CELEBRITY STYLIST ENGIE HASSAN REVEALS HER SECRETS TO LOOKING GOOD AND FEELING GREAT IN WHAT YOU WEAR.
Fashion stylist Engie Hassan knows what looks good on you. The international stylist has pulled together looks for everyone from Priyanka Chopra to Miranda Kerr to Saudi Arabian Princess Ameerah al-Taweel.
Originally from Egypt, Hassan graduated from FIT with a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management and she found her calling when she worked on a shoot with Karl Lagerfeld during an internship in Paris. In 2010 Hassan launched EngieStyle – a personal styling business designed to help women look great and feel confident in what they wear. She quickly gained an elite clientele that included models, celebrities and prominent businesswomen.
Hassan has a true passion for styling and prides herself in knowing what really does look best on people when it comes to styles, colours, cuts and more. She has a strong focus on making every woman feel confident in what they are wearing and subsequently ensuring they look great. We got to talk to Hassan about some of the mistakes women make and how to improve your own personal style choices.
What is one mistake that you always see women make when it comes to dressing themselves?
A common mistake women make is not dressing for the occasion. One of the very first questions I ask my clients is “what is the occasion?” I remind them to always consider the environment and dress accordingly.
How would you describe the relationship between what we wear and self-confidence?
Personal style and the clothes you choose reflect and affect your mood and overall confidence.
How would you define power dressing?
I always tell my clients that feeling confident and bold in what they’re wearing will accent their personality. That for me is power dressing. Suits are my go-to for power dressing and I typically favour ensembles that are bold and structured. Colour can vary depending on what works with the skin colour of a client, but the silhouette is always fitted and tailored.
For CEO’s I always suggest wearing a suit. A perfectly tailored power suit compliments most silhouettes, while adding a pop of colour and structured accents is always refreshing, and adds a unique quality. I also encourage them to add one memorable piece of jewellery that showcases their personality, such as a bold statement cuff.
For my red carpet clients, power dressing is to inspire, to be noticed and to feel like a celebrity. When a celebrity is on a red carpet they will always be in a sea of others who are getting attention as well. I always try to choose options that won’t only get them noticed, but that will garner headlines for fashion trend coverage. One of my favourite looks was when I dressed Princess Ameerah in a Reem Acra gown with a sheer cape at an event in Dubai in 2014. Yes, capes have been seen on the red carpet from a few celebrities, but it wasn’t something being showcased in The Middle East at that time. The next day there were headlines about it all over the region.
What key points should women consider when dressing for the workplace?
I always tell clients who are professional women – often CEO’s, lawyers and accountants – that appearance translates to performance. Some key points include: Understanding what’s appropriate in your industry. Make sure your clothing fits. Wear rich colours to portray authority. Darker colours usually convey a stronger impression than lighter ones. Dress more conservatively. Not only is wearing inappropriate clothing distracting, it can also give off an inaccurate impression. Don’t over accessorise. Jewellery shouldn’t be distracting.
What common anxieties do you find women have about what they wear?
Many of my clients anxieties have to do with making sure the garment fits to flatter their body and that they look elevated. Most of the time I am dressing clients for a remarkable moment in their life from weddings, to red carpet premieres, to landing the deal of their dreams. These are already stressful milestones, the last thing they need to worry about is the ensemble, but that usually gives the most anxiety because it sets the tone for everything. Many of my clients prefer to FaceTime me right before they are seen in the ensemble for one last glance. Since they trust me they like to hear my thoughts and receive one last confirmation that they look flawless.
Of course many of the women you work with are celebrities or size zero models – do you still find they have body and style worries and if so what are the common ones?
Yes, of course they do. I always say at the end of the day models and celebrities are just like us! They have the same body and style worries as my entrepreneur clients. Some common worries they have include feeling confident in their look, making sure the ensemble fits to their body type and that it works for the occasion they’re going to.
What about plus size clothing – are you seeing much of an offering of that when it comes to luxury?
For the past two years I have been styling campaigns for Eby, a subscription underwear service started by Sofia Vergara. Eby promotes plus size in the most empowering way. In the campaign shots the plus size models are in the same shot as the size 0(US) models and models average at a size 8 (US). While styling for the campaign I’ve been researching and understanding the plus size market a lot more. I do see the offering for plus size growing when it comes to the luxury market, but not in a significant way yet. Slowly but surely it is becoming more available because of consumer demand. According to NPD Group plus size (size 14(US) and up) was a 21.4 billion dollar business last year, compared to 17.4 billion dollar in 2013 which is why I do believe that each year more designers will follow Christian Sirano and Tadashi Shoji by creating sizes and runway looks for plus size.
How do we know what colours suit us best?
First you have to figure out your skin tone. Once you know if your skin colour is warm or cool that will help with figuring out the best colour tones for you. If you have pink or rosy undertones, your skin tone is cool, and clothes with blue undertones will suit you best. If you have golden or apricot undertones, your skin tone is warm, and yellow based hues will flatter you.
What would you say are they styles and cuts that are most flattering on the body?
Every woman’s body is different, but as a rule accentuate your smallest parts with fitted silhouettes or tailoring, while balancing other areas to create contrast. For my client Amani, founder of MuslimGirl.com, for example, I tend to layer and add jackets/blazers on her over dresses and skirts. The jacket usually should hit right below the hip to create the look of a longer, leaner torso. For her appearance in Maroon 5’s music video I wanted to make sure she would stand out so she wore a pop of a colour. While for her red carpet look for the Webby awards I dressed her in a gorgeous black couture gown and paired it with a denim oversize boyfriend jacket. The gown had lots of beading and trimming around the neck and bust to give the wow factor and the denim gave her a youthful fun addition that showed her personality, but also gave her a slender silhouette. We chose a black hijab to also slim her and keep all eyes on the mixing of the couture and casual cool elements of the ensemble.
