Not So Hot Under the Collars

Wide collar-style necklaces may have an aesthetic appeal, but they are notoriously difficult to wear, as recent fashion photographs confirm.

1115 collar InStyle Zoe Kravitz in Dior REV

1115 collar InStyle Zoe Kravitz in Dior CU REV

Actress Zoe Kravitz makes the best-dressed list in the November 2015 issue of InStyle. One of the photos pictures her at the Guggenheim International Gala Dinner wearing a white crop top and split skirt from Dior, accented with a thick pearl collar necklace with an enormous blue cabochon. The necklace separates her head from her body, almost making it appear to be pasted onto the photograph, just a tad larger than might be expected for such a slender frame. The unfortunate accessory distracts the eye and makes it look as though she has no neck.

1115 collar InStyle Hailee Steinfeld in Stella McCartney Jennifer Fisher neck cuff REV

Better  is this look, also pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle declared to be the “best dress” of the issue. Actress Hailee Steinfeld wears a Stella McCartney ensemble with flared pants and cape, again in solid white, accented with a wide Jennifer Fisher collar.  The actress has a slender neck, long enough to accommodate the necklace, and its plain design complements the sleek look of her ensemble. With the wide shoulders of the cape, her face appears to be in proportion to the rest of her body.

1115 collar story InStyle Drew Barrymore long neck Etro choker REV

The ideal neck length for any wide collar-style necklace is long, longer, longest. Actress Drew Barrymore, pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle, demonstrates how this might look. Indeed, she is pictured in a Dior dress and coat from The Row accessorized with a slender metal choker from Etro. This is a look that can accommodate much more of a statement piece on the actress’s neck.

1115 collar InStyle thin neck cuffs REV

For the vast majority of women with average or short necks, slender metal collars are a far better choice than a thick collar. The same issue of InStyle spotlights four examples of cuff-style collars that are narrow and have an opening in the front. The exposed skin on the neck is a look flattering to most everyone.

Awkward Necklaces

“Necklaces should always be chosen with the neckline you’ll be wearing in mind. ” Thus I concluded my blog post in September 2013, ” Necklines & Necklaces:  The Issue When Everything Is the Same Perfect Length.”

A spate of recent examples in the fashion press of necklaces not chosen to coordinate with necklines prompts my post today.

0415 awkward necklace Y choker over wide neck More 0315 REV

A pair of examples derive from the same fashion spread in the March 2015 issue of More magazine. The first example pairs a thin rigid collar necklace with a drop, visually creating a Y-shape, with an overly large knit tee shirt that looks to be puckering rather than lying flat. The necklace hangs awkwardly over the neckline of the tee, further drawing attention to the problematic neckline. The top was not chosen with consideration for the necklace or the model. In my opinion, the necklace is also too delicate a design for the model, who is tall and has strong features.

0415 awkward necklace ladder style More 0315 no 1 REV

0415 awkward necklace ladder style More 0315 no 1 CU 72dpi 6 in wide

A substantial necklace more flattering to the model appears in the second photo, but again here, the neckline of the ensemble clashes with the necklace. The necklace, with its rigid chunky lattice design, is placed over the vee shape of the neckline, creating a jarring visual effect. The lovely flowing lines of the ensemble would be much better served with a long pendant necklace, which would extend the vee of the neckline.

0415 awkward necklace Kelly Ripa Shape 0315 tee over camisole REV

My final example is modeled by actress Kelly Ripa, whose necklace dips to meet the neckline of her camisole in this photo from the March 2015 issue of Shape magazine. The necklace is just about at the sweet spot of her first balance point, as is her neckline. The result: a visual clash. The necklace looks droopy, not an adjective that any woman of a certain age wants to embrace. Shortening the necklace a couple of inches, or choosing a different necklace at a shorter collar length, would make all the difference.

How Not to Conceal a Tummy: The Necklace Effect (Repost from My TrulyJewelry.com Blog)

A note to my TrulyBecoming.com blog followers:  I hope you have discovered my new jewelry blog that launched in late 2013 at www.TrulyJewelry.com – it focuses on “the what, why and how of wearing jewelry well.” (TM)  Here’s today’s post, which provides useful tips on how to (and how not to) conceal a tummy.

The haphazard addition of jewelry to an ensemble can completely change its visual effect when it redirects the focus of the viewer. An excellent example of this result appears in the February 2014 issue of InStyle, in an article sharing “editors’ best shape secrets.”

pendant necklace spilling how not to conceal tummy REV

The above photograph purportedly demonstrates how to “conceal a tummy,” the editors stating: “To cover a muffin top without venturing into muumuu territory, skip fitted Ts in favor of loose, untucked designs, like this one. Styles with ruching, draping, or center-resting colorblocking all do your midsection favors.”

Skimming over what is perceived as a problematic portion of one’ s anatomy is more flattering than accentuating the area with a snug, fitted garment. The style of the T by Alexander Wang shirt is excellent, the three-quarter length sleeves also contributing to the visual effect of a more slender waist. Shiny silk satin, however, is an odd choice – its highly reflective surface makes the garment, and the wearer, appear larger.

