The Return of Matchy-Matchy

After years, if not decades, of the fashion world turning up its nose at the concept of wearing suites of matching clothing or accessories, matchy-matchy has come back into style in a big way.

“When it comes to this season’s brightest prints, don’t be afraid to double up” advises the September 2015 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

1016 matchy floral print Balenciaga 0916 HB REV

Featured examples of the matchy-matchy look  in the September issue of Bazaar  include a floral print skirt and matching boots from Balenciaga;

1016 matchy pink tweed Chanel 0916 HB REV

. . . a skirt, bag and boots from Chanel;

1016 matchy blue tweed 0916 HB REV

. . . and, my personal favorite, a tweed dress and bag from Loewe.

1016 matchy ballerina print Marc Jacobs 0816 Vogue REV

The August 2016 issue of Vogue features a smaller-scale ballerina print on a matching frame bag and bow-necked dress from Marc Jacobs. Jewelry lovers, please note the exquisite watch from Vacheron Constantin in a fan shape that echoes the shape of the ballerina skirts in the print — fabulous!

1016 matchy 081516 People celebritiesshoes match dresses REV

Aside from prints, matching the color of one’s shoes or boots to one’s ensemble is also making fashion news. People magazine featured celebrities who matched their shoes to their frocks in the August 15, 2016 issue.

1016 matchy coats and boots 0916 InStyle REV

The September 2016 issue of InStyle features monochromatic coat and boots ensembles.

1016 matchy monochromania 0916 Elle REV

The September 2016 issue of Elle goes further, labeling the new trend “monochromania.”

A matching ensemble is the most expensive way to dress, but when the color or print is one you absolutely love, it’s the perfect time to double or triple up on your purchases to incorporate these favorites into your wardrobe. With proper care, you’ll be able to enjoy the print or color well into the future mixed with other pieces in your wardrobe, even after the matchy-matchy trend has once more waned.

Save

Save

Save

The Making of a Memorable Look

The introduction of the fall/winter collections is, for many, the most exciting time of year from a fashion perspective. The heat waves of summer soon to be behind us, the prospect of dressing stylishly and comfortably in layers beckons.

Here’s one example of how to combine a number of the season’s trends flawlessly: boots, slacks, a slouchy textured sweater with a turtleneck, a cross-body bag, and stacks of bracelets. The visual look of the multiple bracelets echoes the folds of the pushed-up sleeves of the sweater. The look is comfortable, practical and wonderfully chic.

There is something reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy in this look, as she was known for wearing white slacks, and the model’s thick side-swept tresses are reminiscent of the former First Lady’s hairstyle.  This styling appears in the August 2012 issue of  Town & Country.

Wearing white pants tucked into knee-high boots requires slim calves. To adapt this look if you don’t have the long, slender legs of a model, wear slacks in a dark hue combined with flats or booties (the latter especially on-trend this season) in the same color as the slacks to give you the longest possible visual line.

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.

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.

Long Sparkly Earrings for Day – Adopt or Adapt the Look?

Long sparkly earrings are a mainstay of evening wear. This season, they are also having a moment in the sun, as fashion editorials suggest readers “Wear them during the day — they’re not just for evening anymore” (April 2012 O the Oprah Magazine); “Put on a pair and expect major fireworks, as even your standby tank top becomes spectacular” (May 2012 InStyle); and “If you buy just one pair of earrings this spring. . . make them long and sparkly” (April 2012 Glamour).

Illustration: Samples of long sparkly earrings featured in the April 2012 issue of Allure.

If you decide to adopt this style, keep in mind that this style of earrings should be worn with a certain amount of attitude. Harper Bazaar‘s take on this look is spot-on: “Shelve those trusty diamond studs in favor of these impossibly sweet but stylishly off-kilter costume drops.” (March 2012 Harper’s Bazaar).

Whether you adopt this style with earrings incorporating real gemstones or the costume jewelry variety, these earrings worn during the day are all essentially a “stylishly off-kilter” costume look. The style is cheeky, sassy, insouciant. The message of these earrings comes through loud and clear.

It is incumbent upon you to decide whether these adjectives applicable to the style describe the image you wish to convey. In certain situations, when you want to approach fashion in a fun and lighthearted way, you may find that long sparkly earrings add just the right flare to an ensemble.

