Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spring 2009 Accessories

photo from

The lingering months between winter and spring always cause grief. The volatile weather makes dressing temperature-appropriate difficult. Cute tops almost always end up shielded by an inevitable sweatshirt; sassy springtime dresses get traded for warmer jeans at the end of the day. Still—those few hours of sunshine and warmth always trick me, and overexcited by the prospect of a warm day, I deck out in bright, vibrant, light clothing, but I end up shivering, shuddering, and—dismayed—I change back into cold-weather clothes for the remainder of the day. Despite this frustration, even a sweater (surely hiding a gorgeous blouse) can look fabulous with a few accessories. Although it may be a tad early to wear spring clothing, exercising a few spring clothing trends through other means is quite acceptable. Perhaps it will be enough to tide you over as you patiently, anxiously wait for spring to come on already!

Tribal Colors and Natural Wonders:
This spring, utilize color-rich accessories to show off your own natural skin-tone and hue. Rich purples, bold mustard yellows, organic wood-browns, bright brick-reds, and luster-full golds are all complimentary. Rich corals and turquoise combine fabulously. Slip on stacks of chunky bangles and bracelets. Juxtapose jade with mother-of-pearl, ebony and lapis—you name it. Look for detail-oriented purses and shoes as well as jewelry. Patterns found in nature placed on clutches or necklaces are perfect—for example, a clasp imitating bamboo.
*Keep your eye out for easy, innovative ways to incorporate jewelry literally into your outfit, too. I am currently awestruck with jewelry designer Taher Chemirik’s detailed chokers and chains, consisting of beautiful, asymmetric patterns and fabulous, bright gems. His necklaces can be hooked from their clasps to a wrap (his are a liquid silk jersey). Your necklace becomes the halter for your dress, and you feel wonderfully exotic wearing a full-length silk sarong!

Go Wild:
Python scale pumps and crocodile clutches, serpent-print dresses and slithery accessories—this spring, designers are calling all snake charmers. Some of my favorites include Coach’s cobra-like gladiators, Prada’s snakeskin runway dresses, Miu Miu’s whipsnake bag, and Chloe’s platform pythond sandals. This unique texture is eye-catching and different, but can easily be worked into an everyday outfit. Can you mix your different snake pieces? Why not! I have just been suggested to carry a played down, off-white python purse, proudly walking in my jungle-green pumps!

On the Prowl:
Hunt for other Spring items that highlight nature:
-earrings or shoes with fringe
-bold, animal-print jumpers
-feathered skirts (check out Burberry’s popular mini-dress)
-cheetah and leopard print tops or handbags

Vintage Dives for Modern Looks

photo by Nick Krug

To achieve a truly unique, individual, modern dressing style, shopping vintage is vital. Vintage pieces easily mix-and-match with ubiquitous department-store clothing, and integrating funky, rare items into an everyday wardrobe makes building your own, personal ‘look’ simple and fun. Perhaps you have a scarf fetish, or love costume jewelry. Looking in second-hand shops and antique malls for items that fit your personal flair can become a life-long hunt: pick up a pair of earrings while you’re abroad; bargain for a belt-buckle reflecting your totem-animal at a garage sale. Shopping vintage provides great selection—trends that span generations provide so many diverse items for you to peruse. You will have so much more fun dressing each day if your clothing reminds you of a great Saturday morning or an impromptu weekday vacation. No price can be placed on a slightly worn, much loved blouse with a history-to-boot.

Get Started:
Ask around town and chat with your fashionable friends—uncover the whereabouts of their favorite local thrift stores. There are surely a few used clothing stores and hidden hot-spots that even evade the finest Pack Rats and Early Callers. Keep track of their hours—which are often quirky times—get to know the employees, and discover when new merchandise turns over. Don’t be discouraged if your first visit is unyielding—remember that the turnover in second-hand stores is large and next time you’re sure to find that ‘one man’s trash…’

Easy pieces of Fashionable Flair:
If you are wary about purchasing clothing from a different generation, start small. Scour the shelves for accessories. You won’t regret purchasing a zip-lock full of earrings for a quarter. Plus, jewelry is more timeless and trend-proof than apparel. Also, look at purses and bags for unique shaped clutches and colorful carry-alls unavailable to the masses at department stores. A fun, vintage purse is an easy way to stand out, especially in the winter when we spend so much time bundled, avoiding the frigid wind.