But it is the necklace pictured that counters the flattering shape of the shirt. The necklace itself is lovely, a pendant design in fluorite and gold vermeil by Margaret Elizabeth. Slung over the model’s neck and spilling over the collar of the shirt, however, it distorts the neckline of the garment, making the collar and button placket wrinkle. (I addressed this issue in a blog post for JCK Magazine back in October 2009.)  Wearing the necklace over the shirt, under its collar, would be a less distracting option for combining the pendant necklace with the shirt. (Watch for more examples of this styling approach in an upcoming blog post.)

Consider what the pendant necklace visually accomplishes — it draws attention downward and points to the models’ stomach, exactly the part of her anatomy this ensemble is supposedly trying to conceal.

A better choice would be a short necklace that peeks out from under the collar of the shirt. A single-strand necklace would be ideal, keeping the neckline open and allowing the shirt to do its flattering work. A short necklace would also draw attention up to the face — and draw attention away from and help conceal the tummy.

 

When Necklaces & Necklines Clash

Some garments are especially tricky to accessorize, as they are so full of eye-catching details that they demand the full attention of the eye. The drawstring neck of a hippie Boho-style dress from Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane is such a garment.

On the cover of the April 2013 issue of Marie Claire magazine, actress Olivia Wilde wears this dress, the drawstrings tied loosely and the front of the dress open low. Despite all there is to see with this decidedly sexy dress, the stylists for the magazine chose to add two necklaces – a short pendant necklace from Eva Fehren that lays above the neckline of the dress, and a chain with a much larger starburst-shaped pendant from H. Stern.

The starburst pendant is lovely, but it extends several inches under the neckline of the dress and is hidden under the drawstrings. The placement of the pendant makes no sense. It distracts from the dress and yet itself is unable to be appreciated fully as it is half-hidden. And the dress needs no help drawing attention to Wilde’s figure.

The shorter necklace is lovely too, but it is simply too small to contribute any kind of visual impact to Wilde’s look.

When choosing a necklace, always give consideration to the neckline of the garment with which the necklace will be worn. If the neckline is particularly detailed and eye-catching, the best choice may well be to forego any type of necklace. A cocktail-size ring or a set of rings, the latter a popular choice this season, would be a superb substitution.

How Not to Wear a Diamond Necklace

While it’s the bustline darts on Anne Hathaway’s Oscar gown that have garnered the lion’s share of negative attention, her choice of jewelry for the Academy Awards is equally puzzling.

Hathaway wore a pink Prada apron-style gown, Asian in its design influence, accessorized with over $300,000 worth of platinum and diamond jewels from Tiffany & Co. The stud earrings were stunning in size if uninspired in design, and the pair of bracelets were exquisite. The necklace, however, is inexplicable.

The necklace consists of elaborate alternating floral motifs that had nothing in common with the sleek linear design of the pink gown or Hathaway’s sporty hairstyle – from a style perspective, a mismatch. But far worse is that the necklace was too long for the square neckline of the gown. The necklace was tied or otherwise rigged in back to pull it higher in front so that the necklace didn’t fall over the neckline of the gown. The result was a miniature ponytail loop of diamonds created from the stump of the necklace at the back of Hathaway’s neck, adding fussiness to what was otherwise the stunning sleek design of the back of the dress.

It is curious that Tiffany & Co. didn’t have a jeweler on hand who could have taken out some of the necklace links to allow the necklace to fit properly or better yet, provided jewelry designs that better matched the style of the gown.

Hathaway has been reported in the press to receive a substantial sum of money to wear Tiffany  & Co.’s jewelry designs when she co-hosted the Oscars in 2011.  None of that jewelry was memorable. The Tiffany & Co. jewelry selected for her to wear in 2013 has been worse than disappointing. It might be time for her to engage an objective stylist who doesn’t have a vested interest in her choice of jewelry. . . . and who also can recognize a red carpet gown likely to land her on the worst dressed list.

How to Layer Necklaces

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is so stunning that she could likely make anything she wears look good. But I may have found a jewelry combination that even she couldn’t pull off.

Consider this ad for Lauren Ralph Lauren running in the December issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.  The model (who is unidentified, not Bundchen) wears four necklaces: a short chunky chain, a short rigid collar or choker, a long chain of oval links with larger double oval accents, and a necklace of long rectangular links accented with what looks to be crystal or plastic spacers.

The issue I see with the styling is that there is no focal point. The thick choker renders the shorter linked necklace superfluous and competes visually with the two long strands, which in turn compete visually with the bright orange belt and metallic belt buckle below. The eye doesn’t know where to look. Even if the model’s shirt were buttoned and the belt hidden, the necklaces do not work together. The only design element the necklaces share is metal color.

