Most stylish New Yorkers: Emily Bess

Lots of layering and juxtaposing aesthetics are the keys to the stylist's edgy ensembles.

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  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "I love the shape of this jacket: The shoulders and waistline are very defined, giving a feminine edge to a classic men's pin-striped blazer," notes Bess, who purchased the blazer from Fluke Vintage. She throws it over a Natalie and Alanna sheer blouse and pairs it with American Apparel riding pants. "I don't know how pants this tight can be so comfortable!" she marvels.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    Bess cinches her waist with a belt from Fluke Vintage. "I kind of feel like a Native American superhero when I wear it," she says. To create her "French vamp" manicure, Bess layers a glitter polish over matte black lacquer. "It holds a practical function in addition to aesthetic value," she explains. "Glitter nail polish is stronger than matte black, so my manicure ends up lasting longer with glitter tips."

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    A two-tone Bailey of Hollywood fedora from Daffy's (locations throughout the city; visit daffys.com) caps off the look. Bess stuck a few vintage ostrich feathers in the topper for added panache.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "These booties are the perfect embodiment of the uptown-downtown balance that defines my personal style," enthuses Bess of her Walter Steiger (waltersteiger.com) leopard-print kicks.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

     A vintage corset from Beacon's Closet and black skinny jeans from 3x1 (15 Mercer St between Canal and Grand Sts; 212-391-6969, 3x1.us) form the basis of Bess's badass look. She then layers an Adrienne Landau fur vest that was a gift from her mother under a denim vest that she discovered in the children's section of Pittsburgh shop Red White and Blue Thrift Store (redwhiteandbluethriftstore.com). "It was a jacket, and at some point, I decided to cut off the sleeves for a tough-chick effect," she recalls. "It layers well over sweaters and other vests."

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    Bess does double duty with a pair of chain belts from Fluke Vintage. "When I layer them together, I can create a 1980s-Chanel-goes--Purple Rain effect," she marvels.

     

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    This mirrored necklace is the creation of Bess's friend Jaclyn McCoubrey, who cofounded vintage line the Perfect Perfect (theperfectperfect.etsy.com).

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "The shape of these earrings is fresh and pairs well with other gold accessories," reflects Bess of the Melody's Addiction (melodysaddiction.etsy.com) earrings that she discovered at the Brooklyn Flea (176 Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; brooklynflea.com).

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    A lacy camisole from Beacon's Closet gets tucked in to a patchwork A-line skirt from Made New York (441 Metropolitan Ave between Marcy and Meeker Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 347-987-4729, ilovemade.com), but it's Bess's vintage coat that pulls everything together. "The kimono-esque cut and metallic pattern really make this coat a standout piece," gushes Bess. "It feels classy, elegant and avant-garde; I like to call it my wizard coat."

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    Bess models another pair of earrings from the Perfect Perfect.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "It's reversible red and black!" exclaims Bess, referring to her vintage belt that was a gift from her stepfather.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    While styling an orphan-themed fashion story for Twill magazine (twill.info), Bess purposely ripped these stockings from Century 21 (locations throughout the city; visit c21stores.com). "I love how the holes complement the more businesslike striped fishnets," she says. A Cosabella (cosabella.com) garter holds everything up.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    A double-breasted coat from Fluke Vintage lends boyish charm to a feminine cropped blouse scored at Beacon's Closet, where Bess also discovered her acid-wash, ripped jeans.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "What can I say: I'm a sucker for status print!" admits Bess, referring to her matching Fendi belt and clutch from Neiman Marcus.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    This chunky beaded necklace is yet another unique find from the Perfect Perfect.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    Melody's Addiction geometric earrings provide a graphic pop.

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    "I love the cowgirl-meets-city feel of these boots," says Bess, who purchased the shoes from Neiman Marcus.

Photograph: Ilenia Martini

"I love the shape of this jacket: The shoulders and waistline are very defined, giving a feminine edge to a classic men's pin-striped blazer," notes Bess, who purchased the blazer from Fluke Vintage. She throws it over a Natalie and Alanna sheer blouse and pairs it with American Apparel riding pants. "I don't know how pants this tight can be so comfortable!" she marvels.

