Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion Books for Inspiration, Tips, and Dress-to-Impress Tricks

Influence by Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen; Karl Lagerfeld + Olsen Twins, image from

“Of course I’ll be ready then! I have three hours!”
My boyfriend is truly a great man. Along with my two older brothers and dad, who all, at some point in time, have kindly put up with my gads of jeans, millions of shoes, and purses for every occasion in every imaginable place... all o v e r my house. All have waited an extra five minutes…or 45 pick me up or take me somewhere because “I just can’t find anything to wear! Yes, I really am serious! I don’t have a single thing!”
And besides, sometimes three hours is not as long as you think. You start painting your nails, but first you have to take off the old polish, trim your nails, file your nails, decide what you are wearing and what shoes you are wearing so that the polish matches your outfit…maybe shower first so that the shower doesn’t destroy your new manicure…where was I? Oh! Decide what to wear…

Where do you go for fashion rules, dos and don’ts, trends, and ideas?
Unless I’m alone, we all know that sometimes just standing in front of your closet staring at the clothes on their hangers isn’t exactly inspirational.
Here are just a few of some of my favorite fashion books, all filled with great tips, tricks, quotes, and photos that always get me out the door a little bit faster:

Fashion Illustration by Fashion Designers by Laird Borrelli:
I purchased this book years ago, and I always forget the incredible beauty of its contents until I open it up again. Laird Borrelli compiled fashion illustrations and sketches from tons and tons of brilliant designers. Philip Lim, Christian Lacroiix, Rodarte, Karl Lagerfeld, Badgley Mischka, Wolfgang Joop, Riccardo Tisci…an amazing list of talent that continues on. Flipping through pages of fashion illustrations, I see the carefully articulated designs and details, the deliberately planned buttons and individual stitches; flipping through these pages, I am reminded that fashion is high art—perhaps a more lengthy process than most. Designing a piece of clothing is truly a commitment—from sketch to illustration, fabric to sewing machine, manipulating every fabric until it reaches perfection. Best part? Each illustration is unique. Clothing has always been a means of self-expression, and after studying each sketch, you will undoubtedly appreciate your individual style.

What not to Wear for every occasion by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine:
This book divides each chapter by occasion, and each occasion is further divided into more specific sections—smart, casual, or trendy. For example, are you planning to attend a party in the winter and want to look confident and elegant? Or, do you have to attend a school PTA meeting and want to assure respect from parents and teachers without looking too matronly? Trinny and Susannah lay out the laws, and their humor is not only funny, but blunt and helpful.
Best part? The authors include shopping advice at the end of each chapter, outlining a list of their favorite stores (in low, medium, and high price-ranges).

What you wear can change your life by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine:
This book is even more packed than the last What not to Wear book. It keeps the handy shopping guide and ups the humor. It offers more personal advice—like what colors look best on which skin tones and how you can define your own, individual shape (no, we are not all pears, apples, or other nonsense fruits commonly prescribed). Extra, Extra? Trinny and Susannah have not only provided instructions regarding the wear of clothing, but also include how to store your clothing for better longevity.

INFLUENCE by Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen:
Whether you love the Olsen twins or not, you’ve gotta hand it to ‘em—their book is wholesome and creative. In the introduction, the young ladies discuss their passion for design. Mary-Kate and Ashley use fashion to express themselves and delve deeper into others. They interview the likes of Christian Louboutin, John Galliano, and Diane von Furstenberg. There is a good mix of interviews and photos that really highlight each designer’s dreams, realities, and hopes for future projects. The book offers an exposure to so many unique, inspiring fashion perspectives. What else? The book packs in great art and personal photos, near and dear to the Olsen twins and the designers. You can see fashion changing with the decades and wearable fashion in all sorts of environments.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parsons Reconstruction

Reconstruction at Parsons; photo by Caitlin Donnelly

On Thursday morning and all through the afternoon, there were people lining the street outside 66 5th Avenue. Everyone was peering into the Parsons storefront gallery, trying to get a glimpse of the signature pieces lining the walls—all designs from the Parsons archives and Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, Marc Jacobs himself. Ten teams of students were deconstructing the costumes and creating new, historically based pieces.

The five iconic, inspirational looks from Marc Jacobs/Louis Vuitton along with the five looks from the Parsons costume archive were previously presented to the students. Raw material was provided for the competition—material that would otherwise be destroyed due to its lesser quality or because it was duplicate material.

Initially, the student competitors presented sketches, individual renditions of new, abstract concepts. Fiona Dieffenbacher is the Director of External Projects at Parsons, and Dieffenbacher kindly admitted me into the storefront gallery and further explained the competition and its purpose: “The Nouveau Classical Project works to re-engage and excite everyday people about classical music. Parsons will team with the Nouveau Classical Project for the debut of our students’ designs; a concert combining classical music and the fresh, new fashions made by the design teams today will be held at the Tishman Auditorium in New York on October 2, 2009.”

I squeezed between the busy students, all of whom were intently sewing, ironing, and altering their pieces. Concept teacher Michele Bryant offered guidance to the students and chatted with me as we watched them work. “Today has been quite surprising,” Bryant commented. “Those experienced with deconstruction dive right in. Other students who are very good workers in 2-D were frightened by the 3-D process, but all of the students have been turning out brilliant work.” I gazed around, and although I expected frazzled, stressed out students, everyone calmly and familiarly maneuvered about their dress forms. Some students sat on tabletops for better access to their garments in the crowded workspace. Sitting in such a location, student Anna Choi told me about her menswear piece: “We originally submitted designs for women, but in the end a different approach seemed advantageous. I’m not as familiar with constructing menswear, but luckily our designs were pretty androgynous. By altering fabrics and colors we easily adjusted our initial ideas.”

The students also kept in mind their specific musician assignment—whether they were male and female was important, but also noting their individual instruments was essential. For example, Katherine Leaver and Victoria Choi were assigned a cellist. Recognizing the constraints placed on a cellist—unique movements or the distinct wide-leg, seated position of the musician—they adjusted their costume accordingly.

Another Parsons student, Gabrielle Arrada, worked solo on her dress: “My partner is in the ER,” she said as she busily weaved a needle in and out of her material. “We hand-dyed our material in the bathroom sink, and now I am finishing our look up alone. Things will happen, so I just have to keep working.”

Later Thursday night, all of the students’ pieces were critiqued by a panel of judges, including Harold Koda, the Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of the students were winners though—each of their completed pieces will be worn at the concert at Tishman Auditorium, enhancing the already noteworthy classical music by Samuel Barber, Maurice Ravel, and Thomas Osborne.

Lela Rose: an insider's look at fashion careers

Lela Rose Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear; photo by Caitlin Donnelly

Thanks to Betsy Killough and Lela Rose for making me feel right at home in New York City.

On Tuesday night I made my way uptown to visit the corporate offices of Lela Rose, where Betsy Killough, former Lawrencian and Free-State High School Graduate works as Head of Sales.
The elevator dropped me off at the 13th floor, and as soon as the doors opened I felt right at home. The office of Lela Rose was emanating with those good ol’ hometown, sweet Kansas vibes.
Betsy gave me a tour of the studio, where I checked out the show room, pattern table, sewing station, storage closet, sample collections, wedding collections, inspiration board, and Lela Rose’s workspace.
Then I got to play dress-up! I tried on the new collection—pieces that had just brushed the runways at Bryant Park last Sunday!
The collection is already a hit—some dresses are pre-ordered for the Emmys! Betsy gave me some insight regarding such immediate reception: “Lela’s Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear Collection is our best yet. It is modern and fashion forward. It’s a bit of a daring departure from Lela’s previous designs, yet the pieces are fresh and still remain true to who the Lela Rose customer is—that is me and you, your mother, your sister, your aunts, your girlfriends, your grandmother.” As I looked at the colorful knits, gorgeous linens, loose-fit blazers, and amazing chiffon blouses, I did imagine each of my friends and my own mother wearing the timelessly constructed pieces by Lela Rose.
Betsy explained, “The fit, form and upbeat colors of Lela Rose’s new line offer a pristine start for the new year. Simple adaptations have created a cohesive collection—experimental pleats, unique silhouettes, fun pocket-details, and a twist or shift of shapes offer an understandable sense of individuality that is definitely not boring.”
While Betsy was chatting with me, I recognized the twinkle of passion in her eye. She stands behind the clothing designed by Lela Rose, and she loves what she does. Betsy is humble; she recognizes that most women her age are not running an entire sales gamut for a major fashion firm in New York City: “When I was a sophomore in college I called up Ken Downing, the Fashion Director at Neiman Marcus, and I asked him for an internship. His secretary told me, ‘Mr. Downing doesn’t normally take interns,’ but I was persistent and got a spot. I was young and took chances—I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t Ken Downing give me a job?’ Now I’m in New York working for Lela Rose.”
Betsy gave me brilliant advice: “Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Don’t think too much, just do it.”
As I unzipped the beautiful colorblock linen skirt and pulled off the highlighter gauze tiered tank, I felt a confident fulfillment. I said farewell to the spring collection, and Betsy walked me down the street to the subway. In the night air of the big city, the two of us parted. “See you next time you’re home,” I said to Betsy.
“Yes,” she replied, “I’ll meet you in Lawrence.”

