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Celeb stylist: Embrace your 'true colors' this season

By Ashley Strickland, Special to CNN
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
Designer Nanette Lepore lit up the runway with her vivid collection for spring and summer 2012. Perennial spring pastels were paired well with bright 'hyper-Popsicle' tones.
Designer Nanette Lepore lit up the runway with her vivid collection for spring and summer 2012. Perennial spring pastels were paired well with bright 'hyper-Popsicle' tones.
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Spring into new trends
Spring into new trends
Spring into new trends
Spring into new trends
Spring into new trends
Spring into new trends
David Zyla
'The Color of Style'
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Zyla writes in "The Color of Style" that individuals have "true colors" that suit them
  • This spring, he recommends draped skirts, baroque patterns and shades of white
  • He's excited by designers Tracy Reese, Jay Godfrey and Nanette Lepore

(CNN) -- David Zyla remembers when he was 5 years old and his parents were getting ready for a dinner party. He spied his mother reaching for a necklace, and he recommended that she wear a different one.

Then he turned to his father and boldly suggested he wear a different tie with his shirt -- and not be afraid to mix patterns.

"That was the moment," Zyla said. "I think I was instinctively choosing things that suited them more. I've always felt there was an appropriateness for each person."

It is no surprise that Zyla followed his passion to New York University to study costume design, then pursued a career in fashion. For a new season of warm-weather fashion trends, the Emmy-winning stylist is sharing his "Style DNA" philosophy that has aided his celebrity clients.

In Zyla's eyes, not only is each person unique in their appearance, but they have "true colors" that are inherent, and indicative of their personality and style -- found in a person's eyes, hair and skin tones. The stylist also offers help in his book, "The Color of Style," which came out in paperback last year.

Zyla sat down with CNN for an interview last week to talk about spring and summer fashions, how to wear them in your own way and why everyone should embrace their true colors. The following is a transcript edited for length and clarity.

CNN: What is your style philosophy?

Zyla: If you think about it like this, you are the subject of a great painting and what you chose to fill in around you illuminates you, or it can make you recede. I feel there has been a lot of mystery around what looks good on people. My goal with all of this is I really believe that everyone has the right to look and feel fantastic. Everyone loves compliments, especially the compliment "You look great," as opposed to "Great fill-in-the-brand-name-skirt-here."

Color is not that much of a commodity -- it's attainable and the perfect way to express who we are.

Your clothes and color should be used as raw materials to illustrate you -- you are the focal point. Your skin tone is your skin tone, you can either embrace it and illuminate it, or you can distract from it.

Your skin, eyes and hair exist as givens, then you fill in the rest around it. It's very important to be who we are, we're all so unique, and I really want to triumph the individual.

CNN: What are those key looks for spring and summer?

Zyla: One of the things I would say is an important piece is the draped skirt. If you never have worn a pencil skirt, and you know it's not your best, don't do a draped pencil skirt. But if you always wear a-line and feel great in it, do a draped a-line skirt if you want to update. Take the trends and customize them for you.

Also, white is a huge thing right now, which every couple of years it comes back, and this year is a more diaphanous approach where you're layering and so on.

Individualize it by choosing your white. If you never wear stark white, and you look better in ivory, wear ivory. You don't have to follow the trends to the runway level, you should follow them to the customized version of you level. The way to find your white is you should match the white of your eyes.

Another big trend are baroque patterns -- big chains and medallion prints. These very large prints can be overpowering. A great rule of thumb is if the print repeat is bigger than your head, it's too large. If you are someone who feels much better in solids, do it in an accessory -- a scarf or handbag that has that print on it.

CNN: Were there any designers whose styles you were particularly excited to see in the spring or summer collection?

Zyla: There are several. Tracy Reese makes me excited every year. The fact that she creates the scale of the collection that she does every year and it has just enough theatricality to it to make the pieces stand out, yet they don't look like costumes. She really is a talented designer with the perfect mix -- the balance is fantastic.

I also love the dress designer Jay Godfrey. His dresses for spring are completely up-to-the-minute exciting, and a variety of silhouettes.

Nanette Lepore is very good, I'm loving what I'm seeing there. I really think it is a very exciting spring season. The reason I'm excited about the designers I'm mentioning is they aren't just connected to one thing, they are doing nice variety.

CNN: How do you embrace your style amidst the changing seasons?

Zyla: Dressing in layers is always a good idea and prepare for what you're going to do that way as well. Atlanta, San Francisco, there area a lot of cities like this where each particular day can be drastically different. Throw a sweater in your bag, dress with a layer that can come off and think ahead of time.

The best thing to do is think about the fabric of your clothing. As beautiful as linen is, it's not going to last until lunch -- it's going to be a wrinkled mess. Cotton is going to breathe. Natural fabrics that have a little weight to them are always going to be your friend because they will last through the day.

CNN: Because the styles are more open this season, are there any key pieces that a lot of people can wear?

Zyla: One of the trends is very bright, neon, what I call hyper-Popsicle colors -- very, very vivid, and I would say that if you want to have that, take one of the colors the looks great on you, and do it in an unexpected piece, like a skirt or coat.

A lot of times, we think of these vivid colors in accents or smaller things, I think this is the season to embrace the vividness. I'm not saying just because tangerine tango is the color of spring that everyone should wear it. If the brightest color on your palette is an American beauty rose pink, why don't you use that in an unexpected way? Wearing a color that doesn't suit you, you're not going to be comfortable.

CNN: What do you address in your book, "The Color of Style"?

Zyla: I address the idea that we all have an authentic style and true colors. In the first part of the book, I lead you to finding these true colors and what is your dramatic, romantic and energy color, and they all do very different things. Some make you feel very friendly and approachable, some make you feel sexy.

In the second part, I lead you to one of 24 archetypes -- I believe there are 24 archetypes of women.

With each archetype, I give you fragrance ideas, style ideas, fabrics, artists that represent your type, the must-haves, the must-avoids, the super power and the kryptonite. It's a read on the personality as well and really how to put a palette and a wardrobe together. In part three of the book, I teach you how to utilize all of these tools in shopping and cleaning out your closet. When you shop, do it with intention. And I also lead you to how to dress for every occasion.

I really want people to honor their true colors and honor who they are in their authentic style. Then, I want them to really love themselves and flourish with this material.

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