Archive for March, 2012

March 19, 2012

Spring Trend – Lost In Translation

Spring Pants

One of the spring trends that has gotten a lot, and I mean a lot, of editorial and retail coverage is the printed pant.  The runways in September were full of them – at many design houses and in nearly every cut – super skinny crops and even shorts at Jason Wu, Dolce and Gabana, and Pucci to my personal favorite – flowy palazzos as seen at Elizabeth and James, Missoni and Etro (my personal favorites – GORGEOUS prints).  Some designers even went so far as to create full head to toe looks that left Fashionistas inspired.   

However, this may be one of those fashion trends that are be a bit too “fashiony” for most women outside of Manhattan, Milan, Paris and possibly Miami.  Clearly it is a look that is truly Man Repeller worthy – many will look at those print bedecked pants and think they look like pajamas or are just plain weird.  So it is understandable and completely expected that when the spring retail season ramps up those jaw-dropping, audacious looks will be toned down.

Sadly, as with many highly conceptual trends, so far the translation has not been a universal success in the real world.  Now I know that bold head-to-toe patterned looks might be too much for most people but many of the muted floral and small scale geometric prints on denim or leggings on offer feel less like interpretation and more like a complete miss.  After scouring my favorite sources I have found a few gems, but the bulk of the garments on offer miss the mark. 

I know that buyers need garments that are saleable to a wide audience, but many of the colors and scaled-down prints are blah, and completely miss the sassy spirit of the runway looks.  That divine bold floral at Balenciaga has become a watered-down Little House on the Prairie-ish floral at Nordstrom and Macys.  How sad!  And then there is the execution – the way the prints end up on garments has produced some strange effects – with odd mismatching and unflattering placement of print.  This has been really disappointing as I loved the runway looks and was truly excited to see what the mainstream retailers would do. 

Now some are great – I did some prowling and found some I really love – like these divine Etro numbers.  Alice + Olivia and Elizabeth and James also have several palazzos I am in serious lust with – gosh I wish they made plus sizes!  The Jason Wu printed shorts are adorable, especially paired with a girly top; ditto the Anna Sui short which was shown with the matching top for a romper look that is fresh and flirty.  The cropped, narrow cut pants by Sandro Pressage and Clements Ribeiro evoke an Audrey Hepburn vibe with a modern twist in the bold colors and clever patterns. 

Wearing this look is going to be tricky – with pajama or palazzo pants looks can go from chic or ironic to just weird or sloppy, and skinny cuts in leopard print that will create fabulous “street” looks or may veer sharply to street walking.  To make this work, keep a few tips in mind:

  • When you put printed pants on take a big step back and look at the big picture – pattern placement and what the pattern’s effect is on your shape.  Are there weird lines, flowers in unflattering places, or do they make your legs look short or your body wide?  Make sure to take a critical look from both front and behind.
  • Select tops that play with proportions/color/coverage to offset any flaw-inducing features and to balance the overall effect. 
  • Be careful with cut.  Clearly this is key on fitted pants, but is even crucial on palazzos – don’t let the flowy lines fool you into thinking it’s not important.  Some versions, especially those with drawstrings or gathered waists create awkward volume or bunch at the tummy and crotch when you walk.  Make sure they are cut well and move well.
  • Unless you are super tall take care with oversized prints and horizontal elements in prints, especially with cropped versions, or the prints will “crop” you further.

It is early days yet this spring so I haven’t seen too many versions out and about; I will be curious to see how the trend makes it in the real world.  Meanwhile my first pair – a cute pair of black and white circle-print palazzos – is inbound so we will see if they are a hit or a miss.  I am hoping they are a hit and will be paired up with a cropped jacket and some platform espadrilles – a little modern, a little vintage.  Fingers crossed and I will keep you posted!