The single longest necklace, with its rectangular links, takes on a somewhat jagged shape that starts and stops and does not flow, a shape that clashes with the smooth rounded shape of the next longest necklace. Those two necklaces do not complement each other. Notice too how the awkward angle of the longest necklace at bottom right emphasizes the angular shape of the jawline of the model.

Next consider this beautifully styled ad:  In a current ad for David Yurman jewelry running in the December issue of Vogue, Bundchen wears a starburst pendant necklace plus five other necklace strands of varying widths with an alluring off-the-shoulder sweater. Three of the strands that are identical may actually be one necklace wrapped three times around her neck. The necklaces are layered beautifully, highlighting the pendant and providing a nested effect with a visual focal point.

Layering necklaces is more of an art than a science, but the overall effect of any combination  is easily determined. Evaluate any look by considering where the eye is directed. If the eye is confused, the look will benefit by revision.

How might one revise the Lauren Ralph Lauren styling? First, eliminate the choker, which interferes with the long line created by the deep vee of the open shirt and further emphasized by the long necklaces. Eliminate the short chain necklace too, as its impact is de minimus. Choose a pair of longer necklaces that complement each other, one slightly shorter than the other (which may require taking out several links, a task easily accomplished by any jeweler), or wear only one long necklace. Either replace the bright belt or intend for the belt to be the focus of the ensemble. The overall look will be less cluttered, more cohesive, sporty and chic.

Great Style Has No Size But Some Jewelry Does

I salute InStyle magazine on its new monthly feature “Great Style Has No Size!” under the heading “Your Look: Full-Figure Flair” which debuted in November 2012. As the magazine explains in the initial feature: “We heard you! You asked to see the trends in silhouettes cut for your body, so take note: When it comes to outerwear, the fashion-savvy are selecting statement coats in bold hues or with eye-catching details.”

The outerwear featured is an attractive mix of styles, some of which will work better on some full-figured shapes than on others, nuances which necessarily go beyond the scope of a one-page magazine article.

InStyle adds style tips to the three looks at left. With the blue jacket from Catherine’s, InStyle comments: “A short style works best when it’s at least fingertip length. Skinny pants balance the looser shape on top.” A fingertip-length jacket also works just fine on women with less than slender legs for whom skinny pants are not an option. To my eye, skinny pants may make the figure look out of proportion for a well-proportioned full-figured woman. Straight-cut or slightly boot-cut pants provide a visually cohesive and well-proportioned look top to toe.

With the red coat from Marina Rinaldi, InStyle comments: “Draw attention up to your face by echoing the coat’s open neckline with a similarly revealing dress.” That’s all well and good when the point of the coat isn’t warmth but style. However, reality requires a more practical approach. Cover up the clavicle by adding a non-bulky woven wool scarf.

InStyle comments about the third coat in patterned wool from Talbots: “Two full-body prints equal visual overload. Instead, let the patterned piece take center stage by combining it with a solid.” The combination pictured is attractive (the dress is from Elie Tahari), but the rule is more limiting than it needs to be. A nuanced discussion of what designs would work with the coat would take more than a few lines of text.

The footwear pictured merits discussion. The suede skimmers from Pretty Ballerinas shown with the blue jacket ensemble are practical and cute. The black booties shown with the red coat and sexy dress from Lane Bryant are not flattering, as they make the model’s legs look shorter. The heavy straps of the high heeled sandals at right draw the eye first, negating the effort of coordinating dress and coat.

There’s another detail that requires comment about the ensembles pictured. With the red coat, the model wears a delicate necklace of rose gold vermeil from Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry. With the print coat, the model wears a short necklace of Swarovski crystal and hematite plate from Lionette Designs by Noa Sade.

I visited the Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry web site and learned that the designer’s necklaces are uniformly 16 inches long, but that a purchaser can specify in the special instructions the length of the chain desired, a helpful option.

The Dakota necklace pictured from Lionette Designs by Noa Sade is only 15 inches long. When I inquired as to whether the necklace could be ordered in a different length, I was told that the necklace is “a comfortable fitting collar as shown in [the] InStyle shot,” that it is not adjustable, and that it comes only in that one standard size.

A 15-inch necklace is a collar length that will work only for a woman with a fairly slender neck; even 16 inches is very short. Many women who wear misses’ sizes require a necklace of 16 to 17 inches. Working with full-figured women over the years as an image consultant, I have learned that a necklace of 18 to 20 inches is a more appropriate length for many full-figured women.

Designers run into practical considerations in producing jewelry. Clearly, it is less expensive to produce a necklace in a 15-inch length than it is to produce a necklace some 20 or 25 percent longer. However, the short necklace length will not work for most full-figured women and designers limiting their selections to that length will be losing a huge potential market for their designs.

If InStyle wants to serve the full-figured women’s market with the “Great Style Has No Size!” feature, the magazine needs to promote designs that accommodate realistic neck sizes. One-size-fits-all does not hold true in jewelry. Any article that purports to outfit full-figured women needs to take into consideration not only the size of the garments, but also the size of the jewelry being promoted.