Chris Benz's Tips for Dressing Younger

Are you trapped in the fashion past? Here’s how one woman added a few key pieces and, with the help of designer Chris Benz, became slimmer, sexier and 10 years younger overnight.

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Before: Diane Herbst, Journalist

You can’t look current when your clothes are older than Justin Bieber. Diane Herbst, 51, purchased this ensemble many years ago, and even then the jacket was too large. “I haven’t shopped because I don’t know what to buy,” she admits. “I know I could look better, but I don’t know what looks good on me.” Designer Chris Benz, a master of modern separates, finds better shapes for her body, plays with proportion and even re­invents that blazer.


Jacket: “A modern silhouette is shrunken,” not oversize, says Benz. “But black and white is classic. Tailoring could transform this.”


Skirt: Baggy design plus chiffon fabric equals “granny,” Benz declares.


Shoes: Flats are comfy and can even be chic—but in Benz’s view, nothing says “youthful” like heels. (They make legs look longer and sexier.) 

Eric Ray Davidson

After: At Work

Jacket: The magic of this proportion: “Paired with a high-waisted skirt or slim pants, it totally lengthens your frame,” Benz says.

Chris Benz jacquard jacket, $1,995; Hampden clothing, 843-724-6373.


Blouse: The no-collar shirt is relaxed; the “wow” is in the beautiful hue. “For work, color is a modern way to have impact without any ruffles or bows,” Benz observes.

Talbots silk shirt, $99; Purse, her own.


Skirt: The pencil shape is universally flattering and always polished, says Benz. The fabric is a knit, “so it will conform to your body and move with you.”

Tory Burch mohair skirt, $295; J.Crew leather belt, $34; Isharya gold vermeil and agate-druzy ring, $180; isharya​.com. 


Shoes: A pointy-toe black pump is what Benz calls a wear-with-all. This one is stylish without being trendy (and the heels aren’t painfully high).

Calvin Klein suede pumps, $109; 

Eric Ray Davidson

Transform What You Own: At Work

Embrace Sparkle: A quick way to liven up your look: Mix in a touch of embellishment or evening-appropriate fabric. (But remember, only one shiny piece per outfit).


Mix patterns: It’s not only chic, but also easy: Stay within one color family and vary the scale. For instance, wear a large floral on the bottom and a small stripe on top.


Boost your beauty: Change your hair and makeup regularly. (Looking exactly the same every day is old-fashioned). Try a bold color on your lips, pull your hair off your face, try a fun nail polish.

Eric Ray Davidson

After: Night Out

Jacket: In tailoring we trust! The sides of Herbst’s jacket were taken in, the sleeves were shortened, two front pockets were removed, and voilà! A perfectly shrunken blazer.

Jacket, her own.


Top: “Don’t be afraid to belt a top in order to create a high waist,” says Benz. He calls the short topper over the longer underlayer very “now.”

Chris Benz cotton and silk blend shell with appliqué, $595; 877-551-7257. Club Monaco beaded clutch, $140; 212-459-9863. Watch, Chris’s own.


Jeans: Benz always opts for a dark rinse with stretch (so you can sit without making them lose their shape). For optimal slimming, he says, “they should hit at the ankles—with no bunching.”

J Brand cotton and elastane blend denim, $180; French Connection suede pumps, $255; Talbots satin purse, $79; Ann Taylor leather flats, $138;

Eric Ray Davidson

Transform What You Own: Night Out

Don’t gussy up: Benz declares skinny pants sexier than a frock. “Getting all dressed up to go out is old school.”


Go minimalist: Over-accessorizing is passé; wearing one bold piece is what’s in. For date night, Benz says, “I love the look of a chunky [men’s] watch, and that’s all.”


Carry a clutch: To Benz, there’s nothing worse than lugging a big bag on a big night. “It’s like you’re bringing your emotional baggage with you on the date!” His advice? Find a purse that’s soft, sparkly and just big enough for the essentials.


A little goes a long way—these stylish key pieces liven up your wardrobe on a dime.


Watch behind-the-scenes footage from our November 2011 photo shoot with Chris Benz.


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Eric Ray Davidson

First Published October 26, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


Susan 01.13.2012

The picture of Transform What You Own: At Work. Are you kidding? I'm sorry, but I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.

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