Q + A with Nick Verreos

Recently, Indianapolis played host to an exciting fashion event featuring a very popular designer and television personality. Nick Verreos hosted the Five Spring Essentials Fashion Show at Macy’s in the Castleton Square Mall. Verreos received national and international attention after appearing on Project Runway. He has since enjoyed success as a red carpet fashion expert on TV Guide’s LIVE Academy Awards Red Carpet, TV Guide’s Red Carpet Fashion Wrap (including the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys and Grammys), E! Countdown to the Academy Awards and SoapNet’s Emmy Awards Red Carpet Coverage. Pattern contributor Mark Dubec caught up with the captivating host to find out what style and fashion mean to him.

Where does your passion for fashion come from?

It started very early on. I grew up in Venezuela, South America and my dad was a diplomat working for the U.S. embassy. My parents would attend embassy parties, and I was a 4 year old boy watching them get ready, just completely fascinated. I would draw them! I loved to sketch my mom; she was my first muse. That is where the passion came from. It was very natural for me to draw women and fashion. I mean, I was drawing airplanes and cars too, but there was something very passionate about my need and ability to draw women and clothing, so that’s where it started for me.

How did you take that and turn it into a career?

The whole time growing up I did not see it as a career, but more of a hobby. It was kind of my “peace out” time. I would go into my bedroom after school and just draw all the time. In high school, when you think about what you want to do, I knew drawing was the only real talent I had. I didn’t even think about fashion. I thought, well I can draw…so maybe I can get a job doing that. The counselor at school said there were no jobs in fashion illustration at the time, which is completely different now that fashion illustration is a big deal; lots of magazines and newspapers ask for it now, and you see it all around. Designers will ask, for example, “What is your vision of Michelle Obama, and what is she going to wear for the ball?,” and its a sketch. So now, it’s very important. At first, I studied political science to follow in my father’s footsteps and be a diplomat, but fashion won out. It never went away. So if there is any advice to be had about my experience, it’s do what you love! Don’t think that your passion will just go away; it won’t. So, don’t fight it; go for it. I would be taking a serious PolySci test and find myself drawing gowns! It took me 7-8 years to come out of the closet with the fact I wanted to be a fashion designer! But like my dad told me, learning is never a waste of time, so I don’t regret anything.

What is one item every woman should have in their closet?

They should have a dress, THE dress. It should fit right and be your go-to ego boost. If you are tired and overworked, you put that dress on and feel like a million bucks! You must have a great pair of heels, too, so you can make your legs look long.

How about some style advice for men?

A good fitted jacket is essential and can do wonders if it’s tailored right.

I worked for years as a wardrobe stylist and guys would always think they needed a bigger jacket size than they actually do. The old rules no longer apply – you know, testing the fit by pulling your arms forward. I advise you to get a fitted jacket. You are not doing construction work in a jacket, so don’t worry about moving your arms around too much.

Find a good pair of jeans and lose the oversized shirts! The shoulder seams are often too loose and men think they should fit like a T-shirt. Pleated pants…get rid of them. They make you look wider and bigger; always go for the flat front. There was a study that said you are judged by others in the first 13 seconds. I take pride in my presentation and image, and so should you. I’m drawn to people who take the time to think about what they look like.

Advice for people who want to break into the industry and be successful?

My advice is follow your passion, follow your gut instinct.

Keep drawing. Look for books that will help you draw better. Get a sewing machine and start learning about clothing construction. This is where it changed for me, when I started making things for myself. I would buy stuff at Jo-Ann fabric and make my own pants. People would ask, “Wow! Where did you get those?” I made them! I get shivers just thinking about it now. It turned the light on for me. Just know you can make your own fashion career wherever you are in the country.

This is your first time in Indianapolis. What are your thoughts on our style?

I love that I saw a lot of color and embracing spring with brights. I think regionally you should stop being so down on yourself. Stop saying, “oh we are so Midwest.” I think that is what makes the United States so unique. Today, with the information that is passed around so quickly on the web, anyone in Indy can see what is happening in New York, LA or Paris. I like what I have seen so far in Indy.

What are your Five Spring Essentials this year?

I’m focusing on the buzzwords:

1. Lace – Wearing something that has a little lace and some detail on a dress or top will bring you softly into the season.

2. Peplum – Detail on a dress or jacket that cinches the waist and flairs out.

3. Printed pant – They should have texture and treatments

4. Color – Lots of brights! Experiment with neon, bright pink or yellow to create a big pop in your wardrobe.

5. Sheath, shift or shirt dress

If you are looking to follow someone in the fashion industry that works hard and is completely committed to his vision, he is the real deal. Indianapolis showed Nick our passion for fashion with a huge turnout at the event. For more about Nick Verreos, follow his blog.

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