But keep an eye on this fad, and I do think it is merely that. Wearing long sparkly earrings during the daytime after the fashion influencers have moved on to the next big thing will make you look sadly out of date, and rather like a young girl playing with the sparkly things in her mother’s jewelry box.

If you love this festive style of earrings, take heart. They have a place in your jewelry wardrobe. Happily, long sparkly earrings for evening are always appropriate.

Applied Geometry

Geometric shapes are having a heyday. They appear not only in vibrant print fabrics made into all manner of apparel but also as motifs in bags and shoes and especially in jewelry, which lends itself beautifully to incorporating the lines and angles of geometry.

The February 2012 issue of Real Simple magazine calls “mod geometry” in graphic prints “the most wearable trend right now” and salutes the designs as “fresh and bright as spring itself.”

While bright prints often do have a happy vibe, wearing oversized geometric prints is difficult to carry off. The trick is finding prints that you can wear without them wearing you.

There are two components to choosing vibrant geometric prints.

One component is psychological. Does the thought of wearing a large-scale geometric print make you uncomfortable? Trust your instincts. The vividness of the print is almost certainly bolder than your personality. Move on.

The other component is physical. Does a particular print flatter you in where and how it draws the eye? When you wear the garment, do your features and coloring recede into the background?

If you look at the photo of the model, upper right, you can see that she appears to be a walking print. On first viewing, her own form and features play second fiddle to the vivid color and large-scale motif of what she is wearing. If you look closely, you’ll see that the small-scale print on her collar, the narrow line of a sheer skirt under the dress, and her handbag all serve as buffers between the oversized print on her dress and her features. These details make the oversized print more wearable.

Don’t take the runway image of a model wearing a garment as an example of how a garment should look on you. Remember, models are selected to show off the garments; the garments are not chosen to emphasize the looks of the model. When you are shopping for your wardrobe, you want your choices to make you look good. It’s not about showing the clothes to advantage; it’s about you looking your best.

There is yet another consideration in choosing a bright oversized geometric print: Such prints are extremely memorable. If you wear that yellow print in any setting once, everyone but everyone will remember that you wore it previously the next time you wear it. Not everyone may find the print charming. Quite aside from what others think, consider whether you yourself might tire of a particular print.

There is a time to break the rules. If you absolutely love the print and the garment incorporating the print, enjoy it and wear it with attitude. If you love the print but not the garment, find a way to wear the print on something that is less unflattering. Incorporating the print into an accessory such as a handbag might do the trick — think of this suggestion as “applied geometry.”

Geometric designs in jewelry can be much easier to wear, in part because most jewelry is inherently closer in size to the wearer’s features. For a review of current geometric designs in jewelry, visit my blog post “Advanced Geometry Lessons in Jewelry” in my Jewelry Fashion File blog on www.jckonline.com.

Peplums, Please!

One of the most significant trends for spring 2012 is the resurgence of the peplum – a short expanse of fabric that extends down and out from a defined waist and is worn over a skirt or pants. The effect of the peplum is emphasis on curves, a style technique that is flattering to most women.

The April 2012 issue of Allure associates the peplum with such diverse temptresses as Aphrodite, Scarlett O’Hara, Ava Gardner and such styles as Grecian tunics, 19th-Century riding habits and Christian Dior’s post World War II “New Look.” Allure advises: “For the most flattering figure, take a clue from Celine and offset peplums with a slim skirt or pair of pants.”

The Celine peplum is not the easiest version to wear. Notice that the waistline of the garment appears to fall above the model’s natural waist, which visually throws the proportions off. It’s easier to see the potential for a flattering silhouette in the dress from DKNY pictured lower left. Allure’s montage of photos demonstrates that peplums can be found as design elements of skirts, tops, or dresses. The photo bottom right shows Princess Diana wearing a peplum jacket skirt suit in 1986.

Another version of the peplum that is not easy to wear is this version from Yves Saint Laurent, pictured in the April 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Here the peplum starts at about the level of the waist, but the garment does not fit closely against the body (as styled on the model shown here); the result is an oversized top that does little to define curves on the model. The garment would be more flattering if the waist were fitted to the model. The slim pants work well with the top.

The April 2012 issue of InStyle answers a reader’s inquiry, “What are the key things to look for when buying a peplum dress?” The response: “Go minimal (sleeveless styles work best), and be sure the flare starts at your waist—the thinnest part of your torso—and ends at your hip bone. (If it’s too long, it may end up looking like a skirt.) For a sleek effect, stay dark and monochromatic, and add pumps.” The photo pictures actress Dianna Agron wearing a sleek black peplum dress from Stella McCartney.  InStyle‘s advice is spot-on.