March 3, 2012

Getting The Mojo Back

I have been losing my fashion mojo of late.  A horrible thing to admit, I know.  While a bit of a slump pretty much happens every January/February and July/August, as the fun has worn off wearing that season’s clothes, this year it seems to be a more serious case.  I have struggled more in the mornings to get dressed and it’s not because I don’t have lots of great options in my closet.  It’s just that I haven’t been “feeling” them, if you know what I mean.  And until recently I didn’t even realize that was the issue, until a little incident got me thinking… 

As I headed out the door for work the other day Mr. Commando said “Wow! You look ready to kick butt” and I was genuinely surprised.   This was hardly an epic outfit.  Just black, wide-legged go-to trousers, black suede booties, black turtleneck tunic sweater, fun and funky wide black belt, my everyday silver jewelry, and a rather elderly Isabella Fiore East/West bag in black.  Now the belt *is* fab.  And the turtleneck (a turtleneck!) has some literal flare going in its bell sleeves but nothing groundbreaking, nothing even remotely au courant or truly trendy.  And yet my beloved was right – I looked good and more importantly I FELT it!!!  Whaaaa???? 

Why was this particular outfit so great?  Now asking him to articulate that was probably unfair.  He did his best but it was hardly illuminating and went something along the lines of “I dunno…its black….you look good…cool belt”.   But it did give me food for thought and as I pondered it further on my commute to work I had a bit of an epiphany. 

Last year I made a resolution to try new things in the fashion department.  And I did!  I tried new silhouettes – skinny jeans and leggings with longer tunics and asymmetric hems, I wore less black – adding a bit more color and more prints, and I even added a few more dresses and skirts to my repertoire.  But, while I like and even love some of the new things I don’t always feel as good in them as I would like.  Meanwhile other (older) pieces I know I look awesome in have been languishing in my closet – victims of my “new fashion” resolutions.  Good grief!  Is this a sign I have become old and I am firmly stuck in my own ruts unwilling to like new things, or is it because the new trends have left me feeling a bit fashion-victimy?

Perhaps not; perhaps it’s just that I haven’t really “owned” those new items, and some just aren’t really ME.  Meanwhile that black outfit is soooo me – those wide legged trousers have some swagger, the basics in black are a great canvas to highlight stellar accessories (a personal trademark) and the cuts highlight rather than hide my hourglass shape.  The other great thing about that particular ensemble is that there is a timelessness going for it.  It looks totally hip and cool without being any trend at all, which is the very best kind of fashion.  I realized that in taking on new fashions I had been a bit too literal, going for head-to-toe on-trend looks, and in the process had lost a bit of what makes my own personal style fabulous, and, more importantly, what makes it mine. 

I headed to my closet with this firmly in mind and looked at every outfit I had worn for the past few weeks and noted not just how I looked but how I felt.  What did I find?

1)      I am struggling between sizes and my shape has changed (again) so there are a few pieces that really need to be taken in, and a few that I need to let go; but overall what has always worked best for me, still does. 

2)      I am wearing more of the current silhouettes, but some of them look and feel schlumpy.  Clearly if I am going to wear leggings/skinny jeans I need to define my waist while keeping my posterior covered.  The tent thing is NOT working. 

3)      I do still like how I look in my wide-legged jeans and trousers best – in or out, this is MY LOOK – so some of those tunics are going to get belts or hemmed and paired up with them.

4)      I need to go back to wearing cropped/tailored jackets or cardigans – Even if they aren’t as “in” as they were, they are still much better on me than a boyfriend blazer – no matter how many times I try, the longer blazer makes me look like a barrel, one that is based on my widest parts no less, ugh.

5)      I still don’t love dresses and skirts so I can save my money and stop buying them for awhile, because clearly I am not wearing them!

This exercise gave me a much needed new perspective on my same old same old.  Fortunately this sort out didn’t result in a list of new stuff I needed, which is good ‘cause lately the stuff being offered has left me a bit flat and isn’t always terribly flattering either (muu-muu tops? – yeah, not so much).  But I did look at ways to mix what I have to freshen up what really works for me.  So expect to see less of my legs as I get back to wearing more of my favorite wide-legged jeans and trousers.  And I will be wearing more jackets – I feel just a tad more chic with an outstanding jacket, so its time to start wearing them more often.  And there will be more black – because I really love it.  

Lesson learned?  While it’s great to add new things and change it up from time to time, not all trends are created equally, and sometimes you have to stick to what is really your own look or you have to tweak a new trend to make it truly your own.  Hmmm…I feel my mojo coming on…

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