Bad Design on Repeat: Spring’s Loosely Woven Bags

No doubt we all see fashions from time to time that we simply cannot appreciate. Whether the design constitutes a reminder of personal bad choices with which we dabbled in the past, or combines pieces or colors in ways that jar and repel us, there’s likely something presented as new each season by designers that doesn’t meet our personal aesthetic.

Some design ideas are bad for quite another reason – they are entirely impractical. This spring one style that has seen a resurgence is that of woven handbags. I’m not talking about tightly woven designs, such as the beautiful traditional Italian leathers of design houses like Bottega Veneta or summertime rigid wicker bags. I’m talking about loose weave, macramé-like designs. While these designs may have some eye appeal, they are remarkably impractical and can be downright dangerous to carry.

From the Spring 2021 issue of C California magazine, examples of tightly woven bags by Kate Spade New York and Maje M, plus a net “Filet Le Pliage bag from Longchamp and a macramé-embellished leather tote from Tod’s.

From the Spring 2021 issue of DuJour  magazine, a wicker bag from Celine by Hedi Slimane and a macramé bag from Fendi.

Consider you have one of these loosely woven bags slung over a shoulder or carried on your arm, and the weave catches as you walk by a store display, a door handle, the arm of a chair. . . . and suddenly you feel the tug and then the horror of knowing that your designer bag may cause damage to property if not bodily harm!  (Do I sound like a lawyer?)

The only thing worse than a loosely woven bag is a loosely woven skirt . . . . as pictured in the Spring 2021 issue of C California magazine. The look is great so long as you don’t sit down anywhere any part of the skirt might catch. When the look provides so little coverage, at least you won’t be exposing more if and when the inevitable rip occurs.

eBay: Better Than Ever for Savvy Shoppers

If you haven’t shopped on eBay in a while, you may be delighted to learn that your potential for great deals on items you actually want has just increased dramatically.

On eBay, you can find auctions, to be sure, but you’ll also find thousands of eBay store where sellers offer items for a fixed price. Some sellers have a “buy it now” price and an option for you to submit your best offer. Including the best offer option on the listing adds to the cost of the listing for the seller so many sellers do not routinely use it.

If you see a listing that catches your eye but you’re not completely sure you want to buy the item at the listing price, as always, you can “watch” the item while you make up your mind. Alternatively, you can put the item in your virtual shopping cart, which does not commit you to purchase until you pay for it or request an invoice from the seller.

In either case – this is the exciting new feature — without knowing your identity or eBay ID, notice of the fact that someone is watching the item or has put it into their cart may give the seller the opportunity to send a personalized offer to that potential buyer. The offer has to meet certain criteria – for instance, it cannot be too close in price to the original selling price – and the offer will expire generally within 48 hours. The shopper will receive a message from eBay that computes the discount being offered and reads: “Because you showed interest in this item, the seller sent you this private offer. A few other interested buyers also received this offer—it won’t last long. Hurry and take advantage right away!”

Illustration:  This beautiful vintage necklace I am selling has 21 watchers; 9 people to date have received special offers on the piece. Who will buy?

The personalized offer may be enough to turn a window shopper into a very happy buyer without having to haggle over the price.

One more tip:  If you receive a personalized offer and still aren’t ready to commit to a purchase or you don’t act during the period of the offer, you may still be able to obtain the item at the offered price. Contact the buyer and ask if the offer is still available. Very often the seller is happy to extend it.

Jewelry Inspiration

This month, I will keep my post brief, finding inspiration from a recent host of “Saturday Night Live” – the actor Regé-Jean Page, whose role in “Bridgerton” has made him the heartthrob of countless women. 

In the opening monologue, Page delighted us with his presence, and reacquainted the audience with the charming look of a cluster of brooches pinned to a jacket. The brooches appear to be studded with diamonds and pearls – an unexpected and elegant choice.

What a delightful expression of creativity!  I am newly inspired to put together small groupings of my brooches and urge my readers to consider the potential in their own collections. The brooches just might encourage hearts to go all aflutter.

Sentimental Style

It isn’t always, or even often, that garments worn by a woman’s mother or grandmother will fit her as well.

Although my mother and I were almost identical in height, I have a shorter waist than she did. What this means is that her fitted garments would extend too far down my torso, and would not fit correctly. I also have higher figure-eight hips, which further affects the line of garments.  Wearing her satin wedding dress was a non-starter, even when I was at my lowest adult weight.

