Olivia Palermo is a modern style icon who has become a mainstay feature on any best-dressed list—and somehow manages to look polished for any outing, be it a red carpet event or simply popping to the shops. At Who What Wear, we regularly document the brands she loves (it’s not always Zara), the new places she’s shopping and her latest outfit ideas.
Scroll through older photos of Palermo (we’re talking circa The City years), and even then it was clear she was a fashion star in the making. While she’s definitely owned her look, we recently realised the star has undergone a bit of a wardrobe metamorphosis of late.
She’s always been a fan of blown-up florals, geo prints, relaxed suiting and bright hues, but it seems that Olivia Palermo’s style has taken an edgy turn, particularly towards the end of 2018.
Now, we see her sporting more black ensembles than ever before, though she’s also developed a serious obsession with acid neon, too—because, of course, she was dressing for 2019 before it even begun.
A master at creating high-low outfit formulas, 2018 also saw Olivia spin a purple tracksuit top with heritage checks—a look that’s worlds apart from the ethereal frocks that were once her sartorial signature.
There’s just so much to learn from Olivia so, without further ado, we’ve dedicated an entire gallery of Palermo’s most noteworthy looks and how we can implement them into our own wares. Keep scrolling to discover the very best of Olivia Palermo’s style.
1. White Shirts Don’t Have to be Boring
Style Notes: On paper, a white shirt with trousers and a jacket is a bit of a snooze-fest. However, opt for interesting details on your shirt (such as oversized cuffs or a unique collar), add a studded belt and pink lipstick, and you have yourself a winner.
Style Notes: A scarf or belt on its own can be nothing special, but when the two pieces are combined in alternative ways, they become the centrepiece of the outfit.
Style Notes: Not sure how to wear that brightly coloured dress, jacket or top? Make a statement by toning down everything else in your outfit (aka pair your look with neutral accessories).
Style Notes: This sportif blue-and-white ensemble is very safe by Palermo’s standard, but the lace-up heels make all the difference.
Style Notes: Denim shirts will always work for when you’re just unsure of what to wear. Steal another styling tip from Palermo by tying yours in a knot instead of tucking it in.
Style Notes: You’ve got your casual-smart vibe nailed, but what about black-tie or special one-off events? Watch how OP does it with flair, opting for a statement Valentino dress and going with ethereal hair and makeup to match.
Style Notes: To make this work, OP sticks to a palette of blue and brown. If she had stepped outside of the tonal realm, it would have been confusing on the eyes. Bravo again!
Style Notes: Although this outfit is predominantly black and white, we come away thinking it’s mostly red. Why? Because the colour matching of the jacket and shoes makes the red pop. PS: That now sold-out bomber is from Topshop.
9. Tailoring Is Everything
Style Notes: Take away Palermo’s coat and you’d have yourself a great casual outfit. With it, you have a more sophisticated ensemble that works for the office and for a night out.
Style Notes: We’ve told you before about this Zara suit, which we’re still obsessed with. But why does it work so well? Not adding any overly fussy accessories makes the whole outfit look expensive.
Style Notes: Your eye automatically draws to the bottom of Olivia’s look here—with marabou-trimmed trousers and satin shoes, there’s a party below and a toned-down look up top. A very clever balance.
Style Notes: Don’t assume that sneakers instantly add scruffiness. Instead, make like Olivia and use them to relax a suit.
Style Notes: While athleisure isn’t for everyone, you can still tap into the trend by adjusting it to suit your own style. OP does this by taking a pair of sporty trousers and adding her standard amount of polish: a white shirt, high heels and the all-important sunnies.
Style Notes: Hanging on to that threadbare chunky knit? Invest in jumpers or cardigans that keep you warm and can serve as the focal point of your outfit.
Style Notes: We already knew that OP was loving these autumnal colours, but combined, they look better than we could have ever expected. There’s something about the strict three-point colour wheel she’s using that keeps everything in check.
16: Find Interesting Ways to Style Key Pieces
Style Notes: Take a cue from Palermo and find new and interesting ways to dress your basics, such as tying your jumper horizontally across your body. (Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.)
17. Don’t Be Afraid to Go All-Out
Style Notes: Bold prints and dramatic feather trims? Some would say it’s too much, but Palermo proves it’s really not.
18. When in Doubt, Go Monochromatic
Style Notes: Monochromatic looks are always a sleek way to do separates, and black-and-white prints are an easy route into the co-ords trend.
