Monika S. Stylist gives us the inside scoop on wedding styling. She had numerous clients in Phnom Penh, Cambodia asking for her expertise on what to wear, sizes, and colors for wedding attire. Styling is her forte and she does it well! Here a few questions many have during wedding season and she graciously answered our questions.
Hi Monika you are a professional stylist located in Phnom Penh, correct? What are things ladies need to know when finding an outfit to attend a wedding as a guest?
Hi Grace, I am indeed a stylist located here in PP.
When looking for the perfect outfit to wear to a wedding, I think it is really important to take into the consideration the location of the wedding- will it be in a church, on the beach or on a vineyard. You want to make sure whatever it is that you decide to wear is appropriate for the occasion, practical and of course stylish. Another thing to consider is weather; there is nothing worse than wearing a dress that the hem comes up in the wind or wearing fabric that stores heat. Again, it is finding the right balance of style and comfort.
What is the best way to know what looks good on someone?
I find the best way to determine what styles look good on someone is to of course ask them what they always tend to wear. Everyone knows what suits their body as well as what makes them feel good.
From a stylist’s point of view, we have to consider:
1. Shape of their body- what cuts and styles to wear and to avoid. How to accentuate the assets and proportion the body.
2. Colour of their skin tone- what lifts the skin (gives you radiance/glow) rather than a colour that dulls it.
3. Lastly fabric, not many people take into consideration or realise choosing the correct fabric for what you wear, elevates and completes an outfit more than any accessory or high heel could.
How far in advance should someone go to a tailor or stylist before the day of the wedding?
As I always encourage 2-3 fittings, I would say at least a month in advance. If you have an existing dress and are getting alterations or restyling 1-2 weeks is generally okay.
What is something someone should never do at a fitting?
There are lots of things people can do wrong at a fitting. Instead, I always make sure to ask my clients to have the appropriate undergarments on (bra and panties) because this gives the perfect size when re-adjusting the bust, also you can see whether it is visible under the fabric or not. Also to bring in the heels or know the heel height to help determine the length of the hemline on the dress.
Do you recommend getting a new outfit or restyling an old outfit for a wedding?
I always encourage and am a huge believer in investing in a versatile dress. I love the idea of designing a bridesmaid’s dress that can be worn after the wedding- whether she restyles it or not. A service I do offer is restyling old outfits. You can change the length of the hem, reconstruct the bodice and bust, add or remove fabric, focus of details- it can be beading or lace, the possibilities are endless! Basically having an old dress restyled, cost a fraction of the price of buying a new dress plus you don’t feel so guilty about wearing something just the one time.
Why is it handy to have a stylist to help with what to wear?
Having a stylist is helpful as we give our professional opinion on what looks good on you and what doesn’t. Having said that, we are able to determine what is going to look amazing on you just by seeing the colour of a dress or feeling the fabric. We know what cuts and styles accentuate the body, select different and a variety of different “look” based on their physical attributes. One example of how stylist can be helpful is we encourage you to try on something you may not like based on appearance but because we know how to dress for different body shapes, it ends up looking fantastic.
What colors should you avoid wearing at a wedding?
I think it is a custom all over the world not to wear white as the bride does but having lived in Cambodia, I have discovered that wearing black (the colour of mourning) or certain colors at weddings is a big no no! It all has to do with traditions and superstitions.
What is new trend you are seeing in your clients who just attended multiple weddings during wedding season?
I started to notice either the ladies went over the top or were too minimal. As it is a Khmer custom to use silk and lace, Khmer, Thai or Japanese silk can be somewhat of a stiff fabric, ladies often tend to stick to a few styles- off the shoulder then fitted fishtail or mid sleeves, fitted waist and peplum. Also mixing colours that would not normally contrast which sometimes works other times over powers the whole look.
You are really great at knowing what will look good for a specific body type, how? Any pointers?
Haha, to be honest I genuinely think it is something you must naturally have to understand or can be taught over a long period of time. I always remember from a young age, being able to look at someone and know what cut or colour to wear as well as how to pair the right accessories and balance the whole outfit.
Some rules to follow:
• darker colours are slimming
• lighter colours tend to highlight problem areas
• if short, choose high waisted outfits as it gives an illusion of longer legs therefore height. Also thin vertical stripes help with slimming and lengthening the shape of the body.
• petite ladies can balance and proportion the body with extra layers and patterns
I feel that colours and fabric also play an important part into what looks great on a person or not.
What do you want to see more of at weddings from a stylist point of view?
Being Khmer myself, as much as I love our traditional wedding attire- 1 piece top & skirt. I would love to see a mix of Khmer style but European fabrics or vice versa. Not only will it freshen and give a modern take on traditional wear, I also just think it would be so comfortable. I am working on a few designs with different fabric, which I hope will be ready before the next wedding season.
What if someone “wants” to lose a bunch of weight before the wedding, how do you work around that? Are some people’s standards to unrealistic?
Firstly, if my client’s goal is to slim down before the wedding, my suggestion would be to lose the weight prior to placing any orders. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a client’s weight fluctuating when you are tailoring a dress to suit their body. If they are unable to reach their desired weight, of course there are some styling tricks, choosing the right cut, colour and fabric to assist in creating a slimmer, more proportioned body shape.
What do you love about helping others by styling them or altering their garments for a wedding day?
One of the main reasons why I love dressing or creating a dress/outfit for someone on such an important day is when you know you have a flawless outfit that makes you feel sexy, elegant, classy and comfortable, it is one less thing to worry about. My nightmare would be to wear something that you always have to adjust, or hold the skirt up to keep from dragging, you want to be able to go about the day and actually enjoy your time.