I very much enjoyed reading an article by Clara Spera, granddaughter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the December 2020-January 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Spera writes that her petite stature has been a blessing in that she is the same size as her grandmother. She describes her delight in “shopping in Bubbie’s closet” when her grandmother was alive, learning “the exact history of the piece—where it was from, when she acquired it, what special events she had worn it to.”

Spera writes: “Now that my grandmother is gone, I am humbled and comforted when I wear her clothes. These items carry more than just a legacy of sartorial elegance; they are a tangible reminder of the woman underneath the judicial robe and of everything she taught me. . . .”

Spera mentions being re-gifted an Italian leather clutch that her grandmother had received in Rome, provided to her with the observation that “Sometimes a small bag will be in order.”

Happily, whether one is the same size as one’s mother or grandmothers becomes irrelevant with regard to accessories. I can and enjoy the handbags I inherited from my mother. I well remember her wearing and enjoying her jewelry. And every time I carry one of her bags or wear a piece of her jewelry, I am filled with loving memories.

Time for Reflection, Creativity and Joy

It is my tradition at the end of every year to post images that provide visual delight in the exquisite work of designers and artists who create beauty.

During this most difficult year of 2020, we have each individually found ways to combat the boredom of isolation and the restlessness due to Covid-restricted activities. Channeling our energy into the creation of beauty is a wonderful way to achieve this.

I am blessed to have friends and acquaintances who have been able to create and to donate masks or meals to assist front line workers. These works of creativity and charity are beautiful indeed.

Clearing out the clutter and finding ways to repurpose items that someone else might find to be more useful or lovely is also a worthwhile use of one’s time.

Learning how to maximize and appreciate what we have in our wardrobes and possessions is another valuable endeavor, as we reflect upon what is truly flattering and what gives us joy.

With that in mind, I am closing for my year-end post this year an eye-catching montage of looks from the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which suggests:  “Put a Bow on It:  Add some flare to your socially distanced holidays with lipstick-hued blouses and bejeweled necklaces.” The combinations of bow blouses with necklaces and surprising uses of earrings and brooches as accents to the blouses makes for delightful and surprisingly creative results.

As the year ends, let us find time for reflection, creativity and always, joy. Wishing all my readers much beauty and a happy, healthy 2021.

The Eyes Have It in the Era of Covid Masks

The September 2020 issue of Vogue stated the new reality succinctly:  “The defining accessory of our era is not, as it turns out, an It bag or a chic new shoe. It’s something far more essential:  the face mask.”

Without further comment, Vogue presented a fashion spread that coordinated face masks with fashions. Here are two examples of the featured looks:

What is also part of the new reality is that the eyes are the focus of the face more than ever. Forget about tooth whitening and flattering lipstick colors: the mouth is not seen. It’s time to focus on the eyes.

Mascara and eye shadow can draw attention to the eyes, but there is something further that doesn’t require makeup.  Nonverbal facial expressions are what will allow one to make a statement. Fashion supermodel, actress and business mogul Tyra Banks introduced the concept of “smizing,” or smiling with one’s eyes, during the run of her reality television series America’s Next Top Model. We can communicate much in the way of kindness, friendship and joy through the smile in our eyes.

The masks themselves present fashion opportunities, to be sure. Find masks in colors and prints that are flattering if you are going the fabric mask route in lieu of medical grade masks in that go-with-everything light blue and/or clear face shields.

Don’t forget jewelry. Earrings, necklaces and brooches can draw attention to the face in a most flattering way. (Tips on jewelry wearing are beyond the scope of this short post.)  However, be mindful of earrings that can caught in the ear loops of masks. Stud earrings may be a good choice in lieu of the large hoops seen in the Vogue fashion spread.

Whatever your fashion preferences, one fashion rule applies to us all right now:  It is essential to wear a mask whenever we are out in public to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Protect yourselves and your loved ones and everyone with whom you come into contact.

Burnt Orange Is Not the New Turquoise

It’s Halloween – the one day of the year when putting orange and black together is a tradition. Orange is not a color that is easy to wear, and charring the citrus, if you will, to produce burnt orange doesn’t make it any easier.

Thus I’m having an “Oh, No!” moment with a bit of fashion advice given in the October 2020 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. On the cover, Oprah “gives a warm welcome to chilly air” in “relaxed yet refined seasonal classics” consisting of “a comfy sweater in rich burnt orange” plus slim pants, tall boots and golden double hoop dangling earrings. She looks great in the hue. The fashion editor opines that burnt orange is “a color that works with all skin tones.”

