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.

Stay Grounded with More Chic Low-Heeled Footwear Options

The October 2012 issue of Elle adds its take on the new style of block heels: “Who said fashion is all about tall and skinny? Stay grounded with the season’s short, stacked heels.”

Pictured are a suede sandal with goldtone trim from Gucci, a colorful python cross-strap sandal from Michael Kors, a nude patent calfskin sandal from Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere, and a neutral-hued  python sandal from Celine.

With designers like these jumping on the low-heel bandwagon, there truly are killer shoes that won’t kill your feet available as high-fashion options.

Take a Stroll Around the Block in Block Heels, the Latest Most Wearable Footwear

The October 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar provides its take on what to buy in footwear this season. The recommended style for purchase incorporates a block heel, as seen on the Michael Kors sandal pictured below. Bazaar comments: “A chunky sandal in a metallic hue is right, right now.”

Not only is the block heel style cutting-edge, it is comfortable and stable. That particular $1,595 Michael Kors pair is not in most women’s budgets, so it will be necessary to do some shopping to find other designs with block heels.

Here’s a pair of suede fringe pumps featuring block heels from Prada, available at saksfifthavenue.com. These pumps are $530.

Nordstrom.com has only a few styles that fit the bill, including the color block look below from VC Signature, originally $225, on sale for $111.90.

There are other sandals with chunky heels on Nordstrom.com, but they are almost exclusively platform style sandals. While Harper’s Bazaar says “keep” the single-sole classic style high-heel pump, the magazine says “store” ’70s style platform shoes.

It’s great to be both chic and sure-footed. Take note: It seems that platform shoes may be on their last legs.

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.

“The View” Considers What Your Shoes Do to Your Feet

ABC-TV’s The View has come on board in recognizing the potential for foot problems that may arise with the most fashionable styles of shoes being promoted these days. “Find out if your shoes are ruining your feet,” was one of the lead-ins to the story, which ran on Monday, as was this: “Next, shocking new research has been exposing how the sneakers, heels, slippers and sandals we wear every day can do more damage than ever thought possible, so foot expert and surgeon Dr. Stuart Mogul displayed the latest technology that can stop your feet from literally killing you!”

Co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Joy Behar discussed  with Dr. Mogul the potential damage caused by high heels, ballet flats, flip flops and even athletic shoes.  In the latter case, there is a split of opinion as to whether high-tech athletic shoes are good or bad for the feet. With respect to ballet flats, Dr. Mogul suggested that custom orthotics or over-the-counter inserts might help provide the needed arch support. As for heels, Dr. Mogul suggested optimally limiting them to 2 inches in height. Joy Behar noted that Barbara Walters has a hard time finding 2-inch heels, which she prefers, and has them custom-made.

With respect to sandals, Dr. Mogul suggested some styles to replace flip flops: sandals with a 1- or 2-inch heel and a bit of support. “But they’re not sexy,” whined Sherri Shepherd as the segment wrapped.

They could indeed be sexy. All it takes is a few fearless designers recognizing that shoes can and should be comfortable, creating solutions, and getting the fashion press to take note. If Prada and Chanel, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo start promoting 2-inch heels, they will be the sexiest shoes ever.

See my February 14 post, “The Comfortable Sexy Shoe Matrix” for more on how to find the perfect shoes until the day that happens.

Shoe Sanity

Are there glimmerings of hope that designers once again are creating footwear that is not only stylish enough to appear in the fashion press but also comfortable, somewhere in the vast universe of options between sky-high and pancake-flat? Two items came to my attention as I perused the March 2012 fashion magazines.

This ad for Bally Switzerland appears in the March 2011 issue of Elle magazine. The model wears an elegant pair of slingback heels of 2 1/2 inches in height. The shoes, adorned with tone-on-tone bows, are a neutral shade of beige, a leg-elongating hue for women of fair skin. The shoe style, “Paulinne,” is available on the Bally web site and is priced at $525.00. It is also available in black.

Here’s a close-up of the Paulinne style. Notice the metal wrap around the bottom portion of the heel. If you’ve ever wrecked a pair of shoes by catching the back of the heel, you’ll appreciate this protective yet stylish design detail.

There is also promise at the casual end of the style spectrum. Glamour magazine’s “resident trend tracker” Rajni Lucienne Jacques reports in the March 2012 issue of the magazine, “Every spring I go on a journey to find a not-too-high sandal that satisfies me as much as my usual heels. I want style and comfort at the same time! This season Loeffler Randall answered my prayers.” She reports that the designer’s new Heart LR collection is full of neon clogs that she describes as “Cutesy and chic all at once.”

Pictured in Jacque’s article is a pair of “Inge” ankle-wrap clogs in acid green neon leather on a poplar wood base. The shoes have a 55mm heel (which translates to 2.2 inches). The clogs are available on the Loeffler Randall web site and are priced at $235.00. Jacques tells her readers “I’ll wear them with everything.”

Introducing neon into a wardrobe can be fun, but a more versatile option is the identical style in gold metallic leather, seen above. Metallics can work in a wardrobe as a genuine neutral. The Inge style is also available in black leather on a poplar base.

Ankle wraps, clogs and bows are not suitable choices for everyone, to be sure. I’ll report more options in shoe sanity as I see them profiled in the fashion press.