Joe Zee has a hefty resume in the fashion world, one that includes roles like creative director of Elle magazine, celebrity stylist, daytime talk show host and now, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Style. Zee comes to Charlotte Sept. 29 to host a fall fashion show at Neiman Marcus as part of the SouthPark Mall store’s 10th anniversary celebration.
We caught up with Zee just after fashion week to talk about his favorite fall trends, his thoughts on fashion week and what fashion advice women most often seek.
Q: New York Fashion Week just ended. What will you remember most about NYFW 2016?
A: I loved that half of this fashion week was all about See Now/Buy Now. I have been attending Fashion Week since 1990 and I have seen the business and industry change dramatically over the years but more than ever, fashion week has become less an industry event than a real “happening.” Consumers can watch everything in real time via livestream and social media and the desire to get their hands on those items are immediate. So bravo to the designers for pushing to change the business model of how shows are presented. Another big moment is the fashion show as an “event.” I loved Tommy Hilfiger’s Carnival as well as Tom Ford’s intimate dinner to showcase their collections.
Q: What were some of your favorite trends from New York Fashion Week? And what’s a good rule of thumb about incorporating trends into your own wardrobe?
A: I loved all the bold color trends coming out of NYFW. Orange was a huge color trend for spring and that arguably can be a difficult color to wear and same with Big Bird yellow as well, but then we saw a bunch of actresses wear it on the Emmys red carpet in such a beautiful way. I think the key with bold colors is to keep it simple. The color is the statement so you want to keep the silhouettes clean and classic and if bold colors are hard for you (I can understand that because I feel that way too sometimes), then tiptoe into the trend with an accessory. The great things about trends is you don’t have to go from 0 to 60 immediately. Do what you can.
Q: In regard to fall fashion, if a woman wants to invest in one or two pieces for this season (apparel, shoes, a color), what picks do you recommend? How about for men?
A: For women, I would definitely invest in a statement coat. I say this every year but a great coat is something that can make an immediate statement the minute you walk in. Find out what works for you, whether it’s a trench, a bathrobe wrap coat or something cropped. And over-the-knee boots are the biggest shoe choice for fall as well and can look great with everything from jeans to pencil skirts. For men, I would invest in a great grey flannel suit. I love how cozy that looks and you can always break the suit up and wear the pants with a sweater or the jacket with jeans. And of course, I love a great boot for guys as well this fall. Saint Laurent did an amazing pair of cognac suede ones that are simple and just have a tie around the ankle but they also come in all sorts of styles and price ranges everywhere.
Q: You’ve had so many roles in the fashion world. You know how American women feel about fashion. What is it that you think women most grapple with when it comes to fashion, and what advice do you find yourself dispensing the most?
A: I think most women are inundated with choices. We are flooded constantly with trends, ideas, fads and options and it can be a lot of anyone to comb through. Women are constantly asking me, “What would work for me?” Twenty years ago, women just followed the trends. Today, women are creating the trends. I always advise women to just stick with what works for them. The trends are just to guide and inspire you but no one – and this includes the models on the runway – is dressing exactly like the runway. That should just inspire what works best for you in your life.
Q: You’ve been called an “ambassador of fashion” because of how you make fashion relatable to a wide audience. What message(s) about fashion do you most hope your viewers/readers/followers take away from your work?
A: I’ve always wanted to share my love of fashion with everyone. The industry can come across as very elitist and that is intimating for a lot of people and I think that’s just as unfair. We all wake up everyday and get dressed, so on some level, we are all fashionistas. We just need to included in that process of knowing, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do. I want everyone to react in a positive inspiring way to anything I style or comment on. I don’t come from a place of disapproving, but acceptance.