Zero + Maria Cornejo Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Maria Cornejo, Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear; photo by Diane Bondareff, AP photo

Maria Cornejo’s Spring 2010 Collection looks like an urban design structure or a permanent forest—not a piece of clothing that follows any rules or fashion trends. Her pieces can be worn for a lifetime.

Judith Puckett-Rinella is Senior Photo Editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Walking back towards the Times after the show, Puckett-Rinella told me: “Maria’s clothing is modernity without the ridiculousness.” She pays attention to real women, creating clothing in which all women will feel as beautiful as they are in actuality.
Her clothing gives in to the natural form of the body—not attempting to manipulate fabrics against gravity or include high-strung pleats or folds that stretch an unwilling material.
Cornejo’s collection included 41+ looks, separated thematically: Black and White Noise, Wood and Brown Leather, Grass and Green Glide, Water and Ink Wave Jacquard.

The harsh contrast of black against white was reduced by the fluidity of Cornejo’s designs. She incorporated natural fabrics—linen and leather, and used wooden accessories to emphasize a natural, organic look. Nothing looked forced; the fabric wanted to be there.
Cornejo also showcased her new swimwear, making the simplest bandeau tops and twisted-straps effortlessly chic. I was particularly impressed with Cornejo’s wide-range of pieces. She had everything from wood neck cuffs, leather Tookie bags, jumpsuits, waistcoats in stretch uni cotton, linen jackets, crop knee pants, dresses, shawl jackets, washed polyester trousers…

…silk dresses, sleeveless knits, cowl-neck shirts, leather leggings, wrist cuffs, jersey t-shirts, stretch cotton shorts, shoes…

The prints in Cornejo’s collection were sensational images—personal photographs screened onto silk fabric. The image sources are listed in the program notes: the weathered deck of an island beach house, the turbulent wake of a Bosporus ferry boat under a vivid blue sky; spikes of grass or the black static of white noise crawling across airy fabrics.

I cannot explain the natural beauty of Cornejo’s collection. Check out some of my favorite looks on

Slide 31: Kala dress in Drape
Slide 32: Kala Top in silk charmeuse and ochy skirt in drape
Slide 34: ID Goa Dress in Nova Twill
Slide 41: Long Cade dress in Silk waterprint

Fall Fashion Week: designs by Lela Rose premiered at Bryant Park

Lela Rose Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear; Louis Lanzano, AP Photos

If my memory serves me, I don’t recall a single black garment on the runway.

Lela Rose created a comfortable ambience at her Sunday show, utilizing calm and blissful colors to showcase her designs. The palette was well-balanced with an edgy subtlety—not a contradiction, but a brilliant interpretation of wearable bright hues. Even the ever-popular, eye-scorching neons were presented in a classic, fun way. Via the program notes, Rose cites artist Alex Katz and the familiar, saturated colors visible at Venice Beach as inspiration. Grass-green, sea-glass blue, navy, orange-crush, dove grey, magenta, and shell pink truly do reflect the playful serenity of a vibrant, ever-evolving California beach and the trademark, color-splash prints made by Alex Katz.

This spring, look for unexpected color-blocks—not just horizontal color swatches. Also, incorporate metallic without overpowering your outfit; look for designs that draw attention to the center interior of a garment. Purchase patterned skirts and tops, each in individual color-groups; this allows for an easy contrast between the two items that is still compatible regardless of their own busy designs.

Shape and Fabric:
Unique twists and knots, exposed backs, rolled sleeves, layers and tiers, exaggerated hips, and asymmetrical tops dominated the looks of Lela Rose’s Spring 2010 collection. Blazers with rolled-lapels caused an eye-catching, doubling effect—the fabric layers resemble the beautiful roll of ocean waves. Soft pleating on skirts—equipped with pockets and slightly pointed hips—helped to maintain a feminine form. The raked tops, chiffon blouses, and tweed skirts prominent in Rose’s collection are sophisticated yet approachable; for example—a t-shirt is the bright hue of orange-crush, soothed by its cashmere fabric and silk side panels.

Keep your eye out for impeccably designed and structured pieces; however, find pieces with movement. Sheath dresses and open-back dresses can be unexpectedly flattering and sexy (Rose’s ivory ribbon lace sheath dress). Pay attention to details—embroidered belts, rolled necks, and cascading detail took the pieces in Lela Rose’s collection to the next level.

Fall 2009 Boots

over-the-knee boots, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent Lindy

The worst part about summer is giving up my collection of boots. For almost five whole months, some of my favorite shoes are abandoned, tucked away in a suitcase under my bed. I have to keep them there—otherwise, every time I catch sight of them, it breaks my heart. Poor little guys! Sitting, lonely at the back of my closet, waiting and waiting for any inkling of fall weather…
Plus, stuffing each pair with newspaper or shoe-forms to keep their shape intact is such a drag!
Anyway, when it comes down to it, I think boots just make you feel powerful. Sometimes you just gotta stomp!

Most of us have a good pair of boots—one that we’ve really lived in (…says the 22-year old...). My favorite pair of boots have been beat-up, ripped-up, re-soled and back again. I wore them an entire semester in Europe—literally, I never changed my shoes! They went with everything, and they felt like a part of me—besides, they are fabulous!

So never get rid of your tried and true boots. But do remember—there’s always more room in your collection! Read on about a few new boots that should be on every woman’s fall wish-list:

These will be the hottest footwear for anyone who’s in-the-know regarding fashion and trends this season. Last year, the boots were gaining popularity throughout Europe and sneaking into the United States; however, unlike last year’s over-the-knee boots—which were mostly spotted in no-heel versions—now look for the sky-high boots, not only in the length, but also in the heel. Wear your over-the-knee boots with short dresses, tights, leggings, skinny-jeans, or pleated trousers. Materials will vary, but I’m loving all versions suede. To get versatility and longevity out of your over-the-knee boots, look for a more pliable pair. If you can fold, roll or cuff the top of your boots, you can change your entire look.

Boots with laces/boots with tread:
Lace up, black boots always remind me of the Victorian-era. Find updated versions with unique details—like a modern, cone heel. Also, don’t put away your summer versions, equipped with a peep-toe. This fall, showing off your toes—covered by stockings, of course—is fun and sexy. Want another option? Pick up a pair of lace-up boots with treaded soles. Thank god someone finally created a fashion-forward, weatherproof, non-slip, high-heel, cute boot! The sporty-trend from the summer generated an amazing winter shoe alternative!

Foldover Boots:
The newest of the knee-length boots, the foldover boot, has a wide-leg upper-piece that almost looks like a separate attachment. Instead, its well-constructed, inside-out material is completely finished, glossed, or bedazzled. These boots go from casual to ultra-glamorous: From double buckles hugging the calves to jewels on the toes, chunky wooden heels or thin, spiky stilettos. Keep in mind the material as well—a weathered leather tends to feel more comfortable and vintage-y, a PVC material gives off urban-vibes, and a suede feels dressy and sophisticated.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall Shoes

Vintage Salvatore Ferragamo Pumps; photo by Richard Gwin, Lawrence Journal World

An outfit can be instantly transformed, simply by slipping into the right pair of shoes. Read on for some excellent early-fall options that will carry you through late into the season:

1. Chunky Platforms
Platform high-heels are comfortable, walkable, and sturdy. To avoid clunking around with heavy boots, look for a graceful, thick heel with plenty of height. In other words, you don’t want to struggle while strutting around in these babies—your shoes should never require a prerequisite weight-lifting class. We’ve all worn the hideously heavy, clonk-clonky platform shoes from the 90s…just don’t bring those back out! Although it may be a platform shoe, it is not the right platform shoe! Keep in mind the overall shape, the heel-shape (often square), and the material of all potential shoes.

2. “Ice-pick” heels
“Ice-pick,” or tapered high-heels are one of my favorite shoe shapes right now. Their thick, upper heel slowly glides into a sleek and modern skinny point at the base. Also called a “cone heel,” this shoe adds a sophisticated, unexpected twist to any outfit, and its dramatic, tapered curve feels youthful and fun. This shape is a less classic heel-shape, but this fact alone opens doors: either buy your ice-pick heels in fall’s hottest colors (like hot pink, burnt sienna, or warm olive) or choose a safer color for more longevity (like black, brown, or navy).

3. Stilettos
If you are walking around in Old West Lawrence, you may want to leave your four-inch stilettos at home—brick sidewalks can be dangerous in heels!
Nonetheless, stiletto heels have made a massive resurgence in the realm of fashion. The higher, the hotter—if you can walk properly. But please ladies—don’t stick out your tooshes! You’ll look like Peggy Bundy from Married with Children!
Stilettos are quite the sexy shoe-choice. If you want to be super-chic find one with a metallic or metal heel. The stiletto heel, named after a dagger, elongates and slims the legs.

4. Square-toe
Square-toe heels are hit or miss. A good pair is hard to come-by, so make sure your choice is comfortable and fashionable. The new square-toe high-heel has a shorter, abbreviated square-toe—not anything too long or too slender down in the toe-width, but a quick, blunt shape. For some reason, the new square-toe heel reminds me of the trunk of a Ford Focus—just a short little thing with plenty of get-go.

