looking good

The importance of being clothes-minded

Tanya and Lynn

By Kristen Jensen

“At a recent high school reunion, one of my friends said, ‘You look exactly the same as you did 42 years ago,’” says Tanya Obertone while chatting at a swanky cocktail party last summer. This blond beauty from Pound Ridge was stuck in a preppy-style time warp, replete with grosgrain hair bands and Polo shirts, collar-up. “But I don’t want to look exactly the same as I did when I was 17. I’m almost 60!”
Tanya grew up in Arlington, Virginia, which like Bedford, Edgartown, and Nantucket, is one of the capitals of preppydom. Her wardrobe consisted of designers John Norwich, Lady Bug, and Villager. As she approached her seventh decade, her closet still bemoaned lots and lots of Lilly and L.L. Bean. Time for a change.

While on assignment last spring at a benefit, wearing, admittedly, a poorly planned and accessorized outfit, I met photographer Lynn Cesaria. As we darted about the event getting shots and quotes, she mentioned that she was also an image consultant and personal stylist. Daring her to give me a critique of what I had on, she lambed right in. “The shoes are way off. You should be wearing a sexy, strappy sandal. Your jewelry is completely wrong. You need to wear something with pop—and it doesn’t have to be Harry Winston. I do like your dress though. It’s by Skirtin Around, and you got it in New Canaan.”

Okay, I got it in Edgartown, but Lynn nailed everything else. She’s good, I thought to myself as my three-inch high heel pumps suddenly felt like they were below sea level.

A few months later, I accepted Lynn’s invitation to go consignment shopping. She instantly revealed an acute laser vision for spotting great items on the racks. Having grown up in Westchester, she had been groomed by her mother to recognize, as the magazine coined it, a “Glamour Don’t” from a “Glamour Do.”

After taking classes at FIT and the School of Fashion Design in Boston, Lynn got a job at Saks Fifth Avenue and went from men’s furnishings to the designer salon. “I was privileged to have a boss who noticed my talent and let me do my thing,” says the Southport-based fashion maven. “I was a personal shopper before the term even existed. My clientele had such faith in me that I had full access to the store. Eventually, I took care of my clients’ entire family’s fashion needs.”

Lynn went on to work for several renowned designers, catalogs, and photographers. She soon learned that she also had a passion for photography. Her image, styling, and personal shopping acumen caught the eye of Town & Country, where she was noted for her “uncanny ability to realize her clients’ full potential.”

Back at the benefit, while I had initially thought Lynn a complete beeyotch for giving me a rippin’ sartorial score, I knew she had the talent to take me to the next step. And, at some point, all of us girls are ready to start looking like grown-ups. I was reminded of last summer’s cocktail party conversation with Tanya and her being locked into a dated look. Time to introduce Tanya to Lynn.

For her makeover, we all met at Tanya’s place on a Saturday afternoon. Lynn schlepped in bags filled with outfits. She showed Tanya how to morph her prep style into one of élan without breaking the bank. If something didn’t look good, Lynn would exclaim, “Yuckadiggle.” We came to learn that meant, “Quick, take it off!”

Lynn is a veritable fount of great makeup and accessorizing tips. And, if you want the Dior look, she will deliver the real goods—not cheap imitations—for an unbelievable price. Need a perfect purse for that outfit you’re wearing to the opera? Lynn props, styles, and pulls it all together on a limited budget.

“Tanya has a completely updated look,” says Lynn. “She now walks into a room and people ask, ‘Who is that?’ Her new statement is sheer elegance, and she has the self-possession and poise to carry it off.”

As for Tanya, she is transformed. “Lynn’s positive nature as a stylist helped me see that I don’t have to completely change to evolve. I’m ready to let go of my preppy-look of the past and become a fashionable, sophisticated woman.”

Buh-bye, Bass Weejuns. Hello, Prada!

Tanya at 60 is chic, chic, chic.

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