Clothing articles are spilling out of your drawers, strewn across the floor. You stand in the middle of the chaos, wild-eyed, pulling your hair at the roots, thinking, “What on EARTH am I going to wear to this Derby party?!” It’s a scenario we are all too familiar with. We have so many clothes and STILL exclaim, “I have not a thing to wear!”
Andre Wilson is a name you want to remember. Founding Style Icon in 2009, Andre shops with his clients to put together outfits that make them look their absolute best. Andre was fascinating to talk with about defining fashion, style theory, and - of course – Derby.
Louisville.com: How do you define fashion?
Andre Wilson: I want to differentiate between “fashion" and “style.” “Fashion" is what’s trending, what’s in vogue. It’s expression. “Style" is how you do things. It is bigger than fashion; it isn’t necessarily superficial. Style can speak to your work ethic, your principles. You can have a style of writing. You can have a style of management. It’s the way you DO things.
L: What do you love about fashion?
AW: I love that fashion is constantly evolving. I love fabric, colors, and new technologies in fashion.
L: Are there any trends you particularly hate?
AW: Fashion is like music to me. “There is no such thing as a wrong note - only a wrong time to play it.” [quote by Miles Davis] I don’t believe there is such a thing as bad fashion...except for clogs and Crocs. I don’t think there is such a thing as bad clothing. It’s just on the wrong person. I will never judge what people wear. I just wonder why they have it on. There is usually a reason.
L: At what time in your life did you get involved with fashion?
AW: It was in my early years, maybe twelve years old. I distinctly remember wearing a suit in middle school.
L: Give me a brief overview of Style Icon. What does it mean?
AW: We have already defined style. “Icon" is a representation. When I style a client, I make every individual choose three words that they want to project as soon as they walk into a room. Words like ‘sophisticated,' ‘smart,' ‘knowledgeable.' I teach my clients how to dress for their body type, age, and career. I teach them how to make an impact, leave an impression, and get results in ten to thirty seconds.
L: How did Style Icon begin?
AW: It began in 2009 with my frustration in retail. There was white space in the fashion world here in Louisville. There are people in department stores who don’t know what they are looking for. I wanted to give them the best choice for them from a conglomerate of stores, not just a single store. I wanted to find clothes that work for their style and budget. I wanted to teach women how to dress to emphasize what is beautiful, instead of covering up what is wrong with their body.
L: How has Style Icon grown? What do you hope to see for your business’s future?
AW: I am exploring styling through technology. I really want to bring more stylists on board. We [Style Icon] want to be the leader in styling all over the country. Style Icons turning other people into Style Icons.
L: What should a client expect when they first book a consultation with you?
AW: I use a system with my business. I take a range of clients from entry-level positions to CEOs and celebrities. We sit down for an hour over a cup of coffee. I will not style anyone until we have done this. I have to know what I am getting into.
L: Where do you frequently shop when styling clients? Favorite places to go? Favorite brands to use?
AW: Dillard’s is one of the best kept secrets in Louisville. I love Sunny Daize, Boutique Serendipity, Rodes, Blink, Rodeo Drive, and Von Maur. Brands for men… Canali, Zegna, Hugo Boss. Brands for the businesswoman… Tahari and Armani Women. For galas, I love Chanel. If any woman is having trouble finding jeans, Joe’s Jeans and Paige Denim are great. I love BCBG and Trina Turk. It really depends on what I’m shopping for.
L: What notable people have you styled?
AW: Valerie Bertinelli and Kate Gosselin.
L: So we are in the midst of Derby season. What kind of trends are you noting here locally for Derby fashion?
AW: I am seeing more neon colors. I am starting to see the hat return. We were geared more toward fascinators in the past. I see more people customizing their hats, not trying to find THE perfect hat. I also think guys are starting to step it up. Wooden bow ties should start trending. In fact, Lauren Conrad Instagrammed mine last year from Two Guys Bowties.
L: What would you consider the ultimate Derby fashion do? Derby fashion don’t?
AW: Take more chances with color and creativity. You can wear neutrals any other time of the year. For Derby, you have to wear color. Step outside your comfort zone and have fun with it. Wear your fashion and don't let it wear you. Shop early. Get a stylist. Accessorize with taste.
As for don’ts, ill-fitted clothing is unacceptable. Buy the size that FITS. It’s okay to get tailoring done. Do not repeat what you wore last year. I've seen people not take enough chances. But I've also seen people overdo it way too much.
L: So what is your favorite Derby festivity?
AW: Jocktails and Unbridaled Eve.
L: What advice do you have for people who are frantic and utterly clueless about what to wear to Derby parties?
AW: Call your stylist immediately. Seek help. Google pictures from last year. Ask what people wore to the event last year. Call up a local boutique, and tell them where you are going and what you are doing.
Contact information for Andre Wilson can be found below.
Email: email@example.com 
Photo: Mikayla Lott