5. Hybrid
With so many shoes in the sea, there are bound to be exceptional, unusual combination trends. Don’t shy away from a pair of shoes just because it doesn’t fall distinctly in one category or another! For example, DSquared2 has an amazing square-toe stiletto-heel. And chunky platforms don’t have to have a super high-heel. Half-inch platforms are great option for more casual events, days at the office, or even on the weekend, paired with strait-leg jeans and a blazer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Buy it Now! Pre-Fall Hot-List

photo by Richard Gwin, Lawrence Journal World

Fashions come and go, and it is always most cost-efficient to purchase timeless items; however—timeless or trendy—sometimes you just have to buy it now! So what’s on the hot list today? Try out these hot new trends—and don’t worry, your wallet can behave later.

Quilted Clutch:
Quilted clothing has been popping up everywhere. The quilted-texture adds a unique dynamic to any outfit—so why not find the perfect, quilted purse? But listen up ladies: Put away your oversized, haul-it-all purses and pick out a smaller purse with a hands-free, across-the-body strap. Bonus points for all purses with chain straps!

Black Tights:
This fall, wear black stockings with everything! Tights make dresses, skirts, and shorts look a little bit dressy, a little bit edgy, and a whole lot warmer! Pick up some simple, black-opaque stockings and pair them with your favorite pair of cut-offs or boy-shorts. Stars like Irina Kulikova and Milla Jovovich have been spotted in this look. For your upper-half, layer sweaters, sweatshirts, and scarves, and experiment with different lengths and materials. For example, if your sweater is long and thin, throw on a thick, warm, cropped jean-jacket.

Wanna wear some neon? Take the advice of designer Michael Kors to heart: “Always counterbalance. If you’re going to buy something in neon, make the shape simple and classic.” Check out MK’s Fall 2009 collection for the perfect example of a classic, bright-tangerine or neon pink dress that will never go out of style. Excuse me, but did you say, “A neon pink dress that will never go out of style?” Yes, trends can be timeless if you choose the right design.

Serpents are everywhere! Look for slithering snakes on everything from wallpaper and dinnerware to sexy high-heels, clutches, and bangles. Need to be charmed first? Check out Jonathan Adler’s Eve Hand, a beautiful art-commentary that returns to the Garden of Eden. Another jewelry tip: be in high-style—wear your rings on the upper part of your fingers!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fall Pants--What's in Style

Stella McCartney Fall 2009 wool pleated pants; photo from the Fashion Spot

Pleated Pants:

Wearing summer dresses and skirts is fun alright, but who’s ready for some pants already?
For your August workdays, last summer barbeques, and evenings out, slip into some trousers!

Harem pants were re-introduced last spring and haven’t gone away. You have to be brave to try this style! Their baggy shape comes from loosely draped, often pleated material around the hips and crotch; however, they are tapered at the bottom hem, providing a drastic, interesting change in fit. Harem pants are frequently considered a hybrid between a long, loose skirt and a skinny jean.

Carrot Pants:
Carrot pants are wider at the waist and tapered at the ankle. My favorite pairs are a bit shorter and cropped at the hemline. Also, look for a pair with a high, structured waist or extra fabric for cinching. This look really suits the name—a cinched waist with fabric bunching out resembles the leaves on top of a carrot, and its wider waist and tapered ankles take the shape of the actual taproot itself. Vegetables aside, carrot pants are a most sophisticated form of pleated pants.

Pleated Pants:
Basic pleated pants are the most dangerous of all—finding the right fit and shape is essential. If this goes awry, you will undoubtedly have on ‘mom jeans’ that give you the dreaded ‘granny fanny.’ So—look for a pleated pant that features either a wide and flowy leg or a more fitted, cigarette leg (the fitted pleated pant is essentially a form of carrot pants). Make sure your pleated pants are definitely high-waist or definitely right at the waist as well. Pleated shorts are easy to find, too, and fun to dress up in the summertime or pair with tights in the fall.


1. Tight-fitted tops: Because pleats add extra bulk to your waist-line, be sure to wear a fitted top that will show off your waistline. If this looks to severe, wear a flowing scarf or bow around your neck to make the look more feminine.

2. Heels: Heels provide extra height, lengthening your legs. Pleats often make your legs look larger and shorter. Booty-heels are a great option. Open-toed booties are great for hot August days, and a closed-toed, leather or suede booty will look fabulous for the fall. Wear flats or tennis-shoes (like Converse, for example) for a more fun, casual look.

3. Belts: A skinny belt looks very sophisticated and elegant with pleated pants. Don’t choose an overly bulky belt—this will look too masculine against the delicate pleats. Another option? Slip a long ribbon through the belt-loops and tie the ends into a oversized bow.

4. Material: If you are wearing harem pants, mind the material. A jersey or cotton material will look more casual and can be paired with flats for day-time wear. If you want to dress up your harem pants, heels really make a statement.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brooches and Bows

Chesterfield Jacket and Vintage Poodle Brooch; photo by Richard Gwin, Lawrence Journal World

By mixing classic wardrobe pieces with fun accessories, you won’t get bored waiting around for fall! Add feminine accents and trendy touches to your daily-wear using items you already own. Play up your favorite fashion trends for a style-savvy daytime look.

Each time I discover a new jacket shape for Fall 2009, I feel compelled to report. Boyfriend blazers, military jackets, tuxedo coats—all of these overcoats are versatile and fun.
The Chesterfield Jacket is a classic shape (not to be confused with a Chesterfield Coat, which is typically full length). The jacket version has perfectly fitted arms without rolling up the sleeves, and its longer length is surprisingly comfortable, not at all bulky. Look for the trademark velvet collar, which can be single- or double-breasted. Also, Chesterfield Jackets are made in many different fabrics, but are normally tweed; because of the all-occasion nature of such a fabric, a Chesterfield Jacket can be worn with jeans, trousers, or a dress.

Although brooches constantly pop up as spring and fall fashion trends, I continually have to remind myself how gorgeous and transformative they can be. The best part about brooches? They are an instant look into the personality of a stranger. Brooches can reveal hobbies or start great conversations, all about their origins (‘is that an heirloom brooch or a thrifted brooch?’). Plus, brooches can be purchased relatively inexpensively. Use your brooch as an accent piece on your jacket collar, to pin a dress that is one size too big, as a hairclip, or to secure a scarf. Stick them on handbags or on the hem of a skirt, too.

Oversized bows have been sneaking their way onto the Fall runway—this time a bit less flamboyantly. Lanvin’s bowties were an excellent Menswear rendition, as well as the ‘smaller’ bows on some of Chanel’s blazer-collars. Lela Rose discreetly included oversized bows on designs, utilizing only one pattern and fabric for both the dress and the bow. Incorporate bows into your wardrobe to add a more feminine touch. Trousers can be belted with a satin ribbon, tying the ends into a sweet little bow. Scarves can be twisted into bow-like shapes and worn around the neck or even on your purse-strap. Maybe even use a brooch to secure a smaller bow onto the collar of your jacket!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tie-Dye: Not just for Hippies

photo by Mike Yoder, Lawrence Journal World

In my youth, I remember the home-made process of wearable art: tie-dye. After filling basins with dye I would dip my rubber-banded, twisted, looped-up t-shirts, socks, purses, headbands--you name it--into the colorful solutions, and wait impatiently for them to dry...then be washed...then dry again! Still, my creations never looked as profession as I hoped (but they never looked manufactured either...which I did not want).
Now, somehow wearing tie-dye feels unprofessional and far too casual. And, I suppose the bold combination of colors is a tad overwhelming for my taste. When I began to see tie-dye popping up on the runways--and in turn, on the shelves--I was skeptical; however, after seeing the cool color combinations of the Michael Kors Resort 09 Collection, I was convinced: tie-dye can be chic.

Just shop this trend with caution. Follow these guidelines to pick out your perfect tie-dye fashion item:

-Embrace more feminine shapes that incorporate tie-dye. Flowing, ethereal fabrics provide easy movement and draw attention gradually down the length of your body, elongating your frame.

-Look for simply dyed pieces--not every color in the rainbow. Dip-dyed items in variations of one color look classy (for example, a beige, pink or coral dress that is brightest at the hemline and fades into more subtle colors).

-Silk pieces dyed in simple, clean colors provide sharp lines, and the sheen of the fabric beautifully highlights each color variant.

-Don't buy tie-dyed clothing with patches or graphics if you are going for a dressed-up look.

-Look for an edgier tie-dye that is not so much 60's love-and-peace but more...boho chic.

-Pair your tie-dyed pieces with simple clothing. Too many patterns thrown together will give you a busy, hectic look--the opposite of serene and natural. Wear a dyed top with trousers or jeans and gladiator sandals. Also, don't wear more than one tie-dyed piece at once (unless they are very subtle and spread apart). Wear simple jewelry and accessories that don't distract from the fun, tie-dye pattern in your outfit.

-Do try the new tie-dyed jeans look, but again, keep the other pieces plain. A monochrome grey or white tank top, bangles, and heels would be perfect for a night out.

-Check out American Apparel's tie-dye collection. Leggings and t-shirt dresses have all been dyed for a super-hip look.

Roberto Cavalli has a brilliant Keywest Silk Tie-dye Caftan, Kimichi Blue makes a Tie-Dye Clutch with natural colors--the perfect envelope clutch,
and Brian Atwood's Ontario Tie-Dyed Boots are fabulous (their slouched look physically blends matching the aesthetic of blended colors in the fabric),

The tie-dye trend is flattering and young in subtle colors. For more ideas, check out Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Christian Lacrox, and Moshino.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fall Sneak-Peak

photo by Mike Yoder, Lawrence Journal World

The last week of July leaves me itching to discuss the trend forecast for Fall 2009.
With so many end-of-summer sales, it is important to be choosy when making a purchase, regardless how cheap.
Incorporating the upcoming season's trends into current, last-days-of-summer outfits helps transition your wardrobe into a closet full of ready-to-wear items.

