Stylish twins help dress Bergen fashionistas
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2012
BY ERINN CONNOR
They work quickly and almost completely in sync, flipping through a rack of clothes while gauging their client’s reaction. A jacket made entirely of sequins is out; a black one-shoulder dress is a must-try-on.
The stylists are dressed identically from head to toe, in taupe leather jackets, black shirts, jeans and knee-high black stiletto boots — you can tell them apart only if you look closely at their different jewelry. Twin sisters Mindy and Paula Shapiro, otherwise known as The Style Duo, come as a package, using their years of fashion knowledge to dress North Jersey fashionistas.
“We’ve always had a passion for fashion, ever since we were little girls dressing Barbie dolls all day,” says Mindy, of Woodcliff Lake. “As we got older, shopping and fashion for us was fun while some of our friends found it stressful, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.”
The Shapiros are at Helen Milic’s Lyndhurst home, with some date-night outfit suggestions for the holiday season. The two have known Milic for a while now, having helped style her baby bump while she appeared on an episode of the Bravo show “Pregnant in Heels” last year. Now that her baby is 9 months old, Milic wants help dressing her post-baby body.
“They’ll put everything together for you, from the outfit to the jewelry to the shoes, and that’s great,” Milic says. “That’s exactly what I need right now.”
The Shapiro sisters are shopping almost every day, sometimes with clients and sometimes just on their own to see what’s trending. They do a lot of shopping in Bergen County, at boutiques like GITO in Englewood as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus inParamus, where they were personal shoppers for two years until they launched The Style Duo in 2011 (online at thestyleduo.com).
Being twins is what helped get them through the door of the fashion world. After graduating from Tufts University, the two did a fair amount of acting and modeling in California in the 1990s. A lot of industry and celebrity connections were forged on the West Coast, which helped them transition away from acting into fashion. They moved back East after a few years, then were hired as personal shoppers at Neiman Marcus, where they worked in tandem.
“With both of us there, people felt like they were getting more for their money and we could get the job done faster,” says Paula, of New City, N.Y. “We felt like it was a gimmick at first, but it really worked.”
Their background in Hollywood stuck with them, and after a few years they left Neiman’s to form The Style Duo and do more television segments (for the “Today” show and PIX 11 Morning News, among others) in addition to working with their clients.
They know Milic’s taste well enough that they can bring over a rack of clothes and sort through them with her.
“So what would I do with this?” Milic asks, holding up a sheer sequined tank top. Paula and Mindy immediately jump in with suggestions, interrupting each other and giving rapid-fire advice.
“You could do like a jean or a legging or — ” Paula starts.
“A leather legging, leather is really hot right now,” Mindy adds, holding a pair up against the tank top.
“It would have to be something simple, because you don’t want too much with leather. Do you have a black blazer?” Paula asks.
“It’s funny you say that, I just bought one the other day,” Milic says, pointing toward her closet.
“And if it feels a little too open, you can just put a plain black tank top on underneath the sequined one,” Mindy says.
And in less than five minutes, an outfit is formed. But the sisters are all about options. They go through the rack again and pull out a jacket covered entirely in sequins.
“It’s a little too Michael Jackson-y for me,” Milic says with a laugh. The sisters don’t try and persuade her.
“If someone puts something on and they go ‘Eh,’ it’s over,” Mindy says. “You can’t convince someone of a look.”
Next Milic tries on the black, one-shoulder Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress she liked. Paula gives her a pair of Miu Miu booties with a glitter heel to pair with it, which Milic says are “really comfortable for being 17 inches tall.” Milic checks the results in her bedroom mirror, and likes how flattering the ruching on the dress is to her figure.
“You can’t go wrong with a black dress like this,” Milic says. “But what about something with color?”
The hangers squeal against the rack and the suggestions start flying again as the Shapiros work in sync to pull together another look.