of the luxury retail world: Her stints include serving as senior fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, senior fashion director for Neiman Marcus and the executive fashion director at Moda Operandi. Now that she’s on her own at Roopal Patel Consulting, Patel is bringing her hard-won expertise to an array of clients. And as a mentor to designers in the CFDA, she believes in spreading the wealth of knowledge; recently she hosted a Pay it Forward dinner, bringing together fledgling and established designers to build a strong support system. “The more information designers can have and the more connections that are made for them, the better they are,” she says. “In the end, it helps all of us.” Patel’s philosophy is in sharp contrast to fashion’s stereotypical reputation. “People always say to me, ‘Oh my god, you work in such a cutthroat industry,’ ” says Patel. “Actually, fashion is a very nurturing industry. We take care of our own and we support each other.” Here, Patel tell us her work wardrobe philosophy.
Up for a Challenge
Most of my day is dedicated to meeting and seeing clients. I usually start my day with a workout and then I might have a breakfast meeting and then run to the office for a few hours, then a lunch meeting, and then I might head to showrooms and walk through a collection. I try to have a day-to-evening component to my outfit, because I often have to meet clients for cocktails or go to an event.
Right now I’m obsessed this Altuzarra striped shirtdress. I could live in that. It’s really beautiful to wear during the day. With my Mansur Gavriel bag and Céline wedges, it’s a little bit more work-oriented. For evening, I’ll swap the wedges for great Alaïa sandals, and carry a graphic Celine clutch—easy changes that allow you to feel more dressed up. I also love Proenza Schouler’s long skirts with pleats or fringe because you can wear them casually in the day with a short jacket and a chunky sneaker or you can dress them up with a strappy heel and a great leather jacket.
I have two sides to my personality and fashion supports that—one side is very minimal and the other side is colorful and vibrant and loves prints. I can wear a superchic white crisp tuxedo shirt from Céline with Céline black tuxedo pants and feel really confident and professional without standing out too much. But when I go out at night I like to be a little bit more daring, so I’ll wear a bold stripe from Rosie Assoulin or one of her floral patterns—you know, have fun with it, which is what I think fashion is about. Fashion influences me, or rather it challenges me, to wear novelty items that I might not otherwise. For instance, that Céline fringe sweater—I still haven’t figured out how to wear that but I’m up for the challenge.
Different Cities, Different Clothes
I travel a lot for work—sometimes I’m meeting with clients in Paris, Los Angeles, or London, and when I’m there my schedule is much more hectic. No day is the same. Even if I plan my day, it’s so unpredictable. I have a tendency to overpack because it’s been my experience that you can be called to a great cocktail party at the last minute or have three extra days added to your original itinerary. So more is better. I like to have a couple classic go-to dresses and blazers. I love a good white jean from Rag & Bone—I always travel in a white jean for some reason, with a great black sweater or black turtleneck from The Row that’s cozy and a little blazer. And then I take Céline espadrilles in leopard or high-top Vans.
I absolutely dress differently in different cities. In New York City, I tend to dress up with heels and a great dress. When you go to L.A. the vibe is a bit more mellow and low-key. The culture is much more jeans and T-shirt, which is still a little foreign for me being a New Yorker. So in L.A., I always take my Vans out, and I might pair those with an Isabel Marant miniskirt or a little sweater or a denim jacket or a cargo jacket—very relaxed and casual. In London or Paris, it’s not as fashion. That’s where my minimal fashion sensibility comes in. It’s a bit more classic, a bit more tailored.
Pay It Forward
With evening I always like to wear something unique and special and maybe a little under the radar. Last month I hosted a Pay It Forward dinner that brought together a great group of designers from Derek Lam, Suno, the Tome boys, Rosie Assoulin, Misha Nonoo—the idea being that they could ask each other questions about the business and just connect and relate at a time between collections when everyone has a little time for that. To that I wore a Katie Ermilio two-piece ensemble: a beaded bandeau (basically a very chic beaded bustier top) with a full embroidered skirt, Alaïa shoes and a cuff from Dezso by Sara Beltrán.
I tend to gravitate towards separates for evening, I like to not be so traditional. I love jumpsuits and tuxedos. I think the key to wear a tuxedo is to pay attention to proportion. It’s all about proportion. And with tuxedos there’s always a tendency to feel too clean, so I think you really have to get the right shoe—maybe a velvet shoe from Gianvito Rossi, or a deep satin purple, or a great pink—to add a little twist and adding a little shine with jewelry or a clutch. I like novelty clutches, or something with a bold pattern. As for jewelry, I’m pretty minimal. I wear Gaia Repossi’s stacked rings and I love a cuff—Maiyet has a great one and I love the Elsa Peretti for Tiffany’s one. For me, one great piece of jewelry is enough.
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