No, no, no. Burnt orange is a decidedly warm hue, and works beautifully on many skin tones that have warm undertones. Yet there are even exceptions to that, as burnt orange is an assertive intense hue. Someone with very pale warm skin may find the color too strong and overwhelming to wear; a soft “Creamsicle” orange or coral may be much more flattering.

And anyone with cool toned skin is likely to find that burnt orange makes her or him looked washed out, as seen in this example of an item offered by a major retailer. If pink is one of your preferred colors, chances are that orange is not going to be flattering.  As the character Elle Woods proclaimed in Legally Blonde:  “Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”

Pink also won’t work for everyone, of course, although it’s likely to be a great choice for a pale blonde. If you’re looking for a color that truly works on all skin tones, think turquoise. It has the right mix of cool and warm and a medium intensity that works beautifully for just about everyone.

Sad Times for the World of Fashion in Print

If you have followed my various jewelry and style-related columns over the years, you know that I am a devoted reader of fashion magazines. These days there is an overwhelming amount of social media coverage of actual and would-be fashion influencers, to be sure. Yet fashion magazines provide inspiration in showcasing fashion in a permanent, readily accessible archive utilizing the fashion savvy of editors, writers, photographers, and all the many other members of the magazine staff who create something memorable and extraordinary in every issue.

I noticed that some of the magazines went to seasonal issues early this year, as the effect of the coronavirus grew. It was only this month that I became aware that several of my favorite fashion magazines may be or are being shut down entirely.

It has been surprisingly difficult to obtain information about the closures, and I’m still not entirely clear as to whether the closures affect worldwide editions of these publications, but I understand that the venerable Harper’s Bazaar – in print since 1867 – along with Elle magazine and InStyle – three of my favorites – have been affected. I will report further in future posts.

Brooches – A Surprising Bit of Personality for Your Athleisurewear

In these times of Zoom meetings and staying at home, wearing jewelry may seem like more of an afterthought than ever before, especially when the default mode of dressing is athleisurewear. A delicate pendant necklace and stud earrings may be part of one’s regular look, even when the clothing is super casual, but statement jewelry seems out of place.

Let me suggest a way to inject a bit of personality into athleisurewear dressing. As an impressionable young girl, I was influenced by the fashion selections of my slightly older and more world-wise relatives. I distinctly recall that one of my cousins wore a sweater with the most charming addition – a small brooch pinned to the side near her face. I don’t recall the motif of the brooch, but I recall that it fascinated me because it was so unexpectedly, sassy, stylish. A simple addition but one with great visual impact.

Image:  A Trifari ice cream bar lapel pin I’m wearing during these dog days of summer.

Add a pretty poodle or ice cream cone, a fleur de lis or garden fairy, a vibrantly colored piece of fruit, a convertible car, maybe a sprinkling of mismatched starbursts – and take a basic tee shirt or sweater to a pretty, playful or poignant place. And let your brooch inspire smiles.

Clothing Options Decrease Due to Coronavirus

These days, as many of us shelter in place, our wardrobe needs have become limited. Without the opportunity to socialize and to dine out, let alone to work in offices and to get together for celebrations or religious services, there is not much need for an extensive selection of clothes.

Many of us find a uniform of sorts, in which comfort is key. The top or tee shirt and pants or shorts that fit perfectly and feel comfy cannot be beat. The number of pieces in regular rotation between wearing and laundry dwindles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the cumulative effect of decreasing consumer clothing needs is one factor bringing about a change in what retailers will have in store:  “Thanks to a global pandemic on top of a trade war, American shoppers are finding their once-endless array of apparel choices are quickly disappearing. There’s disruption everywhere – from manufacturing and shipping delays to store closings and plummeting consumer demand – and merchants are desperate to avoid accumulating piles of hard-to-sell items.”

We’ll find less merchandise in stores with a shrinking assortment of sizes and styles. And the list of retailers filing bankruptcy seems to grow weekly.

If you are financially able to do so, please support your favorite retailers with your continuing purchases. This is especially critical for the survival of small businesses like specialty boutiques.

If you can no longer find a particular style in your favorite store, or if your favorite store is no more, remember that there are additional small businesses on web sites like eBay that may be able to provide exactly what you are seeking.

Above all, please stay well.