Tribal Vibes

One of the key trends of the season is a return to bold, primitive patterns and tribal-inspired styles. I wrote about this trend in my Jewelry Fashion File blog on in a post entitled “Primitive Motifs in Fashion in Jewelry” on February 23: “As perennially popular as animal prints, lavish amounts of chunky jewelry are a key element of this season’s tribal-influenced fashions.” Among those at the forefront of the trend are American designers Michael Kors, who coined the style “Afriluxe” as he was inspired by the savannas of Africa, and  Donna Karan, who reportedly was inspired by Haitian artwork.

There are plenty of editorial stylings of young models in tribal-inspired bathing suits, short shorts or short skirts accessorized with layered necklaces and chunky bangles, leather wraps and animal teeth and bones. These looks are exotic, sexy, and sometimes, frankly, a bit costume-y. There are also plenty of outrageously loud and large prints, which have a tendency to wear the wearer unless she has large features and an outsized personality.

Don’t let the extreme stylings put you off. The richness of the patterns and prints and the sense of handmade quality in artisanal jewelry can be exquisite, well worth incorporating into your wardrobe. You may find that prints and jewelry of smaller scale suit you better, particularly if your facial features are small to average in size.

One of my favorite tribal-inspired looks is this dress ($3,895) and necklace ($1,495) from Donna Karan New York, modeled by actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the December 2011/January 2012 spring preview issue of Harper’s Bazaar.  The relatively small scale of the motifs in the fabric make it suitable for women who might find overly large prints unwearable. The arrangement of the motifs accents the waist and bust, emphasizing the model’s shape. The pair of unmatched bracelets from Alexis Bittar ($295 – $375) are the perfect accent. The model also wears hoop earrings ($70) from Roxanne Assoulin for Lee Angel. The look is sexy and sophisticated.

One important caveat about wearing tribal-inspired styles: Choose flattering hues. Most of the designs are decidedly warm-hued and look great worn against skin with golden undertones but can make cool-toned complexions look pasty.  If you are fair with pink or blue undertones to your skin, consider a faux tan as a necessary accessory to these styles.

2 thoughts on “Tribal Vibes

  1. Thanks for your comment, Mary. I’m glad you found my post helpful Re your PS: Peplums are wonderfully flattering for many women. Watch for my upcoming post on the subject of peplums.

  2. Great post, Cynthia – So helpful to learn how to wear the tribal vibe in the real world. Thanks! And I always love to learn more about color, tone and scale in making a trend work for me…or not. Very insightful.
    PS – What do you think of the peplum trend? Dead on arrival or do-able?

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