SAY “PITTSBURGH,” and what’s the first (or third) thing that comes to mind? Football, hockey, driverless cars, maybe bus in a sinkhole? Fashion—not so much. But as my grandmother would have said: “You look, you find.”
So I did. One of my finds turned out to be a store named Little Black Dress and its owner, Diana Misetic. Trained in couture techniques, Misetic can create one-of-a-kind pieces for customers. But the majority of her business comes from “off-the-rack” dresses. In Misetic’s case, off the rack means a little black—or red—knee-length, on-the-bias sleeveless silk or crepe dress she has designed with say, a jewel neckline and flowy bow tie. Those dresses start at $250, but here’s the thing, a client can add sleeves, ask for a different color, material, length or neckline. These changes can up the price several hundred dollars.
In the process of buying a frock for a black-tie event, I came to the store several times and on each occasion was impressed with Misetic’s fashion sense. Curious to know more, I asked her to talk to me about her personal style. Here’s what we chatted about:
MLB: What were your big influences growing up?
DM: I developed my taste in Europe—in the old Yugoslavia. Europeans dress up to go out—to lunch or the grocery store. In school, I had two teachers whose wardrobe I admired. I would study what they wore every day. In sixth or seventh grade, I made my mother copy the shirt of my language teacher.
MLB: You told me, “I love clothes; I make them look good.” How do you do that?
DM: Clothing is my expression. I don’t spend money on cars, just clothes. Lucky me, I’m a designer and I can make clothes for my personality. The same goes for my clients. Each one has a story. And that story goes with their personality. You make clothing look good because it fits you inside and out. It must feel comfortable and flow like a second skin.
MLB: How do you style yourself?
DM: Styling starts in the morning. You have to imagine what your day is going to look like—are you heading to a gallery opening, a dinner, a concert? For me, the basic things are balance and proportion. If you have a short skirt, wear high boots; a long skirt, shorter boots. Emphasize your best feature but don’t obsess.
MLB: What about color?
DM: Start with two colors. Black and white is safe and then add whatever you want—a scarf, a belt, jewelry. I’m not a fan of print dresses that swallow the body and look like the dress is walking by itself. You can mix and match but you have to know what you’re doing. Style and color depends on where you are. If I go to NYC, I wear clothes that go with the city. If I go to Florida, I stick with the colors of the sea and plants. In Maldives, it’s white. In New Mexico—earthy colors. You don’t wear a New York outfit in Miami.
MLB: What are our biggest clothing mistakes?
DM: People buy too many cheap things. Buy one good thing and complement it with a less expensive item. The dress can be from H&M, but wear high-quality shoes. Zara has good fabric, but the color has to be right for you. Really cheap clothing has bad colors. Dressing head to toe in the clothing of one designer is another no-no, as is wearing a big dress if you’re overweight.
MLB: Tell me about what you’re wearing now and how you decided on it.
DM: I’m going to hear jazz music at a hotel downtown. It’s an event to celebrate the anniversary of the inventor of the saxophone. I wanted to look a little bohemian, so I wore this loose, flowy blouse with my tailored jacket and jeans.
MLB: Last words of wisdom?
DM: It’s very important to have clothes that you love; it’s motivation.