Too Covered Up: How Alterations Can Make All the Difference

In People  magazine’s “StyleWatch” in its June 4, 2012 issue, pretty lace dresses are featured as the best looks of the week.  Seeing dresses side-by-side provides an opportunity to consider the pluses and minuses of a particular look.

As much as I love Valentino, that designer’s red lace dress worn by Kim Kardashian falls short when compared with the similar Diane von Furstenberg white lace dress worn by Jordin Sparks. The red dress is not optimally flattering to Kardashian. The very covered-up design of the dress is almost certainly meant to tone down the sexiness of sheer red lace worn over a light slip. The demure design details, however, go too far.

Kardashian’s delicate face looks out of sync with the expanse of red lace below it. A wider neckline, such as that on  Sparks’ dress or on the very different style BCBG Max Azria dress worn by Kristen Stewart, would make the bodice of the red dress look less blocky.  The neckline need not dip low to accomplish a dramatic difference in effect.

Raising the sleeves to elbow or three-quarters length, as seen on Sparks’ dress, or making the dress entirely sleeveless, like Stewart’s, would also substantially reduce the blocky effect of the Valentino. Showing all or a portion of the arms visually enforces the hourglass shape.

The length of the red dress is demure, to be sure, but because the skirt tapers, it also allows the dress enough length to emphasize the hourglass shape of the wearer. Raising the hem by an inch or two would also be flattering. So too would exchanging the ankle-wrap strappy sandals for pumps such as those worn by Stewart. The ankle-wrap visually shortens Kardashian’s legs.

The ensembles worn by Hollywood’s darlings often go too far in exposing too much, but here’s an example where a look is too covered. up. A few alterations and a change of shoes would make all the difference.

Why Aviators Don’t Always Fly

Ray-Ban Aviators mark their 75th anniversary this June, as highlighted in the June 2012 issue of InStyle magazine. InStyle relates that Aviators ascended to icon status in the movie Top Gun, worn by the movie’s strong-jawed protagonists:

Aviators have plenty of fans. In the June 2012 issue of Allure magazine, for example, a boutique owner assessing summer fashion trends promotes oversized aviators, saying that they “look sharp on all face shapes.” I disagree.

Before you jump on the Aviator bandwagon or wear similarly shaped eyewear, consider whether this frame shape is truly flattering. Aviators generally look great on individuals with square faces, which have strong angular jaw lines. They also look great on most  individuals with heart-shaped  or triangular faces with a narrow jaw, and on those lucky folks who have an oval-shaped face on which it seems just about everything looks good.

If you have any tendency toward jowls, or a soft and wide jawline, as with a characteristically short and wide round face or a pear-shaped face, however, aviator-shaped glasses are not  flattering. The shape of the frames draws the eye down and outward and the soft rounded lower edge of the lenses repeats the softness and roundness of your features.

1950’s style cat’s eye sunglasses, as those seen here in the June 2012 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, may be a great choice for you. Choose a style that brings the eye up rather than down.  And see if the visual lift created by the sunglasses doesn’t also raise your mouth up into a smile.

The Other Shoes Have Dropped

For those of us who are proponents of comfortable footwear, there is good news that appears in a half-page write-up in the May 2012 issue of Vogue: “The news from the fall 2012 collections, which you may not be able to wait a moment to try this spring: Shoes are down, way, way, way down, in elevation. . . . [T]his season it’s finally true: Low is the new high.”

Pictured are ankle-strap accented red pumps from Valentino Garavani and Southwest-influenced low-heel pumps from Manolo Blahnik. Vogue mentions Chloe as another line with “relatively small but chunky heels around a couple of inches at most.”

With preeminent designers embracing this low-heel trend, shoe shopping is going to be a joy once more.

“Marie Claire @ Work” Still Not Grasping the Concept

The second edition of “Marie Claire @Work,” supplement to Marie Claire magazine, is out, showing a picture of actress Salma Hayek on the cover. Unlike actress Katie Holmes, who appeared on the cover of the first edition in a bathing suit, Hayek is dressed in a fashionable version of a suit. She looks spectacular in a cutaway jacket and  tight skirt from Alexander McQueen and “her own” low-cut vest that flaunts her cleavage.

The look is entirely appropriate for a mega-star known for her sex appeal. However, posing in a look that draws all eyes to her breasts and the rest of her extraordinary figure, she is not a role model of how to dress for women who want to succeed in the corporate world. There is a time to look breathtakingly sexy. While at work is not that time.

The “@ Work” supplement is a publication targeted to professional and other working women, self-described as “Your Get-Ahead Guide for Career, Style & Success.”  The rest of the “@ Work” supplement is a combination of good advice and some very misguided ideas. Among the features is a six-page spread entitled “Office Supplies” purporting to demonstrate: “Style investments inspired by yesteryear’s essentials” including “rings the size of paperweights.”

This photo from the ”@ Work” supplement demonstrates Marie Claire‘s idea of how a work look might be accessorized, putting together five wristwatches, a bracelet, and eight cocktail rings. The appropriateness of the styling has as much credence as the likelihood of finding the pictured powder blue manual typewriter at a place of business.

Another photo from the same feature shows an open-weave lace skirt accompanied by bracelets and rings that almost certainly would catch on the weave of the skirt. The peek-a-boo style of the skirt, as attractive as it is, presents another office no-no.

In choosing work wear, it’s important to consider the image one wants to convey. Overtly sexy fashion choices and an over-abundance of jewelry do not support a professional image. There are all manner of ways to adapt current fashions so as to look stylish and yet be office-appropriate in dress.

It’s time for fashion magazines that purport to provide style guidance to working women, to employ stylists –  or to engage image consultants – who have spent time in the corporate world outside the realm of fashion, and who can provide the magazines with a reality check.