Stylist Wendy McNett’s Secrets to Summer: Closed Set With Julie Bensman

Wendy McNett

Nothing like 86 degree weather to make you hate all your spring clothes from last year #timetogoshopping – @JulieBensman

The above was a tweet I posted during a freakishly warm day April 16th. Now that Memorial Day has unofficially ushered in the start of summer, guess what? I still hate all my spring clothes from last year.

I can start my day the perfect way — great yoga class, leisurely breakfast, no emergencies at work — and have all that go to hell in a handbasket as soon as the outfit hunt commences. Sure, I probably should be laying out ensembles the night before as every women’s magazines advises, but, come on, who actually does that? And how can I be expected to when my inventory is so uninspiring?

Wendy McNettFor the sake of preserving my fashion sense and yoga-induced Zen, I sought professional help in the form of stylist Wendy McNett. Her portfolio showcases work with clients like Saks Fifth Avenue and L’Oreal, plus celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal and Heidi Klum. If anyone can pull me out of this fashion funk, it’s got to be an expert.

Julie Bensman: What are the top three pieces I should be buying for summer?

Wendy McNett:

  1. A flowy, asymmetric hemmed dress. It's the standard summer dress with an edge.
  2. A stylish, comfortable wedge sandal. Wedges make an impact but are sturdier than heels. I love Miu Miu's metallic-trimmed leather version.
  3. A small, bright cross body bag. Color will rev up any outfit, plus the small size makes it hands-free and lightweight — perfect for summer when you're more active.

JB: What’s the best ensemble to wear to a concert? A wedding? A weekend at your boyfriend’s parents’ house?

WM: It depends which concert you're going to! 1) Dress according to the music: A Coachella hippie chic outfit might be out of place at a Madonna concert 2) Dress for comfort: You want to be able to move around and dance.

Weddings are celebrations of romance…a cocktail dress with a romantic feel usually works best. Just don't wear white!

For a weekend at your boyfriend's parents’ house, you want to look put-together but avoid anything too sexy. Think crisp white jeans, a pretty blouse and flat sandals.

JB: Who are some up-and-coming designers I should have my eye on?

WM: Two of my favorites are Brood by Serkin Sarier and Jeffery Williams, who just won Bravo's The Fashion Show.

JB: I love the way you dress — how would you describe your own sense of style?

WM: Fashion should always be fun! I like to mix designer pieces with more basic items, like a gold-trimmed linen Miu Miu bag with colored H&M shorts. Since I'm always on my feet when I'm working on shoots, I need to be comfortable, so I favor jeans and t-shirts by designers like Helmut Lang and Rag & Bone. If I'm going to a party at night, I'll bust out a fancy party dress by Stella McCartney or Alexander Wang.

JB: What’s the last thing you googled?

WM: Hotels in Montauk…I’m trying to get out there for July 4th weekend!