Navy Anew!

Go Navy!
This year I have rediscovered an old favorite, the color Navy.  Why “rediscover”?  Well, somewhere over the past ten years or so I had eschewed the traditional, preppy color in favor of black.  Navy is a great neutral and is super versatile, no question.  However, while I absolutely love the classics, and nothing is as classic as navy, most garments I had been seeing in navy were starting to get, well, just the tiniest bit dowdy. Think LL Bean with boxy jackets, pleated pants and crew neck sweaters, all great basics but not great fashion.  As the snazzy suiting looks of the nineties – cropped jacket suits, vest suits, pinstripes (such great stuff….I really miss it) drifted away into the office casual looks of the naughties so went my navy clothes.  Sure every resort season and spring you got some great nautical looks popped with red or tarted up with brass buttons, but all in all it was pretty dull and not up to my fashionista standards. 
Then along came a cool, dramatic and stylish way to wear navy – with black!  Once a big fashion “Don’t”, this combination started to show up on the runways of great classic designers such as Calvin Klein and Donna Karan and edgier designers like Thakoon, Marc Jacobs and Derek Lam.  The first runway look that inspired me was a dramatic super-dark navy trench coat in cashmere with black patent accents, topping a black high-necked sweater, navy tweed shorts and black tights and high boots.   It was such a take-charge look.  It screamed “I am a fashion insider” and yet, a quick glance at each piece led the viewer to the realization – hey, I have those sorts of pieces, I can do this look!!!    The challenge was to figure out just the right mix, there needs to be some texture, a touch of shine, some specialness to make this work.My first navy and black winner outfit started with an impulse buy.  I had bought a long shirtwaist tunic in white from Saks with great seaming that opened out into the skirt of the tunic this top was soooo flattering and fit perfectly.  I was so in love with the cut, and the fact that it was on a killer discount, that I also grabbed it in darkest navy blue.  At 75% off it was sort of a no-brainer grab, and I had an outfit in mind…here was my navy and black building block.  I paired it with black leggings (a cool pair with nifty riding details), black suede ankle boots, a wide black suede belt and a black necklace and ta-dah!!  The black accessories add some texture in the suede and some shine with the beads adds visual interest and contrasts really well against the dark navy blue.  The detail in the pants also helped keep this look more fashion forward.  I love this outfit, it is very chic and I get tons of complements on it.

Buoyed by this first success I found myself drawn to other navy opportunities.  An embellished cotton tunic fromLafayette148 with dark silver and anthracite beading gives a nod to the navy and black combination and great texture and shine.  I simply adore this piece, it’s great for day to evening and special occasions without being too evening-y and it’s a kick to accessorize – shiny silver or deeper pewter both work really well.  I also have a cardigan from Tahari, navy with black grosgrain ribbon trim is a terrific basic, though I have to be a bit careful with this little number as it can turn super frumpy on me, I have to keep some edge on it, pairing it with bolder pieces like wide-legged pants and a pair of heeled spectator oxfords.    

The trick to keeping navy super chic is to find pieces that keep the color fresh and fashion-forward with unexpected shapes, details or usage.   I like to find a way to play a riff on a classic by changing up the shapes, selecting special textures or adding other visual interest – mixing media, adding shine or unexpected details.  This fall the designers are making it really easy and fun.  Navy and navy and black are in full force with plenty of terrific options. 

I am especially fond of using the richness of suede or even corduroy, like these flared numbers, to enhance the depth of the color – I thought theLot78 suede moto jacket and YSL high waisted a-line skirt were both amazing choices.  Soooo luxe.  I also thought the Emma Cook shift dress in leather was sensational – black would have seemed so obvious while navy gives a sly wink.  The Alice + Olivia sequin tunic plays the same way – it would seem passé in black, but is a little fresher in dark blue and it brings in some sparkle. 

On the shape shifting front I thought that the nearly asymmetrical hem of the theysken’s theory skirt was fun and I LOVED the exaggerated silhouette of Temperly London wool cardigan.  Without the ruffles at the shoulders this would be a really boring Grampa Cardi found everywhere.  But changing up the silhouette while still keeping it’s Grampa-esque origins makes it fun and clever. 

As for black and navy combos – I am totally in love with Miu Miu’s bootie and the Pierre Hardy shoulder bag. With its glint of black patent trim and the luxe of suede that bag mixes all the best elements.  This sweater dress, another terrific Emma Cook piece, plays on both the texture and color front and is a single step into mixing black and navy – just add black tights and killer booties and you are done!  If you are looking to be a bit more daring, these Bally shorts are simply fab.  I know I know, I thought the same thing.  But then I saw them paired with black tights and trim booties, a crisp white shirt and a trim, cropped black jacket and I totally got it…they are super flattering and look sensational. 

So there you have it…out of the frumpy closet and onto the fashion catwalk – gooooo Navy!!!!

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