Vogue Gets Real

If you’re one of the fashion magazine fans who has felt that Vogue magazine has little relevance to the real-life needs of the vast majority of women, you may be intrigued and delighted by a new feature that the magazine introduced with the August 2012 issue, “What to Wear Where.”

Here’s what the magazine says about the new content, calling the development “Keeping it Real”: “we introduce WHAT TO WEAR WHERE, a new monthly feature of practical solutions to those SPECIFIC SARTORIAL CHALLENGES we encounter in our WORK LIFE (slick envelope clutches and portfolio bags transport papers and iPads with EFFICIENT PANACHE) and our everyday family ménage.”

The first installment features six looks and  “six supersleek, superchic handbags” that “speak to how efficient and modern you can be,” whether you’re dealing with a job interview, television pitch, lunch with investors, or other work duties. Some of the looks shown are so fashion-forward as to be more appropriate for creative fields rather than conservative businesses, but none of the looks push the inappropriate overt sexiness that sidetracked Marie Claire magazine in its efforts to create an “@ Work” spin-off supplement.

Here’s a skirt look from Sacai worn with a leather bag from Derek Lam, pumps from Calvin Klein Collection, and a statement cuff bracelet from Abraxas Rex by Paris Kain. About the bag, Vogue states: “An earthy, neutral bag (no hardware, no nonsense) sends an elegant but warm message when you’re making the sales pitch. . . .”

A jacket and pants ensemble from Max Mara, worn with a calfskin bag from Emilio Pucci, a statement necklace from Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, and a pair of rings–a signet ring from Mannin Fine Jewelry and a Hoorsenbuhs ring from Barneys–create a blueprint for success, says Vogue:  “Akin to the scarlet power ties of the 1980s, royal-blue accessories today are a clear statement of confidence–just the right tone when you’re asking the CEO for a promotion.

These descriptions are spot-on, as if vetted by, if not actually written by, an image consultant. This is genuinely practical advice, the difference between pushing trends and helping women find fashions that meet their needs. I am eager to read more in coming months.

Festival Fashion Don’ts

The news that the U.S. Olympic team’s apparel, supplied by American designer Ralph Lauren, is being manufactured in China has caused a firestorm of criticism. The concern relates to something more than national pride – it relates also to issues about the working conditions of the workers who produce the clothing.

According to Robert J.S. Ross, a professor of sociology at Clark University, who wrote an op-ed piece entitled “A fashion don’t”  published in today’s Los Angeles Time, the Olympic team women’s skirt produced in China costs $498. Ross states that Chinese producers officially pay their workers between 93 cents and just over $1 an hour, although unofficially many workers earn less and rarely get a day off. Ross urges the U.S. Olympic Committee to ensure its logo gear is sweatshop free, wherever it is made.

Attending festivals is a delightful part of the summer season, and seeing what the vendors have to offer is part of the fun. For instance, the Festival of the Arts in Hermosa Beach, California, held on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends each year, is a delightful opportunity to enjoy festive music and tasty food and to shop for artwork, clothing and trinkets under the Southern California sun.

I relish the opportunity to browse through handmade artwork, clothing and jewelry designs at the festivals. There’s something wonderfully special about acquiring an item created by a local vendor, and always associating the item with the place it was purchased and the story behind it.

What I find sad, however, is seeing the throngs of women crowding the booths where jewelry is being sold for as little as a dollar or two.

I can’t fault the high school students or others with limited resources for taking advantage of an opportunity to buy something fun for a song. For the rest, consider: If the jewelry is being sold for so little, imagine what the vendor paid for it and its likely source. These products are a fashion don’t.

Styling Perfection: Nuances of Color

Every so often I come across a photograph of a fashion styling that stops me in my tracks. Savannah Guthrie, NBC-TV’s Today‘s new anchor, looks phenomenal in this photograph published in People magazine, wearing a dress by David Meister and earrings by Kimberly McDonald, styled by Stacey Kalchman.

The color of the dress is perfection with Guthrie’s eyes, bringing out their arresting color. The vee of the neckline of her dress is an ideal depth, coming to Guthrie’s first balance point. The subtle weave of the dress repeats the nuances of color seen in Guthrie’s hair, the warm yellow being a near-complementary color to the blue hues.

And the earrings — if you ever wonder why I encourage my clients to seek the perfect pair of earrings, here is a demonstration of why. The colors of the earrings pick up the hues from Guthrie’s eyes as well as those in her hair. The shape of the earrings subtly reflects the vee neckline of the dress. The center stone is an eye-catching natural beauty, full of mystery and nuance. The earrings sit on her ear lobes in an appropriately professional style, bringing attention up to Guthrie’s face. And the diamonds surrounding the center stone add a touch of dazzle, the perfect accessory for a rising star.

Watch for opportunities to attend jewelry trunk shows, where you can see the full line of designs and colors from a designer. Try on different designs and observe what styles are most flattering to you. If you’re not sure where to start, engage the services of a professional image consultant to help you determine your best colors and to point out the nuances of design in your own person. It is those nuances that make you individually and beautifully you.