Advice for Lakisha on making her style sing

After her outfit draws criticism, stylists offer ways to make her a fashion `Idol'

March 07, 2007|By Carolyn Peirce | Carolyn Peirce,SUN REPORTER

As an early favorite on Fox's American Idol, Fort Meade's Lakisha Jones has been hitting judges and viewers with a killer arsenal: big voice, passionate delivery, sweet personality, compelling story and radiant smile.

But in one area, her aim has missed its mark.

"Can I be honest with you?" acerbic judge Simon Cowell remarked last week. "I don't like the outfit. I found it distracting."

The distraction: An ultra-bright orange, drapey knit top. Short, indigo denim skirt showing a lot of leg. Leopard-print, T-strap platform shoes.

Oops. To make sure style concerns don't take away from Jones' chances, we asked fashion experts for tips to help the 27-year-old bank teller, Michigan native and single mom to dress and look the part of an Idol winner.

Mod culture

Amanda Johnson, assistant costume designer for HBO's Baltimore-set series The Wire, took issue with Cowell's criticism.

Jones "looks fabulous no matter what, because it's about her voice and her talent. I'd really like to tell Simon what to wear," Johnson says. "But, unfortunately, we live in a world concerned with image."

If Johnson could make over Jones, she would play off "mod culture," dolling up Jones in a '60s get-up modernized with today's trends.

Throwing out the orange and bringing in black, Johnson suggests a stiff, black empire-waisted minidress with three-quarter sleeves and white piping on the vertical seams. "This accentuates the length and gives the illusion of an hourglass figure," she says.

She recommends fishnet stockings and black patent-leather go-go boots with a square heel. "Tall boots are empowering to a woman," Johnson says. "When you hear your footsteps in a tall boot, as opposed to a high heel you're uncomfortable in, you walk on stage and feel more confident."

Adding to the distinctive look: styling Jones' hair into "a really fabulous Vidal Sassoon wedge, poofed out in the back and cut on an angle to accentuate her jawbone with pieces in the front." That would slenderize the face and accentuate Jones' best feature, her mouth, Johnson says.

Her face would glow with white eyeshadow, black liquid eyeliner and false eyelashes resembling former model Twiggy. Johnson says the look is "youthful but also sophisticated with a knowledge of old and new."

Adding white plastic earrings in a circle or square shape would keep the focus on her face. The overall impression is sassy and sexy with a mod twist.

Chic rock 'n' roll

Jones just needs some guidance, says Pascale Lemaire, a freelance stylist in Silver Spring. Lemaire placed third on the reality show Style Me with Rachel Hunter, which aired last year on WE.

For a sophisticated rock 'n' roll look, Lemaire says, Jones needs to begin with a good haircut and extensions. She recommends splurging on a great hairdresser, then maintaining the cut at a cheaper salon. "I don't like the sweeping severe part," she says. "Maybe some choppy pieces cut into the face to break things up."

Her understated makeup needs to be revamped, too. "For drama's sake, I would do a dark smokey eye and fresh glossy nude lips," Lemaire says.

And for her stage look, Jones needs clothes with the right cut.

"When people are larger, they wear things that aren't conforming because they think it makes them look thinner, but that's not true," Lemaire says. To accentuate her waist, Jones should try a fitted shirt and a knee-length, A-line skirt. "Straight cuts will hug every curve, and when you're a size 16 and up, you don't need every curve to be shown," she says.

Bold jewel tones in purple or burgundy will pop against her skin. "Black isn't always flattering or slimming; it depends on the cut and style," Lemaire says.

For a touch of elegance, she suggests a pair of pointy boots with a stiletto heel to appear taller and sleeker.

Keep it simple

Dannielle Romano, editor-at-large for, says Jones needs to be comfortable to sing her best: "Simplifying her look will let her voice shine."

Jones is already doing some things right, Romano says.

"I think her hair and makeup have looked pretty great," she says. "I like the glossy lips, as long as she keeps things sleek and simple, so she feels comfortable and put together."

But the ill-fitting wardrobe could use some work, Romano says.

"No matter what your shape, it's important to have clothes that fit well," she says. "The modern T-shirt knits made into dresses drape really beautifully and accentuate curves without looking too tight." Jersey knits and thin cashmere in body-skimming cuts will help sculpt Jones' full figure into a more feminine shape.

Romano says a crisp, fitted oxford shirt is another option for Jones, who should make sure it doesn't look boxy or pucker at the buttons.

A mid-height heel is the best choice for Jones, Romano says. A wedge or a modest platform can help elongate the leg without causing Jones to teeter. Romano says to go for heels with "a cosmopolitan look that's still easy to walk in."

"Talent outshines everything," Romano says. "But why give people a reason to say something? With a few clothing changes, everything will fall into place."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.