Houndstooth-pattern fabrics often feel too heavy and wintry to don during hot summer days; however, by including this classic pattern/texture in your wardrobe via accessories, such as ballet flats, heels and clutches, you can let loose a bit of fall fashion while still acknowledging the calendar (which reads July!). Later, incorporate houndstooth into daily wear--such as peacoats or trousers.

Edgy 80s--
Metal spikes, triangular grommets, chains, black leather, and all-over zippers are not just for punk-rockers. Pair your edgy 80s accessories with flowy, light-colored summer dresses for the ultimate juxtapostion. These items will coordinate easily with fall's ripped-up denim, strong-shouldered jackets, and sequined daily-wear.

Envelope Clutch--
Pick up a brilliant accessory, perfect year-round. The easy-open, single-flap, simply-designed envelope purse is a great evening piece. I know it sounds nuts, but pick a purse that you can picture using in a different time and place. If you can imagine carrying your new envelope purse on a snowy, wintry evening, not just the current, muggy summer nights, then you have chosen a great, versatile accessory.

As difficult as it may be even thinking about wearing suede when the temperature is pushing 100 degrees...
Suede adds texture and definition to your look. Suede purses and headbands can be worn year-round and won't affect your body temperature. Suede peep-toe heels and tassles on jackets or driving gloves give off the attitude of a worldly aviator. Eventually, do look for a short short suede mini-dress that will pair brilliantly with an oversized jacket on chilly Autumn evenings.

Still not enough? Keep your eye out for...

Neon pink dress--
Fall's hottest color is hot pink. If you're a "pink's not really my color" kind of girl...buck up! An eye-scorching, neon pink, body-con dress will be your new go-to party dress. Look for a hot pink dress that is wearable now. When Fall truly rolls around you can rock this awesome look with ripped tights and a short leather jacket. (Also, I think a pair of 1/2" houndstooth heels or an extravagant houndstooth manicure/pedicure would be magnificient against a neon pink color palette!)

Big Shoulders--
Start looking now for your ultimate go-to Fall jacket. If you thought shoulder-pads were excessive, think again! Look for a jacket with super-size, defined, strong shoulders and unique details--out-of-place zippers, military chains, and studs. My fall dream jacket (well, one of them...) is definitely includes an oversized shoulder and a peplum waist!

Accordian Pleats--
Dresses are one of the easiest all-season pieces--throw on a jacket or scarf, tights, and heels and you are suited for multiple occasions. The accordian pleat is a fun torso-detail that draws the eye back and forth across your outfit. This pleat grabs attention without grabbing too much attention.

Blanket Coats--
Ok, maybe I'm pushing it a bit...but seriously! You will thank yourself for dragging that hot and heavy thing home early. Blanket coats are easy to find at vintage shops and second-hand stores. Look for an oversized blanket coat with deep pockets, muted patterns (usually a geometric pattern in lighter and darker shades), and fun fabric layers or folds.

Fall Winter 2009 2010 Couture

photo by Richard Gwin, Lawrence Journal World

Couture fashion for Fall-Winter 2009/10 premiered in Paris July 6, 2009. Members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture make customized clothing for private clients, utilizing the most decadent of materials. Also, members are required to have a workshop in Paris and hold a runway presentation for the people twice per year, comprised of both daywear and evening wear.
Yes, it's true: fashion does have rules.

This summer's shows were diverse--ranging from established designers, such as Christian Lacroix and Givenchy, to new, young talent, like that of Alexis Mabille.
Read below for my own reviews of a few designers (these Haute Couture members can undoubtedly be considered...grandfathered in):

Karl Lagerfeld produced impecible two-piece dress-suits, all paired with lace tights, gloves, and, sometimes, even lace bowler hats. Talk about a suit for your lifetime wardrobe! Blouses and dresses had the perfect amount of detail--each one can be imagined in a particular, appropriate environment. Cocktail party? Day at the office? Stroll downtown? Dinner at the Eiffel Tower? Lagerfeld has just the outfit for you!
Admittedly, I liked his more conservative outfits over his few bold, bright pieces. Perhaps pieces of couture already embody so much elegance and their perfection already demands for attention--you don't need to shout it, you know?
Lagerfeld's bead-work, more clustered at one end and more dispersed at the other, gave off a unique color-shifting effect. Most of his pieces had a train attached; either a long, chiffon pice trailed behind each model, or a tail-coat or fixed-fabric attachment unified his collection. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of his fireworks-like pattern that prevailed on so many of his pieces. Still, his finale was amazing--a duo decked out in all white.
My favorite? Grey, roll-neck shift dress with pockets at the sides
Get the look: Pair a party-dress (preferably one in a finer fabric, such as satin or chiffon) with a long, kaftan-like overcoat to achieve a train-like, attention grabbing look.

Armani Prive:

Armani is time and time again my favorite couture designer. I've previously swooned over his Spring 2008 Haute Couture collection (reminiscent of art-deco details and structures); however, Armani's 2009 collection was also impressive. Most of his pieces were a shimmery monochrome and softly structured. Exquisite details, beadwork, cut-outs, and lace did Couture proud. Still, haute couture or no, Armani made one thing crystal-clear: this fall, it's all about the pants ladies.
Other important details? Suit-jackets with structured shoulders, lace t-shirts peeking out of skirtsuits, and a distinct nod to sportswear--dressy hoodies incorporated into eveningwear and polos with embroidery. Armani also incorporated dressy jumpsuits (PANTsuits) that were a combination of nude, mesh, and sparkle. Also, one particular top caught my eye--a simple t-shirt that looked to be screened with a photo of barely-there flowers. The only color palette that I didn't like was his blue-black combination for several evening gowns, but they did feature brilliant cut-outs and showed some skin (a classy way to interpret the midriff trend?)!
My absolute favorite? Armani's opening pantsuit--fitted, pleated pants and a matching blazer with oversize front-buttons, pagoda shoulders, and a beautiful bow at the collarbone. Gorgeous. Seriously.
Get the look: Find the perfect pantsuit in a riche material. Look for strong shoulders, pleated pants, and one-of-a-kind details that remind you of Armani's perfect bows and buttons.

Christian Dior
Bright, vivid colors describe Dior's most recent couture collection, designed by John Galliano. Lemon-limes, yellows, and magentas were all over--but I love love his orangey-apricot. I couldn't stop looking at two pieces--a dress and a bubble skirt, both designed in this color. Galliano also incorporated soft, leather gloves in both brown and black hues. And, although most of the designers incorporated animal-print (tiger, zebra, leopard) into their couture collection, the cheetah-print in Dior's collection was just not-so. The gloves seemed so comfortable, sophisticated, wise, and reassuring next to the bold, brazen youthful colors. Structurally, his pieces emphasized the hips--jackets were wasp-waisted, skirts were volumized with padded-hip coats and bubble skirts. I do like a fitted blazer, especially with a peplum waist. He also included corset tops, so cinched that the oversized skirts looked more volumunous than I thought possible!
My favorite? Galliano's apricot dress!
Get the look: Wear a bubble skirt or dress in wild colors. If you're not the flamboyant type, choose a simple color and let the details of the dress speak for themselves. Top it with a blazer that grabs a little attention.

Jean Paul Gaultier:
Gaultier's fall couture collection surely has something for everyone. It was an eclectic mix of design concepts--from flapper dresses and fur coats to...powder blue alligator-skin overalls?
At any rate, Gautier did stress some great take-home points: velvet tuxedo coats, above-the-knee boots, leather overcoats, and oversized furs. Luxury fabrics were mixed to emphasize texture. Flowy, ethereal, floor-length dresses were absolute elegant drama. Gaultier's color palette was mostly browns and blacks with a splash of color--like a pale grey-ish purple. Stand-out models tended to be Marylin Monroe-esque, equipped with curves and gorgeous bobbed hair that carried off Gaultier's best, classic looks.
I just don't know what to think about Gaultier's gladiator-like corsets--tops that resemble the bumpy back of a dinosaur or an absurd wrestling costume!
My favorite? Super-short gold dress, shimmery ivory tights, oversized rust-colored fur, and a bob with mermaid-waves.
Get the look: Tone down the bulky leather by incorporating such fabric in your skirt or boots. Get a mixed-texture look by incorporating color-blocks comprised of diverse colors and fabrics. With an outfit as wild as this, try to unify your look with shoes or accessories that otherwise might seem too matchy-matchy.

Destination Dressing

photo by Mike Yoder, Lawrence Journal World

Whether you are taking one last vacation before summer's end or just bumming around town, these destination-inspired outfits will give you fresh ideas for the dwindling days of summer.