Size Doesn’t Matter:
One last tip—don’t reject a great pantsuit or retro dress merely because its size is out of your league. The fashion world has never quite got a grip on the whole size-thing—1, 3, 5 in low-end department stores, waist measurements by the inch in boutiques, European sizes next to American sizes in popular chain stores like Top-Shop, Unisex sizing for generic, everyday, favorites (American Apparel)—you name it. Designers all have unique methods for sizing their pieces, but trust me—gage your size by a bathroom scale, not from the barely visible stitched-in size fading away in your best-fitting, true-blue, always faithful, great-butt, 10 year-old Levis.

Trends from Then In Style Now:
-look for angular 80s clothing, broad shouldered shirts, ruffled hemlines, floral prints, bright neon and soft pastel hues
-try out high-waist 60s/70’s style jeans and short shorts, pedal-pushers, and denim rompers
-find hats and belts with bows, studded jackets, and graphic, geometric-patterned sweaters
-keep the latest of trends in mind, verified during New York Fashion Week: defined waistlines, unique blazers, voluminous tops, pantsuits, bold monochromatic two-piece outfits, funky patterned dresses, harem pants

Art Deco Digs

photo detail of Chanel and Armani Prive Couture Spring 2008 Collection (

Although New Year’s Day has passed and 2009 is going full throttle, don’t turn your back on 2008 quite yet—and never ever turn your back on anything Armani Prive Couture.
Dressy, art-deco apparel from Spring 2008 Collections are still stylish and inspiring: Chanel’s line utilized mass amounts of shiny sequins and detailed, beaded fans; Armani’s own line featured decadent belt buckles and broach-like center pieces attached to structured, geometrically constructed dresses—dresses that challenge the Chrysler Building itself for it’s well-known position as Art Deco King.

This fabulous, prosperous Art Deco period lasted nearly 35 years, spanning 4 decades from 1911 to 1946. Changing times allowed for growth in American design and new, youthful fashion began. As waistlines moved from below the bust to just at the hips, Chanel rose to top trendsetter; crazy seam lines, embellished draping, gauze, beads, and feathers topped supply lists; leather, knit, and rayon became fabrics of choice.
So, what can you choose? How can you go deco?

Incorporating the art-deco vibe into a wearable wardrobe is simple, chic, and fun. Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich themselves approved—sporting fitted trousers and broad shouldered tops for the first time.
-Look for high-waist pants with tapered legs to emphasize an hourglass shape. Trousers ought to be fitted so the female form does not disappear entirely.
-Drop-waist, flapper-like dresses are excellent—if you’ve the lean figure for it.
-Shirt-dresses are an easy, comfortable way to incorporate the crisp, geometric lines popular in the art-deco era.
-Evening wear that is tight, but still embellished with funky seams and drapes is key. And look for a open-back—the erotic zone of this period.
-Keep in mind exotic influences—art deco is brave, bold, and sensuous. Women—be empowered and try new styles with confidence.

Self-expression and fashionable, art-deco dressing is easy to achieve via accessories, which took off during this clothing-rationed time (Ah! I’d give up and politely scream, ‘Jail me, just don’t take my Limited Design Edition Jimmy Choo Crocodile Clutch!’).
-Look for Egyptian themed jewelry, scarab beetles, natural stones (like turquoise and coral), and gold.
-Do not over-accessorize if your outfit is already on the art-deco edge of cosume-y. All those beads and feathers, seams and layers can be overpowering. Don’t loose your feminine shape. “Too much going on” is not the point, nor a flattering description wanted by any recipient.

For a super-easy art-deco vibe, try altering your make-up. By changing your daily shadow color or lip pigment, you will be surprised at the different look achieved. Pick out a fun, vibrant color; new, different shades and shapes highlight your natural features. Expressive, poignant shade variations can embolden your eyes and lips. A fresh color palette is illuminating.
-Stream-line your eye make-up. Don’t attempt a smoky eye, rather think ‘tidy eyes.’ The geometric cleanliness of art-deco will come through best with perfectly penciled eye-liner and some dark-black mascara.
-Wear bright red, 40s style lipstick—perfectly applied. Try a lip-stain for better placement. You’ll only have to apply it meticulously once.
-Try “Lilac Impressions,” a new color palette by the make-up line Art Deco itself. It is a twist on modern art deco, a face fit for 2009.

Further Elements, Icons, Influences, and Ideas:
-Sharp, crisp, structured, clean
-High-waist pants, drop-waist dress
-Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka
-Lauren Bacall
-Geometric details, especially in accessories