Tao Okamoto

Tao Okamoto
In the wonderful world of modeling, some girls resemble each other so much that they seem almost interchangeable (it's occasionally a struggle to identify who's who in random street-style photographs!). But though there are many cookie-cutter catwalkers prowling the streets of Milan and Manhattan, occasionally we spy someone with the kind of singularly striking style that influences others far and wide. One such young lovely with that sort of sartorial impact is the bowl-cut beauty, Tao Okamoto. With her darling cap of hair (which is so beloved by designer Phillip Lim that he made all the models in his F/W 09 show wear look-a-like wigs) and propensity for bold red accessories (namely, lipstick and boots), Okamoto is completely au courant and a worthy subject to spotlight in today's Model Off Duty!

Though there are many things to adore about this Japanese beauty's personal wardrobe, we must confess our affinity for the way she wears sweaters of all shapes and sizes. For example, at the D&G F/W 09 show (above, far left), she layered a buttoned-up oversized Richard Chai cardi under a cropped leather jacket, also by Richard Chai, for a daring and darling outfit. While we'd probably attempt this look with the addition of a dark pair of super-skinny pants, like Current/Elliott's The Legging Jeans ($198), the proportions would remain the same. Just throw on a fingertip-length sweater, like ASOS' Fluffy Boyfriend Cardigan ($55), with a cropped jacket, such as Topshop's Funnel Neck Bomber Jacket ($100) or June's Leather Moto Jacket ($298). (If you crave an extra layer, we suggest adding Topshop's Knitted Chunky Shawl Cardigan ($90) in Silver, for that additional hoodie-like touch.)

In addition to letting sweaters serve as the focus of her outfit, Okamoto also mixes them with dressier fare. Spotted backstage at Zac Posen during the S/S 10 shows, Okamoto used a combination of two signature accessories-a gray Jason Wu cardi and her beloved red boots by Japanese designer A.D.-to tone down a fancier Marc Jacobs dress. It's a smart way to get more wear out of your favorite party dresses and can be easily achieved at home; just add a gossamer sweater and sturdy boots to your favorite neutral and/or metallic frocks! Try something like Topshop's Scallop Sequin Dress ($250) with Madewell's Super Slouchy Cardigan ($98) in Heather Cloud or whatever combo of sweater and shimmery frock you like. Of course, you need shoes, and though it's hard to find a perfect replica of Okamoto's fire-engine red footwear, Pour la Victoire's Over-The-Knee Wedge Boots ($395) in wine will give you a great approximation of the model's signature pair.

If these sweater-style notes don't suit you, you could always try another one of Okamoto's tips and simply turn an oversized v-neck iteration into a dress! The model memorably did just that when she turned up at the Lagerfeld S/S 10 show wearing a loose Dries Van Noten V-Neck Sweater ($486) with a side-slung Chanel bag, pastel yellow fishnets, and Rupert Sanderson for Karl Lagerfeld strappy black heels. The easy silhouette of her green semi-sheer sweater can be achieved with Whistles Exposed Seam Oversized V-Neck ($127). Just don't forget to add some high-contrast pop via hosiery; we like Jonathan Aston's Fishnet Tights ($10) in Daffodil Yellow. As for the shoes, you have three options: you can wait until the patent Sanderson for KL heels are available this spring, pick up the very similar Rupert Sanderson Asteroid Heels ($1300) now, or check out the Velvet Angels Barbuto Triple Strap Sandal ($295) instead. (We pick option three.) You also might like Pied a Terre's Jersey High Sandal ($204), which has a similar cut-out vibe and delicate heel.

Our final look may not involve a sweater in any incarnation, but it does feature Okamoto's favorite boldly colored accessories! Photographed backstage at Moschino's F/W 09 show, our MOD wore two pieces from A.D.: her cowl-neck dress and beloved red boots. As for her bright tights, their province is unknown, but we think Hue's Super Opaque Tightsicon ($12.50) in Dijon or Topshop's 50 Den Tights ($8) in Mustard are decidedly non-mellow yellow options. Just pair them with contrasting boots and an embellished hem dress. Though it's not black, we like the detailing on Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent's Sequin Hem Dress ($288); the gray tank frock has a gorgeous studded and beaded hem. Or you could build your own dress with a black cowl neck shirt and a festive skirt, like Alice + Olivia's Feather Skirt($297). Whatever you pick, the options are endless and the results are bound to be just as stylish as Okamoto!

All photos, from firstVIEW.

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