Beach/Clinton Lake:
Swimming or hanging at the beach is a great way to enjoy nature. Feel at home next to the water by incorporating natural colors and fabrics into your daily wear--leather, straw, cotton, and cool blue colors. Then pass the tides laying out on a straw beach mat.
Packing List:
Bold sundress
straw-accessories--beach bag, fedora, floppy hat, basket purse, espadrilles, and aforementioned beach mat
Gold Shimmery Eyeshadow
Gold bangles, earrings, and necklaces
Coral-inspired prints or colors
leather gladiators

Party/Summer Wedding:
Ladies, save the LBD for November, December, and February--pick a bright, monochrome dress for a chic summer look. For a fabric tip--silk chiffon is a great, lightweight summer fabric that won't cling when the heat rolls in.
Packing List:
monochrome dress
peep-toe pumps--more delicate than chunky
earrings--eye-catching, contrasting colors (such as jade earrings paired with a purple chiffon dress)
bracelets or bangles--match these to your clutch or heels for just the right hint of coordination

Big City/Night on the Town:
Sight-seeing and cocktail-drinking are a tricky fashion combination; however, with the right shapes and combos, you'll soon be a tourist and worthy task-master!
Packing List:
large purse
comfortable walking sandals
anorak--bright and colorful, please!
racer-back dress--this silhouette is sexy, and can easily be dressed up after a day of meandering
accessories--metallic combinations for an urban feel

Small Town/Back Yard BBQ:
It's always the worst to be super-overdressed at an outdoor event. You can't sit on anything because you are likely to get bugs/ketchup/baby spit/mud on your fancy rear-end, and your stilettos always sink into the mud. Besides, you look prissy! So, save your 4-inch heels for the city sidewalks, and pack comfy, classic pieces.
Pacing List:
color palette--classic country: blue and white
short sleeve cardigan
tortoise sunglasses
simple dress--a cotton fabric is simple and cool (plus, if you find one with an elastic bodice--wear it as a skirt, too!)
flats, espadrilles, or wedges--for optimum, anti-grass-sinking
simple jewels--hoop earrings or long necklace

Fall fashion is just around the corner, but don't worry ladies--if you still need a few more ideas to get through the summer-fashion blues, try out...
A funky, clustered necklace--such a bold piece can transform your outfit, and the pattern takes a new spin on statement necklaces.
A chic, straw fedora--tie a bright bow--or one with stripes, polka-dots, or other patterns--for an eye-catching, unique look.
Update a classic look--try going all grey, wearing grey jeans or slacks and a grey chiffon top--but accessorize with the clustered necklace or fedora, and--voila!--classic outfit turns modern chic.

You Rock My World

Michael Jackson 1984 Grammy Awards, AP Photo

Michael Jackson left an enormous impact on the performance art and fashion industries. Designers not only mourn the loss of Jackson, but they also recognize the loss of a style-icon. In 1982, Thriller sold 26 million copies and anchored his spot in the fashion community. To celebrate the life of Jackson, incorporate his lifetime full of style into your own wardrobe.

Early 70s: Jackson took over the world of pop music, sporting wide-leg, bell-bottom pants and fringed shirts.
Wear paisley-patterned shirts, platform heels, and suede vests to emulate his style.

Sleek, Sophisticate: Jackson wore pegged pants, blazers, and bright-white socks. This look of Jackson's is a definite classic--you can never go wrong when combining black and white clothing. To achieve Jackson's style from this era, simply wear a black tux or suit, white collared shirt, black dress shoes, and a hat.

Thriller: Jackson's style in the 80s was biker. Leather jackets, black and red studs, and sequined gloves. Fitted biker jackets and 80s inspired studs are in style now, so utilize such in your fashion homage to Jackson. His iconic red-leather jacket, made by costume designer Deborah Landis, stands alone; its repetitive zippers and detailed shoulders call attention to Michael Jackson's individuality--he didn't want to fit in, he wanted to stand out.

Military Inspired: At the 1984 Grammy's, Jackson won 8 awards for Thriller. His bedazzaled navy military uniform with gold accents was a brilliant fashion interpretation. This military-style jacket is all over the runways. Look for a jacket with oversize, dramatic shoulders for a look that embodies Jackson. Throw on aviators (and a white rhinestone glove) and you'll be set. Or, if that in itself seems like too much, armbands were onbe of his favorite accessories.

Other popular looks:
Jackson's shiny, black tuxedo for Billie Jean is elegant but modern.
Also, in 1991, Jackson escorted Madonna to the Oscars, and the combination of her luscious, oversize white fur and white gown alongside Jackson's own white jacket and sequinced black pants made an unforgetable duo.
Jackson's daily wear is equally inspiring--black satin pants, a black fedora, and an oversize red jacket would make a fabulous night-time ensembleJa.
1987 Bad tour, where Jackson donned biker-cop shirts, badges, and chains.
His custom-made court-room suits--never in a dull black or blue, but rather comprised of bright fabrics, perfectly tailored, complete with a vest.
Lastly, tight-fitting parachute pants and Jerry curls finish his looks.

For current designs that embody the fashion spirit of Michael Jackson, check out Balmain's Autumn/Winter 2009 Ready-to-Wear Collection (Paris Fashion Week).

Red, White and Blue

photo by Kevin Anderson, Lawrence Journal World

To me, the 4th of July has always meant homemade ice cream, bar-be-que and beer, corn on the cob, family and friends, swimming at the lake, and sparklers (I'm a total sissy when it comes to lighting off fireworks).
The 4th of July is just around the corner, and this year, show your pride for the good ol' U.S. of A. in one more way--with the hottest patriotic fashions.
Stars and Stripes are the new American Chic.
Clad in Red, White, and Blue, you're sure to contend with all the Yankee Doodle Dandies, from sea to shining sea.

Maritime Madams:
The color palate of the American flag is already pre-approved; still, feel free to get creative and find a unique look--after all, it is Independence Day! These fashions can easily be sublte outfits or taken to the next level with accessories, hats, and shoes. For example, if you feel like a flag in red, white, and blue, just pair your favorite pair of blue jeans with a white top. But, if you do want to go all out, add a red belt, red and gold bangles, blue gingham espadrilles, a basket purse with a fun scarf attached, and a white sun-hat (with a red/white/blue ribbon, of course!).

Here are some more excellent Americana items (with a Nautical hint) to get you going:
Navy and white stripes
Yellow accents
Sailor Pants
Wide leg trousers
Broad-rimmed sunhats--red, white, or blue will do (accent with a ribbon in one of the other colors)
Canvas Espadrilles
Gilt accessories
Sailor Collars
Matelot buttons
Retro bathing suits
Yaht/Dinghy prints
White pearls
White sunglasses
Gold braids/tassles
Red lipstick
Flag broaches
Bold flag stripes
Star-studded bracelets, earrings, belts, and bags
Beach Pajamas
Straw Hats

For ideas from designers--check out a few of my favorites that tout American fashion with pride:
Hilary & Co for its fun, nautical looks.
D&G (Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's younger, "cheaper" line) features great tunics, jumpers, and beach pajamas with hints of red, white, and blue.
Antoni & Alison has great little details, like monogrammed leotards and sailor collars.
Brooks Brothers provides excellent menswear (and has a great straw hat!).
Coach, specifically for their Star-Studded Red, White, and Blue Bracelets.
Chanel is always a Parisian designer that provides proper American style--my favorite comes from their Spring 2008 show: a tweed jacket with rope-like gold-plaited chains and fringed seams and their fabulous navy crepe de chine pants with beatuifully ethereal stars.
Tommy Hilfiger (obviously) for his everything American style.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mod Fashion

advertisement for Mary Quant Cosmetics,

Shopping in June is often tricky. All of the trends for fall have been predicted and premiered on the runways, magazines are pushing suede heels and warm sweaters. Summer months are a great time to explore fashion rebirths--especially looks that will always be hip.
Mod in the 1960s was a lifestyle--culture, art, fashion. Yves Saint Laurent's trapeze dress, Mary Quant's miniskirts (sold on King's Road in Chelsea), Andre Courreges' designs, and Twiggy's iconic androgynous locks.

Mod Closet for Her:
Mini skirts (a-line is common)
boxy cardigans
trapeze jackets
bright colors, dark trim
cigarette pants
shift dresses
black and white stripes
comfortable shapes
baby doll dresses
Zooey Deschanel (she is seen in mod style all the time, but her stewardess uniform from Almost Famous and her style on stage in her band, She & Him, are good examples)

Mod make-up styles for women were very simple. Perhaps just foundation, pale pink lips, and fake eyelashes.
Also, when choosing a trapeze jacket, be wary:
Trapeze jackets add great shape and contrast to a stick-straight dress or pair of cigarette jeans. Make sure your trapeze jacket is fitted around the shoulders--it will provide a sharp contrast from the waistline, which is boxy and short. Also, pick an undershirt that is tight-fitting and long. Your waist should be accentuated by the full, cropped jacket circling around.
Charlotte Ronson New York (Spring 2009) has a collection full of easy, short dresses that hint at mod. Play up looks for an ultimate mod look, or wear them with un-traditional accessories for a modern take. Check out tweeds from Chanel, Alice + Olivia's Tunic Dress, and Eley Kishimoto's super-mod designs. Also, Kate Spade Fall 2009 features silhouettes straight from the 60s, cropped coats, and bowler hats.