19. Weekends Are for Style Experiments
Style Notes: A teal suit with an orange polo, purple bag and clashing yellow stole? The whole look works, and this is exactly the kind of style experiment the weekends were made for.
20. There’s More to Formalwear Than Just Dresses
Style Notes: Wedding coming up? Fancy party to go to? Take a tip from Olivia and look outside the dress section. A smartly tailored suit in a plush texture can be equally as glamorous.
21. Forgo Wearing a Top Underneath Sharp Suiting
Style Notes: Olivia manages to change the entire vibe of her printed suit by wearing it buttoned up, sans top. This entire look is a testament to the fact that the smallest tweaks can make the biggest impact.
22. Dress Down Fancy Minis With Clunky Shoes
Style Notes: One of Olivia’s favourite styling tricks is pairing offbeat shoes with pretty party dresses, such as this beaded and feathered Giambattista Valli mini.
23. If You Like it, Wear it
Style Notes: If you want to make an bold statement, do it. Life’s too short to care about what other people thing of your outfit is unimportant—if you like it, wear it. Case in point: OP in Kenzo.
25. Don’t Bypass Trends Before You Try Them
Style Notes: Sportswear isn’t the look we’d usually attribute OP to but, worn her way with heritage checks, she makes her purple Tibi track top look as if it were made for her personally, even if that isn’t out of the realms of possibility.
26. Statement Cover-Ups Are Key
Style Notes: This is a classic OP move that she’s been trailblazing for years. Simply put, a statement coat—in this case, her Carolina Herrera cape—does all the work for you.
27. Stripes Go Way Beyond Breton Tops
Style Notes: Aside from floral and geometric motifs, stripes are the other print Olivia wears on repeat. If this Smythe suit is anything to by, her motto must be the more statement, the better.
28. Don’t Reserve Sequins For Party Season
Style Notes: Olivia never saves her party wares for December. With a bomber jacket, plain white tee and ankle-strap Jimmy Choo heels, she makes this Salle Le Pointe sequin skirt (which she wore in September, by the way) work year-round.
29. White Shoes Can Look Chic. Yes, Really
Style Notes: The marmite of footwear trends, white shoes are deemed too out-there to wear by many. However, Olivia’s pastel ensemble proves they have a time and a place, as black would have been too hard against her candy-hued Max & Co suit.
30. Channel Your Style Icons
Style Notes: Much like what we’re doing here, it seems Olivia took a leaf out of another icon’s book with this Clueless-esque Sara Battaglia two-piece.
31. Flip Back to Ultra-Femme If You Please
Style Notes: This Ermanno Scervino gown is a stark contrast to the edgier outfits Olivia recently sported, but that’s what we love most about it—it’s unexpectedness. Proof that you can flip between romantic and rad whenever the mood takes.
32. Wear One Hue Top-to-Toe
Style Notes: It may be one of the oldest styling tricks in the book, but it’s also one of the best. Wearing an outfit entirely in one hue is the quickest (not to mention easiest) way to create a pulled-together look.
33. Sometimes the Simplest Outfits Are the Most Effective
Style Notes: How does Olivia make her striped jumper and leather legging combination look so fresh? By opting for a hint of neon (courtesy of Balmain) and a patent finish.
34. Get Creative With Layering
Style Notes: A dress over trousers? Olivia practically invented that look—and she still wears it to this day. The key is in the length—her Valentino tunic balances out the straight leg of the matching strides perfectly. Anything longer and it just wouldn’t have worked.
35. Being Extra Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Look Polished
Style Notes: On paper, Olivia’s Miu Miu coat and skirt shouldn’t work, so why does it? Look at the colour palette and you’ll see that there are two predominant colours—lime and pink. The others? They’re all neutrals like white, beige and black. By limiting the ensemble to two standout hues, then pulling it together with basic shades, OP’s outfit is directional without looking as if she got dressed in the dark
36. All-Black Outfits Can Be Interesting
Style Notes: Often associated with hairdresser uniform, all-black outfits can look incredibly chic when they feature different fabrics. Thanks to the contrasting textures of satin, crêpe and sheepskin, Olivia’s Ralph Lauren is what you should aspire to.
37. Black Tights Needn’t Be Basic
Style Notes: Black tights aren’t considered the most fashionable hosiery option, but they are the most practical. Bring them up to update with a bright checked skirt and hiker boot combo, akin to Olivia’s Versace numbers.
38. Throw a Colour Curveball
Style Notes: Cooler tones serve as Olivia’s go-to, so when she stepped out in the red Victoria Beckham suit at 2018’s Fashion Awards, it was a breath of fresh air.