Archive for May, 2012

May 20, 2012

Pure Jean-ious!

White Jeans

I recently heard a young and not fat lady say “no, no white jeans for me. They will make me look fat!” What?! You mean my favorite warm season go-to pant makes you look fat?? Really?! Au contraire, ma petit, this is soooo not the case. No my darlings, white pants, jeans in particular, have been getting a bad rap for too long. Women not only accuse them of making them “look fat” (NOT TRUE! ), but of being too transparent (not always true), and of being impractical because they get dirty so easily (well, okay they aren’t as easy as blue denim or black, I’ll give you that one…)

It is time for me to stand up for one of my favorite wardrobe essentials. I LOVE white jeans – they are one of those garments that it takes practically no effort to use to create a look that is super chic and can be really glamorous. First of all, they are white – my favorite summer neutral – it’s crisp, eye catching, always in style and a snap to work with. Every color and black looks great with white. Even women who don’t usually wear white next to their faces can rock a pair of white pants. And white jeans in lightweight denim are a terrific alternative to white pants in other materials like linen or poplin as they will stay looking crisp and unwrinkled far longer and are far more opaque.

So, how does one make white jeans work? Well first off you must embrace that they are going to get dirty and stained. They are going to be absolute magnets for every child with sticky fingers, as well as every hairy animal, dusty car and dirty chair in a fifty mile radius. Every grubby unwanted molecule in your vicinity will find its way to your jeans. This means that you will be stain treating, washing, and maybe even doing a little bleaching of these babies after every single wearing. So do NOT spend a mint on them. They are going to have a life expectancy of a single year, best case. And if you find yourself with an ideal pair that you simply love – buy two. You will thank me later.

Now to find the best pair for you. Firstly, keep in mind that lighter colors definitely stand out, so they can appear bigger than the same pant in darker colors, but looking big in clothing is far more about cut and fit than color. The bright white is going to make an unfortunate cut and fit far more apparent than a pair of jeans in dark wash denim. So you will need to select a cut that is the absolute most flattering cut for your figure – period. If you are round, this is not the time to try skinny jeans, and if you are short or have stubby legs forget cropped styles. Instead think leg line – keep it long. Think fit – not too snug, not too baggy, no bunching or bumps. And keep it spare on the derriere and in front with minimal embellishments, pockets, etc.

Women of a certain age or shape…and chicness, are going to look best in a wide leg or flare jean. Worn with a fab tunic or floaty embellished top, a figure flattering belt and some snappy/strappy espadrille platform sandals; topped with boho or glam accessories this look can go seriously retro 70’s or you can go sleek and simple, with clean-lined pieces for more timeless chic. For the truly young and hip a pair of boyfriend style jeans, layered tees and cute oxfords topped up with a fun hat will give a breezy, sporty vibe. And for those babes in their trendy twenties and thirties – mate up a pair of skinny white jeans with chunky, high-heeled sandals, and nearly any top from floaty
and long to fitted and sleek. Fab.

There are soooo many great ways to wear white jeans, they are just amazingly versatile. They can be retro, modern, sexy, sporty, romantic, you name it. And regardless of silhouette, I think white jeans are the ideal thing to pair with a blue denim jacket without looking like you are wearing a denim suit. They are also a snap to dress up for a summer evening out with an embellished top. And they are a terrific item to support this season’s brights and color block looks. The options are endless and so easy.

While it can be a bit difficult to overcome a long-held prejudice, and make a body image adjustment, it’s well worth making the effort. If you aren’t sure where to start, why not see if your favorite jeans come in white, and go from there? Come on, give it a try and join the glam girls. You know you can!

May 5, 2012

Let’s Skirt the Issue

Lets Skirt The Issue

The peplum has been around fashion for, well, nearly ever.  While it’s most notable glory days were in the Victorian era and in the 1940’s, it has never really left and recently has become on-trend once again.  Raf Simmons started it last spring at Jil Sander with his inspired add-on skirts and this season many designers have picked it up.

So, just what *is* a peplum – it is a short overskirt, added at the bottom of a jacket or blouse, or the top of a skirt, or a separate piece you wear like the Jil Sander version.  Originally a design element for functional purposes, they are now purely decorative.  Some are full, gathered and long, like true skirts while others are more of a flap-like embellishment. 

Now at first glance most women are going to say “why on earth would I add a second skirt that is going to emphasize my hips and midsection?!”  Well, they wouldn’t be completely wrong, many times adding volume to that portion of the body is not the best idea, but the right peplum can actually be magical – creating curves where there might not be any, emphasizing a waist, and even camouflaging a tummy now and then.  Not too shabby, huh? 

In my wanderings of the spring collections this year I found a few designers that really made the peplum work, and some that didn’t quite.  My favorites were the designers that veered just a few steps away from the traditional, structured flared peplum looks of the 1940s – a look I think of as “church lady” – without going super modern and architectural ala Yohji Yamamoto.

The best designs still have the elements of the traditional look but with a more modern twist.  Robert Rodriguez created a high-low effect on his olive shantung cocktail dress that somehow looked both classic and modern.  (BTW don’t you just  LOVE LOVE LOVE this color? Such a great option for evening).   Jason Wu went a bit wild and added feathers to this black peplum skirt.  This could have gone horribly wrong, but he kept the skirt proportion not too narrow and just a bit shorter than typical and when paired with the modern print top and the super skinny strapped shoes the overall effect looks fresh and playful while being wickedly chic.  Last but not least, Alexander McQueen showed quite a lot of skirted looks, but I really liked this top for its traditional vibe and its sort of goth twist on Victorian.  They showed it with a longer black pencil skirt but I thought it would look really awesome with some black pencil-cut suede or leather pants – nothing too over the top ( zippers, studs, or too shiny), but streamlined with a bit of edge to really play up the goth effect.

For day, the skirted jackets and tops of Burberry and Red Valentino really hit the mark; again the styling and details like the buttons and the mix of fabrics keep it fresh and modern feeling.  The navy top, where the peplum is short and the overall length is nearly cropped is especially cool – I thought it would look great truly cropped and paired with a full maxi skirt for some drama.  Marc Jacobs did a similar cut in jersey in what he called a “sweatshirt” that is really fun and sporty.  This was good, because most of Marc Jacobs peplums were a bit, well, weird.  He showed quite a few garments with odd flappy bits that looked randomly added.  This was especially awkward on his swimwear; bikinis are tough enough to wear, but with hip flaps – uh, yeah, NOOOOOO!!!!

I love the rich look and movement that a good peplum adds to an outfit, and I really love the way you can play with your shape and silhouette.  While there aren’t very many peplum options out there for plus sizes that really rocked my world (again, got some church lady looks going) I can create the same effect on oversized or too-floaty tunics.  I just got a super cute silk tunic/dress that was disappointingly tent-like when I tried it on – but belted over leggings or skinny jeans is fab – the peplum effect emphasizes the smallness of my waist while covering my tummy and bum a bit. 

So give the peplum a try. While I suggest steering clear of the stiff, too short, or too randomly attached versions, there are some great options available at all price points.  Pair a peplum up with a skinny pant or a pencil skirt.  Play with proportion and color, see what you can do with it.  Go ‘head, give it a whirl!

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