Fashion compassion

Fashion expert and New Brunswick native Lloyd Boston can still recall the most terrifying day of his tv career: "i made over a local New Jersey woman on The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet," says the style guru.

Fashion expert and New Brunswick native Lloyd Boston can still recall the most terrifying day of his TV career: "I made over a local New Jersey woman on The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet," says the style guru. "We dressed her up from head to toe and she looked amazing, but I didn’t know she wasn’t comfortable walking in high heels." The result: "She completely wiped out on the floor, in her metallic silver raincoat," says Boston. "In all my years working with makeovers and models I’d never had someone so much as trip! Luckily she was OK and the crowd applauded her, but my heart went through the basement."

Still, despite the rare mishap, Boston is the first to admit that fortune has favored him. "I think God has his hand on me," he says. "I’m so lucky to be doing what I love for a living."

Since he showed a flair for design as a college kid right here in Middlesex County, he’s become renowned for a "less is modern" fashion philosophy that’s been heartily embraced by celebs and "real" people alike. On the Fine Living Network television show Closet Cases, which he’s hosted since last April, he helps fashion-challenged men and women weed out their closets and assemble smashing combos with the remaining items.

"I love connecting with people and showing them how easy style can be," he says.

Raised by a devoted single mom, Boston went to Atlanta’s Morehouse College and then Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he earned a degree in fine arts. To help pay the bills he got a job in a Benetton branch in New Brunswick. There, he explains, owner Brian Eisner decided to "create his own brand and turned the store into Finale. He let me use my fine-arts skills to design packaging for the store and also do my first line of T-shirts for it-they’re still there." For Boston, Finale was the start.

He then scored an internship with famed designer Tommy Hilfiger, and for the next 10 years remained by this mentor’s side, eventually advancing to become his company’s vice president of art direction. During this time, Boston wrote a book called Men of Color-"my personal labor of love, about how African-American men have put an indelible stamp on the style world."

The book got noticed. "It led me to the TV world to promote it, and the TV world put its arms around me and asked me to keep talking about style," says Boston. Shows like The View, Today and Extra began turning to him for tips on what was in vogue. Soon he was helping to cover the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes, and he eventually landed on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa as a featured guest-"a dream come true."

Meanwhile, he’s written three more books. Make Over Your Man and Before You Put That On have been big sellers, and an as-yet-untitled work that Boston calls "my ultimate style guide for women" will hit stores this fall.

In 2007, Boston was named the first exclusive "style guru" spokesperson for designer brand Jones New York. In that role he now jets around the country on a quest to bring fashion enlightenment to the masses. "I love women with curves, limited budgets, busy families and jobs," he says. "I know I’m making a difference when I can get these women to start looking and feeling like red carpet celebs."

Boston insists that looking sensational requires neither brilliance nor a bulging bank account, but a savvy selection process. "Your closet should be a smartly curated capsule of your greatest style hits," he says. "If you know what fits your body best and what colors most complement your face, you can make better fashion choices, save money when shopping and create a lean, efficient wardrobe that will register to others as chic and modern."

He admits to occasional frustration with clients he advises one-on-one. "They have my books and watched my shows, and they say, ‘Lloyd, please help me!’ Then the next sentence is usually telling me what they won’t wear. It’s almost like they’re putting their hands up in surgery and telling the doctor, ‘No! Move the scalpel to the left!’"

Still, Boston is relentlessly positive in his approach; he has no use for the instruction-by-way-of- humiliation favored on much of today’s reality TV. "I think there’s value in teaching women rather than critiquing them," he says. "If I critiqued women on top of all the other criticisms and pressures they get every day from TV and magazines, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night."

As it is, he sleeps soundly, if sparingly. "I’m either going at top speed or I’m lying on the sofa with ice packs on my eyes; there’s no middle ground," says Boston, who’s "happily partnered" (all he’ll report from the domestic front) with a bicoastal New York-L.A. lifestyle. But he always makes time for visits home.

"I’m proud that I was born and raised in New Brunswick," he says. "I still have loads of family in New Jersey, and we’re famous for our big barbecues and blowout holiday celebrations." When not grilling in the yard, Boston likes to hit the local malls. "I could spend eight hours at Menlo Park and Bridgewater Commons," he confesses. And he often dines at SoHo on George in New Brunswick-"a great spot for lunch, brunch or dinner"-or Old Man Rafferty’s.

"I also love all the small, unknown Lebanese restaurants," he says. "There’s great cultural history in Middlesex County, and Lebanese food is one of my favorites."

Nor does this rising TV star fail to check in with his very first mentor. "My mom, who still lives in New Brunswick, is my No. 1 source of inspiration," says Boston. "I’m an only child and she raised me single-handedly, so we have a very close relationship. And she has a style about her that goes beyond clothing."

Lloyd Boston’s Top Trends For Spring

"The slouchy boyfriend blazer is carrying over from fall. Pair it with fitted pants-you don’t want to look like you’re in a sack from head to toe-or a lean pencil skirt and your favorite sexy shoe, whether it be a stiletto or a peep- toe pump." "Oversized pants and chinos are also making their way off the runway. These are fun because they’re roomy and forgiving. Match them with a basic tank top for a fabulous, retro Annie Hall look."

"Soft denim is one of my favorite materials for spring. Invest in a cool jumpsuit, amazing dress or comfy pair of shorts made from this material, and you can’t go wrong."

Final Thought: "Fit is more important than fashion. Whether you buy clothes that fit properly or you’re smart enough to see a tailor, the right fit can make classic clothes serve you for decades and give your wardrobe an instant boost."

Categories: Central Jersey Health & Life