Emily Bess, fashion stylist (emilybess.com); Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Her personal style: "A little uptown, a lot of downtown and never midtown."

Her inspiration: "Each time I conjure up an outfit, I am inspired first and foremost by comfort. For me, fashion is meant to be fun, and I can't have fun if I feel uncomfortable. My level of comfort depends mostly on a sense of emotional certitude that a combination of pieces creates, which I've noticed can change from day to day. So while a corset, tight jeans and two belts might feel right one day, the very same outfit might feel off the next day without a mirrored pendant necklace. I know instantly when I've found the right combination of pieces: A wave of serenity passes over me. For me, playing dress-up is truly a spiritual process of self-expression!"

Favorite stores: "Fluke Vintage (169 Wythe Ave between North 5th and 6th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-3166) is my favorite New York City vintage store. Caren Castleman, the owner, has a knack for selecting pieces with patterns and fabrics that are intriguing and often tongue-in-cheek, and she alters some of her finds to make any dated silhouettes look fresh. Beacon's Closet (92 Fifth Ave at Warren St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-230-1630 * 88 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-0816 * beaconscloset.com) is where I purchase a lot of my clothing. It houses a great selection of vintage and is super affordable. Plus, I have a lot of success exchanging my clothing for store credit there. Since Beacon's deals in high-volume, it is crucial that I practice patience and diligence when searching through its selection—it's almost a meditative practice. I also begin my searches without any expectations; that way, I am not disappointed and can find the magical gem in what can seem like an insurmountable mountain. Bond 07 by Selima (7 Bond St between Broadway and Lafayette St; 212-677-8487, selimaoptique.com) carries some of the most unique pieces I own, including a neon yellow-and-maroon, silk-and-sequined, houndstooth bomber jacket by Ashish. I love the creativity and humor of the selection owner Selima [Salaun] carries, particularly because her finds are so rare."

Favorite salons: "Katie Riesco at Arrojo Studio (180 Varick St between Charlton and King Sts; 212-242-7786, arrojostudio.com) cuts my hair. Katie is a genius; she is a great listener and is the sweetest. I usually have my nails done at Cutie Calls (729 Metropolitan Ave between Graham and Manhattan Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-388-1700). I also like to splurge and have Naomi Yasuda at Hello Beautiful (218 Bedford Ave at North 5th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-387-4732, hellobeautifulsalonnyc.com) bling my nails."

Her signature accessory: "I would have to say that it's the Art Deco--Art Nouveau jewelry tattoo on my left forearm. The design is a collaboration among myself and artists Michelle Tarantelli of Saved Tattoo (savedtattoo.com) and Gene Coffey of Tattoo Culture (tattooculture.net)."

Favorite designers: "Natalie and Alanna's (natalieandalanna.com) creations embody a harmony between contrasting design elements. These women are truly gifted artists, and they understand the power of combining a touch of uptown to their downtown."

How she describes New York style: "I developed an eye for composition, proportion and color in clothing while studying at Columbia University, but it was the streets of New York—like an urban catwalk—that groomed me in the art of personal expression and freedom in dress. I always had a passion for playing dress-up, so when I came to New York at the age of 18, I felt like I found my niche. I was often judged by the way I dressed when living in my hometown, so New York enabled me to embrace the ideology that there are no rules. I remember feeling so exhilarated, for example, when I saw a woman on the subway wearing white pumps with white stockings after Labor Day, and when I witnessed a chicly dressed shop girl in Nolita wearing a sheer, navy-blue shift paired with black shoes and a black belt. I am sure that many fellow New Yorkers have found liberation in their own niche. I am so grateful to live in this city and for the freedom it allows me to express my personal style, which is my daily guarantee for artistic expression."

How her style has evolved through the years: "My style has been impacted mostly through living in New York City. New York has enabled me to become more adventurous and playful without having to make any apologies for just being myself!"

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alida lanni
alida lanni

<3 Beautiful pictures....brava la mia Ilenia !