Brighten Up Your Wardrobe

Fashion maven and Birmingham native Mary Alice Stephenson shares her style tips.

Growing up in Birmingham, Mary Alice Stephenson became devoted to fashion at an early age.

“I just always wanted to look at fashion magazines from Mills Pharmacy and say, ‘How does that happen? Who creates that?’ and wanted to go out and take on fashion.” After graduating from Seaholm High School and then Boston University, Stephenson moved to New York and started her successful fashion career at — where else? — Vogue. She has since worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Allure magazines, provided red-carpet commentary for CNN, and is now working with Talbot’s to move the brand in a more fashion-forward direction. On a recent visit to her home state, Stephenson dished on trends to look for this season as she prepared to style the Grace Centers of Hope’s 12th annual Women Helping Women fashion show luncheon on May 1 in Rochester.

For more information about Grace Centers of Hope and the Women Helping Women fashion-show luncheon fundraiser, visit

Mary Alice Stephenson’s Tips For Spring/Summer

Work clothes needn’t be dull. Stephenson suggests dressing up outfits with accessories, especially bold jewelry and metallic pieces. “A lot of times, people think that they only want to wear jewelry at night or on glamorous occasions. No. You can never have enough.”

Even if you work in a more serious, corporate environment, it’s fine to spice up plain ensembles with accessories. “You can put a thin metallic belt around your jacket, or do a more subtle version of big statement jewelry.”

Don’t forget your feet. “It’s a huge moment for glamour on the foot.” Go for ankle boots and shoes with cutouts.

Color is key. “A la Michelle Obama, embrace color, even if it’s in a simple cardigan. Layering is a big thing, so try your brown pencil skirt with a hot-pink cardigan. Infuse browns, beiges, and blacks with a “pop” color somewhere.”

This season, it’s all about prints. “You might just splurge on a full, printed skirt and wear it with your jacket, with your cardigan. There are so many ways that you can take the classics and style around them.”

Even if a spring shopping spree isn’t in the budget this year, something as simple as a funky necklace or brightly colored pair of shoes will do the trick. “We all have simple, classic stuff in our wardrobe already, so play with belts, play with fun shoes, play with jewelry, and have fun dressing up all those neutral clothes you already have.”