Not all fashion magazine editors have taken a liking to peplums. Anne Slowey writes in the March 2012 issue of Elle magazine: “Personally, I think it’s never a good idea to accentuate one’s derriere with a geometric shape; I don’t care how skinny you are. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: A lot of fabric covering one’s ass is just that—a lot of fabric.”

Slowey goes on to reveal that the peplum “brings to mind those Hollywood grandes dames of the studio era such as Joan Crawford or Rosalind Russell. Big-boned and big-mouthed, these gals embodied qualities that are a drag queen’s dream, with all their sharp wit and exaggerated personalities, on-screen and off. To that end, I don’t care how many designers try to reinvent this wheel; the peplum will always smack of a bit of melodrama.”

Slowey continues: “If you want to give the peplum a whirl, stick to the more wearable ones—like those from Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein or Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, who treat the trend with such a delicate hand as to be barely perceptible. Their versions succeed at being dressy without a lot of fuss. To wit: Stefano Pilati for YSL worked his into a flirty yet simple top. For the more intellectually minded, Phoebe Philo at Celine gave the look a utilitarian, deconstructed edge by detaching hers at the waist. But beware those who borrow this silhouette booster with little or no interpretation. They not only look dated but uncomfortable, which is a worse fashion foul by far.”

The key to wearing a peplum style that flatters is all about fit:  The garment must fit closely at the natural waistline and flare from that point. The effect is to repeat or enhance a woman’s curves.

With that in mind, consider this example from the pages of the January 2012 issue of Vogue, picturing a jacket, vest, sweater and zippered peplum from Vera Wang. The placement of the waistline is all wrong, and the result is an odd bump that doesn’t relate to the model’s body. The slim pants from Yves Saint Laurent almost give the model the look of two hips – a high peplum-created hip plus her natural hip. This is a look best avoided.

The delicate treatment of peplums by Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy referenced by Anne Slowey of Elle also appears in the January 2012 issue of Vogue. The lines of the jacket seem to follow the shape of the model’s form, and the result, delicate or not, is quite charming.

Don’t be put off by the nay-sayers. Peplums can be extremely flattering, both for women with slender shapes and also for women with curvaceous high hips and generous thighs.

On “Fashion Star”

I agree with the critics that there were distracting and unnecessary production effects (dancers! smoke machines!) in the debut of NBC-TV’s Fashion Star last Tuesday evening, but there is plenty of underlying value to the show that merits positive comment. That value is centered on the business aspects of fashion. Many a designer has started with an idea and a sewing machine and lots of hard work. Unlike Project Runway, which focuses on the fascinating creative process, Fashion Star focuses on the no less nail-biting process of marketing. The show requires each designer to feature one item, shown in three variations, during the week’s runway show. Buyers for Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, and H&M then have the option of bidding on each design. One of the designers who receives no offers is eliminated each week.

As usual with fashion shows, the skirts were as barely legal in length as the models were in age. There were some ho-hum looks and some sparks of wonderful creativity in evidence. There are two designers in particular whose designs piqued my interest during the premiere episode of the show.

The full-figured designer Lizzie Parker created an asymmetrical dress that was picked up by Macy’s, which the buyer extolled because designer herself could wear it and it worked for a range of sizes. I was surprised to read on the show’s web site that Parker limits the line to sizes 0 to 16, barely making a dent in addressing the needs of full-figured women. This is an inexplicable marketing decision for a designer who had found full-figured styles wanting.

The most intriguing design presented during the show received no offers and landed the designer in the bottom two. I would have made this design the winner of the episode. Designer Kara Laricks created an extraordinary accessory for a woman who wants a bit of androgynous, cutting edge style:  a fabric collar to which is attached a tie that can be worn in various ways and with just about anything, from a dress to a blazer and top. Laricks makes the pieces from deconstructed men’s shirts. Thus far, she is limiting collar size to 16 1/2 inches, which will limit her potential buyers, another inexplicable marketing decision.  I was pleased to see that Laricks is receiving so many orders that she is anticipating a 4 to 6 week wait time on orders at the time I am writing this post. The pieces are available at: http://www.collarstandtie.com/shop-unisex-ties.html.

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 jckonline.com 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.