Mod Closet for Him:
slim-cut shirts
3-button suits
fitted trousers
Silk pocket squares
dress shoes
vintage knit ties
skinny black ties
messenger bags
quality socks
dressing up
bright colors
Basket-weave shoes

Ben Sherman and Fred Perry make accessible, affordable mod clothing. Ben Sherman's classic shirt details are perfect--center pleat down the back, button-down collar, and reverse collar button, finished with modern details like exposed stitching, additional pockets, or unique patterns.
Also, a huge mod trend for men was the concept of tailoring--customized suits, perfectly fitted dress shirts. Vintage items in smaller, slim-fit designs are readily available at thrift stores and bazaars.

Over-the-top Mod? Mopeds were a huge accessory for the mod crowd. Zip around town in a Vespa or Lambretta (and keep your clothes protected while you're at it).

Summer in Space

photo by Caitlin Donnelly, June 2009

The West 18th Street Fashion Show took place on Saturday, June 5. In order for designers to partake in the show, applicants were required to submit material; the chosen designs were premiered on an outdoor stage located on 18th Street, between Baltimore Street and Wyandotte Street. As I approached the block, hundreds of spectators greeted me. Ushers dressed in all white clothing and pink headbands were busy answering questions and checking the tickets required for the seated VIP section. I nestled myself alongside the roped-off area somewhere near the middle and anxiously waited for the show to begin.

The fashionable 'guide' took the stage a few minutes after 8--at dusk. Admittedly, I had trouble concentrating on the guide's introductory explanation and welcome because I was so distracted by her super-sporty, neon patterned, lace-up heels! (I have been eye-ing a similar pair of pumps designed by Diesel.)

An onslaught of space-age fashion kept the catwalk lively. Models adorned with head-gear-like jewelry, texture-rich jumpsuits, and green body paint were nothing out of the ordinary.

Some of my favorite collections:

Shannon Bailey:
Bailey's designs are feminine and chic, and her tailoring is flattering. She incorporates bold, classic colors--like a cheery yellow with a fresh blue denim, and her color choices are modernized with splashes of metallic. Some of her pieces have a nautical feel. For example, one of my favorites from Bailey was a white and blue patterned dress adorned with an oversized silver bow on one side between the neck and shoulder. The contrasting textures incorporated into her collection, along with the range of dress shapes, also ranked Bailey's clothing up with my favorites.

Julie Potraz and Rebecca Taylor:
This collection was a refreshing interpretation of accessible, urban, modern clothing. Looks included tailored, textured mini-skirts paired with equally textured tops. Geometric patterns were incorporated into the collection (for example, one skirt had blocks of metallic gold and silver). Tulle dresses in a soft lavender colors intermingled with more sculptured, form-fitting apparel. My favorite piece? A gold short-suit with 3 simple buttons down the center. These designs acknowledge the future but don't close the door on right now--the designers created practical shapes and let their color choice, pattern, and attention to detail slowly ease the audience into a temporary comfort zone that prepares them for fashion to come.

Jessy Bergman:
Bergman's featured collection emphasized shape. The designer effortlessly incorporated difficult metallic sheen and interesting texture into many pieces. Sculptural tops and skirts had uniquely placed ruffles and gathers. The clothes had a terrifc balance--volumunous collars matched full hems. And, although I am nervous to take on the recent bare-midriff trend, one model wore a piece stomach-revealing ensemble by Bergman that was sexy, confident, and fun.

Other favorites:
Sara Emami--
Emami's designs emphasized the clothing as a collection. Pleated skirts had volume without being too bulky. Emami's color palette was fresh and her silhouettes crisp.

Joscelyn Himes--
Short metallic dresses were surprisingly sweet. The reflective, edgy colors were transformed by the soft fabrics and beautiful pleats.
A one-shouldered dress was balanced by the volume of gathers on the opposite side.

Their fitted, rainbow body-con dress did it all for me. The technicolor was divine.

For more information regarding this show, links to designer profiles, photos, and more, visit

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Out with the old (sort of)

distressed denim by Diesel, 2009

If you are trying to stretch your summer wardrobe, keep up on new trend ideas, and save a few bucks, turning your old clothing into something new, wearable, and stylish is essential. Read on for a few ideas that make styling your old wardrobe more fun than wearing a brand new outfit!

Sporty Trend:
If you have a collection of old sport t-shirts from years past, break them out! I know my mother has saved everything--I mean everything--from my youth and even my older brothers' youth. Although I have previously complained about her pack-rat like habits, now I am thankful. I have soccer t-shirts, football jerseys, wind pants, and hoodies in all sizes and colors--enough to dress an entire little-league team! If you don't have any old t-shirts, sweatshirts, or jerseys available, such items are easy to find and cheap to purchase at thrift stores and garage sales. Look in the classifieds for yard sales advertising kids' clothes if you want to find a smaller, youth size for a fitted look. If the t-shirt has a shape you like, leave it alone; if not, cut your t-shirt into a racer-back tank top. Snip the sleeves off your hooded sweatshirt, and turn it inside out for a worn-out, comfortable, textured look. Windbreakers can also be converted into sleeveless vests, and wind-pants can be cut into pedal-pushers or short-shorts.
To style your sports-wear is a different act entirely. Contrast your casual, old sport tops and bottoms with more expensive, dressy materials. For example, wear a racer-back t-shirt with pleated or ruffly skirts, striped tube-socks, and high heels. Wear wind-pant shorts with a sheer top, metallic blouse, or sequined blouse.
Watch out though, this home-made sporty look is more appropriate for the under-30 crowd.
Above 30? Achieve a sporty look by wearing low-key cotton polo dresses, striped tank tops, and bright colored pumps.

Distressed Denim:
I have previously written about distressed denim and the pros and cons of this trend. I think distressed denim can be a fun look when it is dressed up with high-heels and blouses or paired with metallic and black for a rocker look.
Basically, why buy distressed jeans? Most people have an old pair of worn-out blue-jeans that are sitting in the back of their closet. Even if you work to distress your jeans and hate the final outcome, no biggie--they were just sitting there anyway! So, get creative with your old jeans!
1. Use heavy-duty sand paper to rub the thighs and knees for a worn-out, faded look.
2. Bunch, twist, and rubber-band your jeans in areas you want to lighten or pattern. Pour bleach on the areas until you have the color you like best.
3. Cut slits or holes with scissors. Pull out the tightly woven fabric to create a stringy fringe.
4. Be creative--paint splotches, charcoal stains, patches, gold spray-paint--whatever. Personalize your jeans.

Combination Jewelry:
I recently read about a fabulous necklace idea and have not been able to stop trying it out! If you are getting sick of your jewelry or simply want to mix up your look, try pinning together two separate necklaces with a broach. If you find the right combination, your old necklaces truly look like an entirely new piece.

Summer Nights--Black turned Bright:
If you are like me, you own more than one black dress. I always feel so somber wearing black during warm, summer days; however, black dresses are easily brightened, making the color completely appropriate for summertime. For example, brighten a short-sleeve black dress by replacing it's built-in black sash with your own, bright scarf or bold belt. Also accessorize with colorful bangles, long necklaces, a stand-out neon clutch, and eye-catching flats or pumps. Instantly your black dress is transformed into the perfect summer canvas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Nude

Hermes, 2009

Nude is this summer's hottest neutral. After wearing shades of black and grey all winter, this natural hue is refreshing. Just as a classic timelessness is achieved by dressing in black, dressing in shades of nude will always be in style. Nude clothing pieces are a definite closet staple.

The Naked Truth:
Because nude is so close to many skin-tones, the shapes and details comprising these garments are important. Avoid wearing close-fitting, tight pieces--from afar you really will appear naked! If you do choose something fitted--like a pencil-skirt or tank-top--be sure to balance your outfit; loose, flowy fabrics compliment more structured clothing and define your waistline by creating a clean, contrasting horizontal line. Look for nude trousers and tops that have unique tailoring or added embellishments, too. Pleats, ruffles, excentuated shoulders, unique stitching, or a subtle shimmer will all benefit your nudes. The color is so organic; extra design elements may seem unnoticable but will be intriguing and stand out when you take a closer look.

Styling in the Nude:
Nervous about washing yourself out? Try mixing different nude shades--tans, light browns, and cafe au laits are darker than a pale nude and will provide a confident dose of color.
With such an airy outfit, bulky jewelry mixes up the look. To maintain a chic, outfit all over, pick a shimmery grey, subdued yellow, or dusty rose accessory--add in a neutral tan pump to complete your look and elongate your legs. If you have a difficult time working inside such an earthy color palate--adding a bright, spring scarf or eye-catching pump is one solution. Also, more subtle colors--metalics and apricots are sultry accents to nude clothing pieces.
Finally, apply an illuminating lotion to your arms and legs and a soft bronzer to your cheeks to achieve a healthy glow that surely won't blend in with your nude apparel regardless of your skintone.

Check out the Nude Trend on the Runways:
Calvin Klein Spring 2009 Ready to Wear
Narscisco Rodriguez Spring 2009 Ready to Wear
Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, and Chloe also have fabulous designs in a variety of nudes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sleek Summer Hair

Milla Jovovich, 2009

Simple, low-maintenance hair is essential for keeping cool in the summertime. There is nothing worse than limp curls or frizzy locks from all of the heat and humidity. Read on for some healthy-hair and easy-style tricks for hip summer hair:

Hair maintenance:

Although it is tempting to skip conditioner in hopes for less-greasy, longer-lasting fresh hair, don't do it. All of the dry, indoor heat dehydrates hair, and in the summer months your damaged hair could use the extra moisture. Another trick for healthy hair? Try taking a cold shower. If you can stand the shiver, a cold water rinse will smooth your hair cuticles and create more sheen.
If you are considering bangs or a short, cool summer cut be wary. Humidity often causes straight hair to take on a wavy texture. Your new bangs may not stay where you thought they would!
If you do have bangs, consider growing them out for a bit. Longer bangs ending below the brow are in style right now. Check out recent photos of Keira Knightley for a reference. Also, longer bangs are much easier to pin back into fun summer up-dos. In years past I have braided my short bangs towards the crown of my head, pulling longer hair into the braid for more secure strands. A braid adds detail to a basic pony-tail and sets you apart from other up-dos.

