Leslie Christen started confusing her family early.
Some days she'd wear mismatched shoes or pants and shirts with clashing patterns. But she was also likely to pick a dress and pair it with a headband and loafers.
"I might not have really understood what styling was, but I knew it was what I wanted to do," she said. "I was a real risk-taker ... discovering who I was through [clothes], and I viewed it as being a artist."
The Laguna Beach resident and veteran fashion stylist flaunts a more classic style now, but she's not above putting together an edgy ensemble as a throwback to her childhood.
Christen, the founder of an independent styling company, Leslie Christen LifeStyling, is also at the helm of an eponymous website where she offers fashion tips and insights on trends and designers. In addition, she works with a lengthy list of clients whose likes and dislikes, lifestyle, body challenges and personal tastes she strives to understand. This works in her favor whether she's building an entire wardrobe, creating an outfit for an event or organizing a closet.
"I always say, 'If you look good, you feel good,'" said Christen, a fashion contributor to Riviera and OC Family magazines and other local publications. "The looks on my clients' faces when they finally have something to wear and feel confident is priceless to me. I can't tell you how many calls and texts I have received after a client gets dressed in the morning with a new or planned outfit. It's a life-changer for some."
The Laguna Beach High School graduate believes that a closet is incomplete without a classic white button-up, a pair of black shoes and a meaty selection of blazers. And although hers is packed tightly with a neutral color palette, she is also a fan of statement necklaces, bangles, gold brogue shoes that her 4-year-old selected, non-toxic makeup from Roots in Laguna Beach and bold-hued vegan, cruelty-free Adorn nail colors.
Christen, whose local haunts include Bardot and A'marees in Newport Beach and her hometown's Aris on the Coast and Laguna Supply, discussed fashion with the Coastline Pilot. Below is Christen's guide to styles for the spring.
Christen suggested high contrasts like black and white as well as soft pastels, metallics and bold prints in bright colors. Other favorites are cobalt blue, pink (in both vibrant and blush tones), Radiant Orchid (Pantone's "Color of the Year 2014") — and "white, white, white."
Athletic wear like jogging pants in leather, silk and cotton, tennis skirts and muscle tees, and tennis shoes are in vogue along with full skirts — between midi and maxi — and fringe and sheer details. For the brave, Christen recommended crop tops, but with a caveat, "Don't invest in one — this is definitely a fad." Classic shirt dresses in crisp white or Oxford blue, wide-leg pants and shift blouses, which she described as "a boxy, elevated, dressy version of a classic T-shirt," are other popular items.
Flats like Birkenstock, slip-on mules and sneakers are perfect for springtime activities, Christen said, but platforms with a chunky heel are also crowd-pleasers.
Pinks, whites and high-contrast in bright blue or even black have caught on, she remarked.