Stylist Mary Gonsalves Kinney’s Dos And Dont’s Of Gala Dressing

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Mary Gonsalves Kinney
Mary Gonsalves Kinney

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Editor’s Note: With the fall season in full gear, we reached out to the most fashionable female in the Bay Area, stylist Mary Gonsalves Kinney, to get the 411 on what’s hot and what’s not. Here’s her manifesto for standing out and getting your name on that best-dressed list.

Kinney says, "Sabrina Buell's midi, high low approach to gala dressing is artistic."
Kinney says, “Sabrina Buell’s midi, high low approach to gala dressing is artistic.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do hire a stylist. Obviously. It’s a game changer for my clients. Your stylist should have a large pool of resources and can help you think of the direction you want to go in beforehand with images. The fitting should be seamless, and there should be a lot of amazing, hard to find options.

Don’t overlook the details. It’s essential to spend time detailing the look. The dress is vital, but so are the shoes, the bag, the shawl or jacket, the hair, and the makeup. For my guys, spend time on your socks, your cufflinks, your pocket square and make sure your tux or suit fits you perfectly.

Kinney says, "Kaitlyn Krieger's Dolce and Gabbana cat dress stole the show. Mike looked super chic in Dior."
Kinney says, “Kaitlyn Krieger’s Dolce and Gabbana cat dress stole the show. Mike looked super chic in Dior.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do seek out a meticulous tailor. There is nothing worse then straps or waistlines that don’t fall right or a messy tux pant.

Don’t wear a ball gown. It’s time to tame the skirt and step away from the belle of the ball gown. Occasionally a ball gown is fun and makes sense, but it isn’t a prerequisite. You can do black tie and look chic as ever in a column dress or a slinky backless number or even a fantastic tulle skirt and bustier. The rules of the old guard are slowly, but surely changing. Of course, be yourself above all else, but also know that you can step outside of the rigid, unspoken guidelines.

Kinney says, "Sako Fisher's Oscar de la Renta feather and beaded dress with Chanel gold and black rhinestone encrusted platform pumps was insane."
Kinney says, “Sako Fisher’s Oscar de la Renta feather and beaded dress with Chanel gold and black rhinestone encrusted platform pumps was insane.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do get your hair and makeup done by a professional makeup artist and hair stylist. I detail the hair and makeup inspiration for all of my clients before the event, so there is no room for error the day of the gala.

Don’t select the same dress as anyone else. Whatever you buy, be sure you’re the only one wearing that look. 

Kinney says, "Jamie Chan's red dress paired with a moto jacket is modern and next level fashion."
Kinney says, “Jamie Chan’s red dress paired with a moto jacket is modern and next level fashion.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do indulge in a manicure and pedicure. There is nothing worse than a chipped nail or an unkempt open toe situation.

Don’t coordinate too much with your date. A touch of “we belong together” is okay. A pocket square or a complementary color scheme, but please don’t ever match or perfectly coordinate. It’s not chic.

Kinney says, "I loved the detail of Carolyn Chang's look with the low V and the white feathers."
Kinney says, “I loved the detail of Carolyn Chang’s look with the low V and the white feathers.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do learn your good side for photos. Trust me, it matters.

Don’t be basic. Have fun with fashion. Try different designers and support local ones, too. Fashion is meant to be a statement of who you are and how you want to be perceived. Try and remember that at the end of the day, if you feel good, that is all that matters.

Kinney says, "Pia Cohler's Zimmerman dress was angelic, yet edgy and Matt looks polished and debonair."
Kinney says, “Pia Cohler’s Zimmerman dress was angelic, yet edgy and Matt looks polished and debonair.”

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Do consider the occasion. For example, if you’re going to the Met gala, follow the theme to the best of your ability, but maintain your sense of style and refrain from getting too costumey. Lest we forget: Anna Wintour comes up with the theme and wears Chanel every year. No one expects you to walk in like Rhianna. Follow the above dos and dont’s, but elevate by about 1000% because, well, it’s the Met Gala.

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