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.

Clueless as to What Works at Work

I was excited to see the brand new, recently published supplement to Marie Claire magazine, Marie Claire @ Work.”  This might provide a wonderful resource for my blog readers, I mused.

Alas, the first impression given off by the magazine supplement is one of cluelessness. Actress Katie Holmes is the cover model, not exactly the archetype of a working woman, although goodness knows, in-demand actresses with children and high-visibility celebrity husbands no doubt work very, very hard.

Holmes appears to wear a sleeveless garment, seemingly uncomfortably  crisscrossed over her breasts with gold metallic strapping that then fastens around her waist. What manner of professional work apparel is this?

A quick peek at the credits reveals that the garment is a belted swimsuit. Yes, a swimsuit. Belted. From Michael Kors. Something NO professional woman will be wearing to work unless, of course, she’s a swimsuit model.  (And hey, it’s not like Michael Kors doesn’t design all manner of beautiful looks perfectly appropriate for the professional woman at work. He does.) Articles about brilliant career women juggling their home lives and professional successes cannot make up for this inexplicable faux pas of a first impression.