Designer offers her best tips for accessorizing on the go

06/13/2011 12:00 AM

06/13/2011 12:06 AM

I admit it. I obsessed a bit over what to wear for my interview with Cate Adair. After all, as the Emmy-nominated costume designer for "Desperate Housewives," she dresses some of the most beautiful women in the world.

I can barely pull myself together. What if I had to dress multiple people several times a day, all with distinct styles? That is what Cate does during the 10 months the show is filming.

"A good show is just four to five outfits for each housewife," she says. "A harder one is when I have to create eight to 12 for each character."

Travelgirl asked Cate for some of her best tips for accessorizing on the go. She also clued us in on where she thought the "DH" girls would go on a girlfriend getaway.

Even though Cate is credited with influencing fashion trends worldwide, she chats with you like an old girlfriend, one with whom you'd love to gossip while sharing a coffee on Wisteria Lane. And yes, I was a bit thrilled when she asked me about my jeans. And like I would with a close girlfriend, I told her my secret. They were Levi's. From Costco.

Q: What are some current trends in accessories?

A: Accessories are big right now because they have such versatility. When an outfit isn't coming together the way I'd like, I often tie in a bracelet, scarf or earrings. You can layer on necklaces and bracelets, and mix and match. I was recently wearing more than one Chamilia bracelet and felt like if I was in a bar brawl I could smash somebody! (Cate was on a tour with the jewelry company.)

Fashion is very diverse right now so you have the freedom to wear what feels right. For example, with belts — both thin and wide belts are in style, so select one that suits you. One trend that has surprised me is that leopard print is still in. I used it three years ago and thought it would be gone by now.

Q: Tell us about scarves, which seem to be really in right now.

A: I'm a big fan of scarves. Invest in a great color and you can use it as a wrap on the plane, a sarong on the beach or take it out in the evening. I have one with all my favorite colors I use all the time. I have scarves in Indian silk, cotton and whisper cashmere.

Q: Picking out the right handbags and shoes is always a challenge when we travel. Any suggestions?

A: I suggest taking one big handbag and slipping a smaller one inside of it to travel. You may want to go down the status scale a bit to get a really sturdy one. If you aren't sure about your choice, ask your shoe repair guy which bag he thinks will hold up better against the rigors of travel.

As for colors, I often use either black or brown for day and a neutral such as gray, platinum or taupe for night. I do the same thing with my shoes, traveling with a neutral pair. You will often see a nude or burnished color shoe on the girls on the show — those shades make your legs look longer.

A pop of color with your shoes can be great, but the rule is you want people's eyes to come to your face eventually. And you really want something you can walk in. There is nothing worse than miserable feet. Women are pretty good at handling pain, but foot pain is just slightly below the pain of a toothache _ and I've had both. Some shoes look great on the runway, but don't feel so great in the real world.

Q: What is the one accessory that you always travel with?

A: A hat! You have to look after your skin. Oh, and a fab pair of earrings.

Q: What is your perfect travel outfit?

A: Something soft and layered. I always pack a little cashmere too. It's very light and warm.

Q: Any more packing tips?

A: I am also a personal consultant and when I help clients pack, I first look at the weather, lay out all the outfits and then pick out accessories. I line up their jewelry then match it to the outfits.

Q: Any final tips?

A: My best tip is to just have fun with fashion. If you like to play, take the opportunity when you travel to re-invent yourself a little bit; explore a different side of yourself.

One lesson women can learn from "Desperate Housewives" is that self-expression is a large piece of fashion. Take an extra five to 10 minutes to make that extra effort.

We women don't often give ourselves permission to look after ourselves, so I say treat yourself to that facial or piece of jewelry.

When you are buying clothes, look at your pieces as either investment or throwaway, and pick and choose, but don't be a slave to all of it. And just because you see something in a magazine doesn't mean you should wear it.

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