The art of dressing cool: How to look the part

Feb 20, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

There are some people that just “have it” when it comes to how they dress. No matter where they are, they seem to exude an effortless brand of coolness that immediately makes you want to go home and change! From Olivia Palermo to Kate Moss, what's even more lust-worthy than their clothes is the fact that they look so at ease in them… as if they were born that way. And while “dressing cool” is an innate talent, like most talents, it can be learned. So this week I’m sharing the two pieces that will immediately help you look cool no matter your age or stage.

Oliva Palmero and Elle Macpherson

Leather leggings

No single piece of clothing has more cool appeal than a pair of leather leggings, whether they're of the plush leather or the high tech vegan variety. No longer reserved for rock stars and supermodels, these days almost anyone can benefit from the street cred injection that a well-cut pair of leather leggings brings to anyone who slips them on.

Yes, there’s the historical reference to many of the great (tortured) musicians who wore them as a second skin. But deeper than that, why we love them is that they represent the best of the creative spirit — hard edged and determined and yet soft and fragile. Like the bad boys who have always worn them, they are a thick skin masking a secretly sensitive soul.

Wear it with: These days you can wear leather leggings with practically anything, from oversized rocker tees to a structured blazer to delicate silk chiffon shirts. I’ve even seen a painfully chic Parisian gal wear them with a satin slim line tuxedo blazer to a black tie event and make all the girls in big ball gowns want to go home and cry.

Celebrity examples: Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Kate Bosworth, Heidi Klum

Cut outs

There’s something innately naughty and fascinating about a strategically placed cut out. They hint that there's more to you than meets the eye and tempts the viewer to go in search of this illusive, mysterious other side. Showing everything you have is boring and that’s why they create a sense of mystery, of catching a glimpse of the unobtainable.

Wear it with: Anything from a red carpet gown at a black tie gala to an otherwise conservative silk blouse at work. The key is to show a piece of flesh that’s not hyper sexualized. For example, avoid the cleavage and go for the small of your back.

Celebrity examples: Kerry Washington, Elle Macpherson, Miranda Kerr, Kate Hudson

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Photo credits: Sakura/, Adriana M. Barraza/