David Zyla on Personal Style, Ditching Fashion Trends, and How to Win at Shopping

At 5 years old, David Zyla told his mother, who was getting dressed for a night out with his father, to wear a different necklace than the one she had on. He then told his dad to switch ties.

"You can mix patterns?" his dad asked.

"Of course," Zyla said.

That was the first time Zyla remembers styling someone else. Years later, his client base stretches far beyond his parents. Zyla's made a name for himself as an Emmy award-winning stylist for movies, television, and people like Hillary Clinton, Neil Patrick Harris, and Susan Lucci.

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"I always had an idea that people look good in different things," Zyla says. "We didn't all look great in the same thing, and if we did, we wouldn't have this thing called fashion... We would have a central bank in the middle of town with our uniform in it that looked phenomenal on us."

On Thursday, March 5, Zyla will share his tips on style, shopping, and more at Frances as he presents his new book, How to Win at Shopping, co-written with Eila Mell.

At first, we weren't sure that Zyla's book of 297 inside secrets for getting the style you want at the price you want to pay would reveal much to diehard shoppers. We knew of Zyla's fame and expertise in the field, but what new, ground-breaking information could a small, golden book about shopping offer?

But after one short phone conversation with this style icon, we were checking our calendar and clearing our schedules for Thursday, positive that we had to hear him talk in person.

Zyla knows style. He knows how to speak about style. He knows how to translate the theory of style into advice that individuals can take directly to their closets.

He knows that women should have at least one handbag that matches the darkest color in their hair and men should have a belt that matches the ring of their iris.

In part, this knowledge came from a professor at New York University, where Zyla studied costume design, who wasn't satisfied with Zyla's answer, "Well, it's just right," when he asked why certain items looked good together.

"After I graduated, I started really studying color, and I discovered there could be vocabulary around all of it," Zyla says. "It's not just 'Oh, that's an ugly dress, that's a pretty dress.' It's all in context."

Inspired by art like a Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art or the silhouettes and lines in 1930s movies, Zyla studied and practiced style and the reasoning and architecture behind it. He couldn't help but learn when he worked for 12 years as a daytime television stylist, putting together somewhere around 2,100 looks a year.

He's taken all those years of practice picking outfits, combined them with Mell's experience as fashion writer, and filled a book.

"As an author, I want to put more than enough information into the book because I want the book to be as good of a resource as if I was shopping with you," Zyla says.

Yes, this book would be great for someone who has already found their style, but Zyla hopes to intrigue and help those who hate shopping as well. He encourages people to look at their current closet for clues when they are shopping later and repeat past triumphs.

For Zyla, style and fashion are not necessarily about trends.

"Stick to what feels right," Zyla says. "Every time you open your closet, you to smile from ear to ear. . . Unless someone is paying you, you shouldn't wear anything that doesn't make you feel your very best."

Come explore your personal style with David Zyla during Changing Hands' event and book signing at Frances, 10 West Camelback Road, on Thursday, March 5. Doors and will call open at 5 p.m. and the main event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are free with the purchase of How to Win at Shopping, $12.95. For more information and to purchase the book, visit

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