Cool Summer Hairstyles:

Wrap-Around Braid:
For an elegant braided look, tease your hair at the crown. Then gather your hair and secure it with a hair-tie. Next, divide the ponytail into two sections; braid both of these sections. Finally, bring the braids around your full, teased hair and secure the ends with bobby pins.
Another chic, braid trick? Part your hair-the center part may be easiest, but an off-center part might look fun and different. French braid each section and wrap the ends together to create a coiled bun.

Low Pony:
This look is incredibly easy and versatile. You can slick your hair smooth or leave it loose for a more carefree look. The ends can also be left alone; however, for a night out, try teasing your ends to create a full, modern style. If teased hair is too much for you, divide the tail into a few sections and curl. Loosen the tendrils by pulling your fingers through the curls.

Subtle, Beach Waves:
Wavy hair just says summer. Depending on the texture of your hair, a wavy look can easily be achieved. Purchase a beach spray (my favorite is made by Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray); squirt the spray on the ends of almost-dry (air-dried!) hair. Twist your hair into sections. To set the waves, finish by blow drying your hair--quickly, so you don't completely unfurl the curls. Tousel the ends to add more texture, too.

More ideas for long hair:
Mermaid waves-- 1940s, large, rolling waves, side part
Straight and sleek-- flat-iron, shiny, center part

Hair cut Trends:
Hair in 2009 is extreme. Mid-length bobs were increasingly popular in 2008, so to stand out avoid a shoulder or chin-length cut.
Cropped bobs--think Agnyss Denn--with severe angles; pixie cuts--extra short, like Victoria Beckham's current hairstyle; super long, flowing hair--mostly seen on the runways, Proenza Schouler and Anna Sui's models.
A hair cut is a dramatic way to change your look--just make sure you have the face-shape and confidence to pull off a new style (especially a super-short pixie). Hair takes awhile to grow back!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Southern Style

photo from; Lacoste, Trovata, Reyes - Spring 2009

When the heat rolls around, I always regret my normal position on temperature: I used to prefer being cold over hot, but I take that back! When it is 100 degrees and I have just showered to cool down, blow-drying my hair and putting on mascara seems counter-productive. Why did I waste my time? The minute I step outside, I have sweat between my cheeks and sunglasses, and my fresh, sleek hair is a frizzy mess!
How is it that the women of the South, the ideal Southern Belle, stay cool and look chic?

Picking cool items and light fabrics can make a scorching day feel like a breeze!
Combine the following and heat to 108 degrees fahrenheit:

Look for a bright or light colored sundress. If they fit right, sun dresses are comfortable and chic. Unlike pants or jeans--which feel constricting in the heat--your legs can breathe better. If you are purchasing a new dress, always make sure the fabric is quality. There is nothing worse than a dress that pills! Georgette is a great, lightweight summer fabric.
Do not pair your sundress with rubber or foam flip-flops (...please)! Your favorite flats or sandals with a 1/2" heel are key to making your dress look more sophisticated, less juvenile. For a super-casual summer look, pick out a gladiator or flip-flop like sandals, embellished with beads, dressed up with metallics or patterns, or created with more substantial material (like leather or light-colored suede, for example).
One last idea about your sundress: Think about how versatile the dress you are buying can become. If you pick a basic, bright color, you can easily create several outfits with one dress. Put on a long, lightweight cardigan and a skinny belt, booties, and a fedora for a completely different look. Even a flowy t-shirt cinched with a silk scarf around your waist can look great depending on the cut and pattern of the dress.

Gingham Print:
Gingham is a light-weight woven cotton cloth, making this fabric ideal for hot weather. It is a traditional American fabric normally consisting of checks in white and bold shades. Typically, a gingham pattern is small, which makes wearing gingham less flamboyant. Sometimes, the checks are so tiny that your shirt or skirt may look like one single, bold color until observed close-up; however, a large-checked gingham print delivers a bold, graphic look. Check out Trovata's Spring 2009 Collection for inspiration on large-scale gingham checks. And, a word on height: watch out for large-checked gingham (or any large-patterned clothing) if you are on the shorter side. Such an oversize pattern is often times overwhelming on smaller frames.

Sun Hat:
Although hats are now more of a fashion statement (or shield for a bad-hair day!), they will continuously serve as a protective shield from the sun's scorching rays. A panama hat will always be traditional in the South. They are created from high-quality straw and designed in innumerable colors and styles. These beautiful Derby-style hats can get pricey though--original panama hats can cost over $1000. Perhaps a more affordable, everyday option might be a straw hat, a fedora, or a floppy hat. Look for a hat with unique details that make it stand out. A bright color, pretty ribbon, feathers, buttons, interesting pins, lace, and other intricacies can be purchased on a hat, or you can get creative and attach your own favorites. Many people have one favorite hat for years--attaching your own personal accessories will make the hat feel lived in and your own--this is truly the essense of personal style.

Southern Gentlemen:
Incorporate these fashion essentials of the South into your wardrobe for a stand-out look that will surely have those sweet, Southern ladies crooning:

seer sucker shirt
navy blazer

Tight Jeans

photo by Nick Krug; BDG Jeans


This year, blue jeans are more multifaceted than ever. Explore all of the great new shapes created in jean materials--fitted blazers, wide-leg trousers, and pleated skirts. Tailored denim can be dressy or casual--I say, wearing jeans to work beats business attire any day (not saying it's allowed...)! The trend doesn't stop merely at clothing--check out funky clutches, heels, and bangles all wrapped up in this cotton twill fabric.

I often receive questions about jeans and jean-jackets, cut-offs and denim vests. How do we make wearing two parts denim look decent, look classy?
Vests featuring studs, faded washes, and paint splotches put a spin on double-denim. Denim hardly washes the same, and an exact match is tricky—and too well planned. The best feature of denim is its personality, versatility, and spontaneity. Don’t attempt to coordinate too much—you’ll end up looking hokey, cowboy, and far too up-tight. Try wearing black jeans or skirts with a faded-out vest, or a light denim jumper with a punk-rock, studded jacket. Denim caters to far more genres than cowboys—don’t be ashamed to mix-and-match for the perfect look.

…speaking of…

Distressed Denim:
All I have to say is, “Already, so soon??!” I feel like an eighth grade student at Abercrombie and Fitch all over again.
Watch out, this trend can be fabulously 80s with a poof-sleeved jacket and spectacular pumps. Or, it may end up looking like you worked too many days on the farm and ripped up your jeans pulling weeds and feeding cows.
Wearing distressed denim dressed up is one of the easiest things to do. If you wear ripped jeans, flip-flops, and a t-shirt, your outfit doesn't look stylish, it just looks raggedy; however, ripped jeans with big hair and a glam-rock top speaks true to this trend.

Styling your denim:
As Americans have recognized for decades, jeans can be worn all different ways--preppy, rock-n-roll, dressy.
Look for speckled, spotted jeans to stand out. Pair your denim with a blue, chambray shirt or a gingham patterned top for an old-fashioned look.
Darker denim is easily dressed up--it looks more sophisticated than washed out, dirty-denim (sometimes jeans that are distressed almost appear green-ish).

The right cut is key. Belted trouser jeans, harem jeans, and cigarette jeans are my favorite pant shapes right now. A trouser jean is an excellent nod to menswear, and fitted, cigarette jeans feel sexy with your favorite going-out shoes.
Still, recognize that a popular style you like may not be figure-flattering. Trend or no trend--above all, choose a jean in which you feel comfortable and one that flatters your individual figure.

For more denim ideas...

Marc by Marc Jacobs for a great denim dress
Report Signature for platform denim sandals
Banana Republic for fitted denim blazer and (my favorite) Heritage Collection belted jeans
Earnest Sewn for 'Wellesley' super high rise full trouser and 'Zazo' super high rise straight leg

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lawrence Runways: Art on the Green & The Drunken Sailor's Tailor

photo by Caitlin Donnelly, Special to the Journal-World

Last Thursday two fashion shows featuring the styling and design of brilliant locals took place back to back.

Around 7:00 PM, models at the Spencer Museum of Art walked through the main gallery. "Art on the Green" featured sustainable clothing styled by local companies or created by designers with ties to the University of Kansas. Store participants included White Chocolate, Eco Boutique, and Magic Carpet Traveler; two individuals also took part--Liz Kowalchuk, Associate Professor of Design and Meghan Arthur, Columbia, MO. Sierra Falter, President of the Student Advisory Board was excited about the show's success: "At least one portion from each of the outfits included organic fabric or vintage, recycled, second-hand clothing. We wanted to visually show students the dressing possibilities a partially green wardrobe can lend, not just lecture." The style was everything from casual, everyday to tailored chic, and outfits were dressed up with accessories like scarves and hats. The show rang true to me: I love thrifting and promote it. Purchasing vintage clothing is an easy way to maintain individual style and support local businesses by thinking globally, going green.

