The long and shorts of summer style

Susan Sherman poses in a Chloe print sheath dress with open back and Christian Louboutin sandals.

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

There are certain women who always seem to look terrific, even when they’re schlepping about in what seems to have become the standard St. Louis schlepping uniform, Lululemon workouts. Susan Sherman is one of these women. We’d hate her if she weren’t as friendly and unpretentious as she is. (And for the record, when she schleps, it’s usually in capris or designer jeans and a cute T.)

Petite and perfectly coiffed — she favors a super sassy, short haircut — Sherman is the embodiment of what it means to be a fashionista. In other words, she’s the one everyone else is checking out — at a cocktail party or benefit, at temple on the High Holidays — to see what she has on. Sherman is also one of the founders of the Fashion Lab based at Craft Alliance, which explores the art and craft of fashion by hosting several fashion-related events each year.

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Recently, Sherman made time to discuss fashion, shopping and style with the Jewish Light.

Where is your favorite place to shop in St. Louis?

Neiman, Saks and lately Byrd (in downtown Clayton), since they now have vintage couture. I also love Anjali Kamra’s line, Rungolee, and shopping for glasses at the new SEE eyewear store.

What is your go-to outfit when you are undecided about what to wear?  

Lately it’s either a navy Marni sheath or a Brunello Cucinelli cotton, one-shoulder dress with a leather strap. Both are perfect for steamy St. Louis summers.

Your favorite color?  

Black, if that’s a color.

Your favorite fashion accessory?

I love this pair of 18th century, antique earrings that I got at Keil’s Antiques in New Orleans. Everything I have from there makes me wonder why I ever buy any new jewelry.

What fashion icon do you most admire?

 Jackie O. When we were living in Paris, I absolutely loved Ines de la Fressange, a French model and designer. Both of their styles are classic, simple and elegant.

What three words describe your style?

A mix of boho and classic. Although for black tie, I like a little drama. If I have a meeting, it might be an Oscar de la Renta suit. I love to “channel” hippie sometimes and classic other times. I guess the third word is unfocused.

What celebrity would you love to make over? Any housewife on Bravo’s “Real Housewives” series.

What is the most surprising item I would find in your closet right now? A Fendi baguette that I bought at the Liz Taylor auction at a Christie’s last year. It’s purple and pink with a yellow lizard strap and bright green bugle beads. Very Liz!

What do people not know about you in terms of the way you shop for fashion?

For me it’s the thrill of the hunt. I grew up as a Loehmann’s shopper, and continue that bargain hunting mentality here in St. Louis. Two of my favorite summer dresses are from Rung (the resale shop in Brentwood).  I love resale, I love flea markets, I love vintage. I’ll shop anywhere to unearth a great find.

Is there anything you won’t wear?

I won’t wear shorts above my knee.

Finish this sentence — when it comes to fashion, St. Louis is…

much more sophisticated than they sometimes think. We give ourselves a bad rap. But the people here shop all over the world, have great taste and wear clothes well.

What stores and boutiques would you like to see in St. Louis that we don’t have?

Barney’s, and more high-end boutiques such as Richard’s in Greenwich, Conn.; Capitol in Charlotte, N.C., and Mariss in Naples, Fla. I would love to be able to buy a Rick Owens leather jacket or anything Marni in my own backyard, instead of online or through travels.

What was the worst fashion purchase you ever made?

After I just told you I will not wear shorts above the knee, I recently bought a pair of green lace shorts above the knee at Barney’s in New York. I put them on when I got back home and screamed, “noooooo!”

Do you have a favorite fashion-related TV show?

I like “Project Runway,” and I love NBC’s new “Fashion Star” format because it’s one thing to be really creative and call yourself a designer, but if no one buys your line, you’ve got a bit of a problem.

What is your fashion fantasy?

To be fitted in a red Valentino gown by Valentino himself. It would not make good financial sense, but it would be a dream come true.

Anything else?

I have seen a really distinct curiosity about fashion in St. Louis that I’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s the “McQueen effect” (referring to designer Alexander McQueen’s recent sellout show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). People see fashion as a work of art, they want to know how pieces are fabricated, and hear the inspiration behind certain lines. I’m putting in a plug here but Craft Alliance’s Fashion Lab is a great organization to learn more about the world of fashion.