What is your opinion of the style of Arab women?
I think Arab women have exquisite styling. I am Egyptian and have always been lucky enough to be surrounded by all types of Arab women. I’ve always admired their style. When an Arab women dresses she is telling a story in some way. They take the time to put their ensembles together and I really appreciate how lively and confident their style is. I can always tell they take the time to have a sense of style with their looks, no matter the occasion. They want to stand out and make a statement through their choices. My favourite thing about Arab women’s style is that they love to accessorize. Something I was able to master and make a part of my styling niche. In some countries, especially decades ago, Arab women’s shoes and purses would always be identically matched. I remember going to the boutiques in Egypt and seeing matching shoes and purses being sold. I would be mesmerized seeing the women with accessories that always perfectly matched.
As a business woman, what do you wear on a day-to-day basis?
I am definitely having a suit moment right now. I feel with suits I am able to go to from meetings, to photoshoots, to client fittings all while feeling confident and looking stylish. My suits vary from being structured to having bold colours or unique prints/motifs. On a more casual work day I wear jumpsuits. I find they are flattering for my silhouette, comfortable, and when I accessorise they feel cool and on trend. My accessories always play a big part, giving personality to the look. No matter where I am going for work I always have some kind of accessory on. I consider it my conversational piece which people will remember me by, and it showcases my personality.
What’s you go-to look when you’re glamming up for an event?
I have two go-to looks. It’s usually a sleek long mermaid style or flared-fitted dress that is long sleeve or 3/4 sleeve with a crew neckline. I like how it embodies simplicity and is conservative, giving me room to accessorise to add personality and create a memorable look. I also wear chic jumpsuits on many occasions and I recently wore a Stella McCartney black tuxedo jumpsuit to a red carpet event.
How important are accessories?
Accessories are key! I always tell my clients anyone can wear a black dress, but the accessories will elevate the ensemble to make you stand out and showcase your personality. While building my clients’ wardrobe with basic items, I always emphasize how they have to invest in key accessories so their basics always look fresh and on trend, plus it gives the look variation. A black dress for example, can be worn for many different occasions, depending on the accessories.
Which looks that you have styled are your favourites?
I have many favourites! I feel lucky that many of the looks I have styled have been a milestone for a client and many have received media coverage which can make the look a trend in the industry. But these moments have become iconic for my career:
Whenever I style Princess Ameerah it’s always a joyful challenge. My job is to remember all the royal rules, keeping her classic and timeless, but still relatable, iconic and young. When I dressed her in Zuhair Murad for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton it was one of my favourite career moments ever. Another one of my favourite styling moments with her was when an emerging local designer from Saudi Arabia make her an Abaya. I really love to discover new global designers and give them a platform to shine.
I also had the opportunity to style Priyanka Chopra for one of her first US red carpet appearances. At the time she was already a huge Bollywood star, but she was transitioning to Hollywood. It was thrilling to be a part of this milestone. I love working with clients who have not yet become the A-List or the icon because you have the ability to create and set the tone for who they will be in the public eye. I really love the challenge that comes with styling emerging celebrities because when a client is not so widely known it isn’t as easy to work with any designer of our choice. This is where my personal connections and the trust I’ve earned in the industry becomes more important.
What is the motto that you live by?
I have a few: “What you seek is seeking you,” “Your ensemble is only complete with a smile” and “believe in your dreams, show up on time, don’t give up, work hard and smile.”
What are the biggest challenges you face when you meet with a new client?
One challenge I face when I meet with a new client is making sure they trust me. Once the trust is there anything is possible!
What would you like every woman to remember when it comes to styling themselves?
Styling is all about showing your personality, making yourself stand out and feel special. Take the extra minute to accessorise.
ENGIE’S STYLING TIPS
Most importantly know your body and your proportion.
When it comes to proportion wearing full or round shapes on top and bottom will make you look more fuller and rounder. Always accentuate your smallest part by balancing the other areas. For example balance a pair of wide leg pants with a fitted shirt.
If your body isn’t a size that can be bought off the hanger get the item fitted properly to ensure the fit. Sometimes a dress can be fitted on the chest but not at the waist line or hips for example so be sure to take in these areas in order to have a proper fit.
Blazers that are hip-length with tailored lines will look sleek; ones that are too baggy or that pull are figure-flattering disasters. Tapered blazers will always whittle your waist.
When it comes to skirts choose shapely, fitted styles. The cut of a pencil skirt makes all bodies look sleek.
For many of my clients, especially the more conservative ones, I always recommend adding long cardigans. Waist length cardigans tend to shorten your body while long, hip-grazing versions make your torso seem long.
Dress denim jeans with heels. This will make you look longer and leaner. The most flattering jeans are usually straight-leg or boot-cut jeans that sit on your hips.
Always tuck in your shirt!
Invest in a pump that matches your skin tone. Even if you’re dressing more conservatively, the shoe will elongate your body to look leaner and taller.
Always add jewellery. Something bold like a necklace or bracelet takes the attention away from curvy body-areas that might attract the eye first.
Layer darker colours under lighter ones.
Wide belts usually will make you look smaller than skinny belts.
I recommend V-neck dresses that are cinched at the waist. It can even be a wrap dress.
Choose prints wisely. Prints aren’t as slimming as solid colours but you can make them work for you if know how. The smaller the print, the smaller you look.
Do not wear super-fitted clothing. I always tell my clients no matter their age, anything that is too fitted will not allow you them to look and feel slim because they are showcasing their exact proportions.
Don’t wear a colour that’s too close in tone to your skin colour.