After changing out of my wide-leg trousers equipped with matching suspenders (both made by my fabulously creative friend, Meghan Arthur), I left the Spencer Museum of Art and headed downtown to catch a glimpse of another high-energy show--The Drunken Sailor's Tailor. It was the first fashion show I had seen as a spectator, and it was fun to see the final outcome still knowing some of the goings on behind the curtain.

A Drunken Sailor's Tailor featured 15 acts, each one capturing unique trends that can easily be worn on a daily basis.
Read on for my thoughts about the show's trends, some of my favorite acts, and advice to incorporate a little style from a Lawrence runway into your own wardrobe:

"Uptown Monkey," styled by Tricia Rock, was edgy, sexy, rock-and-roll. Think corsets, ripped tights, and big hair. Or, hair was slicked back--high pony tails twisted into a stumpy knot. Shoes were anything from chunky to strappy and super-high.

For a sweeter look, "So Quaint," clothing by Monica Gundelfinger, featured a gorgeous neutral palette. Bernadette Peters, the jewelry expert at Goldmakers commented, "The mustard mix on (one) red-headed model was spot-on. Kylie's hair was fabulous and larger than life in a way that offset the neutrals nicely. Big hair is where it's at right now!"

Even the ushers and announcers looked hot--decked out in red, white, and blue--this great sailor look made me think high-waist pants and red lips meet Rosie the Riveter, fabulous.

Pangaea Artspace and Gallery showed off a creative line of clothing. Gregory Thomas--the artist known as Rex--described the event as "Corn fed and fabulous!!" Their models walked out in drunken undies and tank tops complete with anchor stencils and audacious spray-paint colors that truly complied with the show's motif.

Another favorite group dolled up feathers and fringe for a 'Buffalo Goddess' look. Incorporating beads and moccasins with a simple skirt or pair of cut-offs can instantly change your look from average to stand-out.

The very last set by Jeremy Rockwell was stand-out. In recessions, every aspect of life seems to turn to fantasy and escapism. This fantastical group followed that very sentiment.

Take home points:
Debbie Harry punk/polish
menswear with sweet, pink or pastel palettes
Native American finishing touches
"Big Hair!"
Rock & Roll
layered, long necklaces that reveal personalities of the wearer

Program's Acts:
Uptown Money
styled by Tricia Rock

Beyond the Door

Prodigy Apparel

Kitty Reese
Styled by Jeannie Reed

Hot Tea Clothing
by Amanda Kapfer

Pangaea Artspace and Gallery
by Rex

Steffani Day

So Quaint
by Monica Gundelfinger

Missfortunes Creation Station

Kate E. Burke
styled by Kate E. Burke and Suzannah Johannes

Wild Man Vintage
styled by Nicole Edwards

by Loni Hosking

Vintage Van
styled by owner Martha Pierce

Another Man's Treasure
by Fresh Produce Art Collective
styled by Charles Ray, Josie Wrath, Eroc Johonsson, Adam Dorssom,
Jeromy Morris, Paul Flinders, Robert Gandy, Whit Bones, Ostaf Heller, Aaron Storck

Jeremy Rockwell

Monday, April 27, 2009

Essentials for Spring

photo by Nick Krug; boyfriend blazer-Gap

The winter changeover into spring is always a tricky dressing situation. I have previously highlighted new spring clothing shapes, fun accessories, and girly special-occasion dresses.
Still, preparing a winter-to-spring wardrobe can be helpful when you're busy or on-the-go.
Check out my favorite transition items that fill my closet, coat-racks, bins, boxes, bags, bedroom floor...

With these items, you can easily stay warm, bright, and ready for spring!

Bright Trench Coat:
Trenches are fabulous for the warm daytime, chilly night time, and quick changing temperatures that are common in Lawrence. By throwing on a brilliantly bold jacket, you will feel fabulous no matter how gloomy and grey the sky.

Versatile Jean Jacket:
Jean jackets have been a classic for decades. Jackets in black, dark blue, acid wash, and light denim all deserve a spot in your closet. A fancy dress is friendlier in an instant, and a boxy shape perfectly balances either fitted or flowing bottoms. Plus, individual details--such as embroidery, jewels, pins, or studs will reflect your fashion sense or mindset.

Retro Shades:
A pair of nice shades or refurbished aviators are great to have around year-round. If you have sensitive eyes, even cloudy weather appears too bright-white! Look for a pair that is unique--not just another mass produced spin-off. Some companies are known for reproducing retro sunglasses with newly installed lenses, and others allow you to choose the pattern, color, and shape of your sunglasses to create a custom sun-blocking accessory.

Paisley Scarves
A paisley scarf--or any scarf, be it bright or patterned--will add instant pop to your outfit. A scarf draws attention to the glow around your face and looks worldly. Scarves always remind me of a convertible on a perfectly breezy day.

Bold, Skinny Belts:
Skinny belts add shape to everyday sweaters and flowing tops. Whether a dress is fitted or not, a belt works to distinguish your top and bottom halves, gives the eye a break from a monochrome-colored dress, and adds fun color and details on its own. Plus, a skinny belt is often more flattering than the chunky, thicker belts that seem ubiquitous nowadays; a skinny belt won't smash your belly in, but it highlights the shape of your real waist without looking or feeling uncomfortable.

Brown Shoes:
Spring and Fall are perfect for wearing brown shoes! Brown shoes match the damp ground and all of the plant energies that seem to hum underground, waiting to spring up. Brown looks great on all skin tones, too. Bring out the warmth in your brown wedges or heels with gold earrings, rings, and necklaces.

Graphic Dress:
A graphic dress is a spring wardrobe staple. If you do not have a comfortable, flattering dress pick one up now! Dresses feel feminine and flowy, which are essential for spring. If it is chilly, throw on a boyfriend blazer or jean-jacket for some warmth and contrast in shape. I often hear women say that they favor wearing dresses because it is easier than picking out an entire outfit; frankly, I don't know believe this--shoes, bracelets, jackets, stockings/no stockings, earrings, lipstick, hat...I am not listing these options to seem high-maitenance, but rather to emphasize that a dress is easy, but don't just stop at the dress! A dress can be worn so many different ways, so play with each one and discover which additional pieces bring out your best style.

Unique Umbrella
Don't let a rainy day ruin your mood--if you have a fun, funky umbrella, you'll be uplifted instantly. Think about purchasing one with a flower-print pattern, rainbow stripes, unique shape, or adorned wooden handle. Or, grab a trendy, clear see-through umbrealla and watch the raindrops be blocked right above you! Taking an extra moment to pop up an umbrella always makes me feel energetic and youthful. There is something about walking around like a Londoner that brings a smile.

Don't stop there! Think about what clothing speaks spring to you and think of stylish pieces that would make the transition into spring a bit easier. What else is on my list? A chain-strap purse, fun patterns, a boyfriend blazer, and sparkly jewelry.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lawrence, KS--Fashion Hot-Spot

In April and May, Lawrence takes off as the fashion hot spot of Kansas.
Check out two shows in the next 10 days in Lawrence for a personal dose of home-town, high-fashion:

• The Drunken Sailor’s Tailor — A Benefit Fashion Show

9:30 p.m. Thursday, Abe and Jake’s, 8 E. Sixth St. If you are interested in donating to either Americana Music Academy or Burmese refugees but are unable to attend the fashion show, please drop off checks at Wildman Vintage, 939 Mass.

• Douglas County Medical Alliance Fashion and Jewelry Show

April 29, Signs of Life Gallery, 722 Mass. Proceeds benefit Health Care Access and Van Go Mobile Arts.

After a healthy dose of fashion week in New York and Paris, identifying a few runway trends with short life expectancies is vital.
Let’s face it folks, some things should be left on the runway.

Bloomers were originally manufactured as athletic-drawers for tom-boys. These scrunchy, ruffly, granny-like panties are to be worn under your skirt. Still, bloomers seem to be popping up all over fashion blogs in the UK, in the pages of Nylon magazine, and on models styled in all-over Americana. So, should we embrace this trend, at least happy it’s not as tight as a hot-short despite its teensy length?
I just don’t know…
Longer, denim bloomers are one thing, and equipped with a decent pair of patterned tights or lacey, embroidered leggings, a courageous young thing may chance it. Just be prepared for staring men and catcalls, a cold booty and purple knees. And then there’s the volatile Kansas weather…

Midriff Baring Tops:
In 1999, it was all about Clueless, Madonna remixed, and Britney Spears. Halters, bandeau tops, and crop tops made the naked tummy all the rage. I distinctly remember being sent to the principal’s office because when I leaned over—gasp!—my back along with my belly was showing!
Bare bellies always look good on the runway and on thin 14 year-old girls, but really? Is your middle classy at any other age?

These one-piece jumpsuits can look excellent on the runway, frumpy in real life. If a romper is not styled or fitted appropriately, it may end up looking like an old pair of hand-me-down overalls from a cousin two sizes wrong. Try to find rompers that highlight your waistline. And if you’ve got the legs for it—short, short, shorter! Short is slightly daring when appropriate, perfectly sassy when confident. If you are nervous, pair your romper with patterned tights that add to and distract from your body woes.