Watch and wear

Stumped on style? Short on time? Buy entire outfits at an online retailer or head-to-toe looks put together on TV.

Published May 19, 2007

The idea behind Rooms to Go is genius. You can walk into a showroom, point at the Cindy Crawford Beachside Denim seven-piece living room set and say, "I'll take it."

You don't have to have a style gene in your body. It's coordinated for you. You don't have to spend weeks researching colors, chair styles and table heights. Someone else saved you the time.

The fashion equivalent would be walking into a department store, pointing at a mannequin outfitted from head to toe with clothes, jewelry, shoes, belt, handbag, and saying "Give me all that."

Though department store personal shoppers and boutiques perform this function for the more well-heeled shopper, the industry hasn't done much for the rest of us.

Until now.

Internet retailers have stepped up their efforts to offer head-to-toe outfits. Usually all the options will appear after you click on the link for one particular item; the Gap family sites make it really easy by offering special links to complete outfits.

TV's home shopping networks have long been fertile ground for this concept with their live models decked out in their merchandise. But only recently has QVC given viewers the information for ordering every stitch a model has on when clothes from more than one designer were involved.

HSN, based in St. Petersburg, is taking the concept further.

Two of its newest additions, celebrity stylist-designer Wayne Scot Lukas and the hip, upscale New York boutique Scoop NYC, are combining their designs with items from HSN's other lines specifically to sell head-to-toe outfits on the air and the HSN Web site.

Lukas debuted the concept with his clothing line, Lukastyle, in March.

"It takes the thinking out of shopping but puts the fun back in," Lukas said in late April while hunkered down in a small room at HSN's headquarters putting together looks for his second appearance on the network.

Package deals

Lukas, whose celebrity clients include Janet Jackson, Glenn Close, Tina Turner and Cindy Crawford, designs wardrobe basics: a pencil skirt, a calf-length skirt, an ankle-length sleeveless dress, cardigans, T-shirts, trousers. In the week leading up to his April shows, he spent two days at HSN combining his clothes with accessories from other lines suggested by HSN stylists.

Among the outfits put together one day was a Lukastyle black sheath dress and vanilla cardigan with a boalike scarf from HSN's Hot in Hollywood line and tan and black shoes.

"Do we have pearls for this?" Lukas asked during the process, then elaborated on his question. "You can go to work in the cardigan and the dress . . . and then you add your pearls and there's your office look. Button it up. And then you add your boa scarf to go out."

When the outfit appeared on the air, a Michael Rome leather clutch wallet serving as a handbag had been added. Viewers were told how to order everything but the shoes (but basic black pumps would do the job).

Before air day, HSN model Sonja Ryans was there for Lukas to experiment on. But anyone watching him work could contribute ideas. On this day, that included his personal assistant, a stylist and two network publicists.

"A lot of this is trial and error, " Lukas said. "(Everyone is) allowed to look around and see things. . . . Right now there's four women in the room. And four women have opinions. If I listen to these four women, it's going to help me put this stuff on the air that at least I know that four different women believe in."

For the Web site, 59 outfits are featured on the Lukastyle main page. Click on any one and you get the information for ordering almost every piece.

Picture the possibilities

The logical next question: How else can you use the pieces that make up a packaged outfit?

Easy: With each item of his clothing, Lukas includes photos that show up to 25 ways it can be worn. Though all the clothes in the photos are his, Lukas said he wants women to use them to go through their wardrobes and see what they already own that can make similar outfits. Then they can take their own pictures for reference.

That's what Lukas does with his celebrity clients.

"After I put them in the clothes, I take a photo of them in the clothes, " he said. The celebrity and her assistant each get a book of the photos. "So Glenn (Close) can call from Singapore and say, 'Pack me outfits C, D, F and G, ' and the assistant knows the exact outfits in the closet from the Polaroids. I'm trying to teach women how to do that at home."

This is much more practical than keeping computer spreadsheets of outfit combinations (Lukas has heard of women who do this). The photos have become so popular with HSN customers that the network is creating a book of Lukas' styling tips that will have pockets for them (you can get an inexpensive photo album and make your own reference book, too).

Lukas also is championing Fashion to Go literally. He's working on a garment bag that will have pockets for seven photos to make planning travel outfits easier.

"I think every single woman has so much to do every single day, they don't have time to think about their clothes, " he said.

And more people will see your clothes than will ever see your living room furniture.

Sharon Fink can be reached at (727) 893-8525 and fink@sptimes.com.


On the web


-To check out HSN's buy-by-outfit options, go to www.hsn.com, click on Fashion, then click on Lukastyle.

- Gap and its related brands offer some of the easiest ensemble purchasing online: Oldnavy.com has a "Shop by Outfit" link. Gap.com offers a "New Summer Looks" one. And bananarepublic.com has several under a "Boutiques" heading in its women's section.



See Lukastyle shows next at 8 p.m. May 27 and 11 p.m. May 29. Scoop Style, which debuted Thursday, returns next in July. Check hsn.com for details.

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What's your favorite thrift store?

Let us know what your favorite bay area thrift store is for clothes. We'll check it out for a future Threads. E-mail with "Thrift" in the subject line to fink@sptimes.com write to Threads/Sharon Fink, Newsfeatures/fourth floor, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-1121.