Archive for ‘En Vogue’

November 3, 2013

Leggin’ It

Getting a Leg Up!

Generally speaking the skinny pant or legging is one of the toughest looks to wear well for any but the most twig-like among us.  They tend to make us all look a bit like carrots or in my case, an ice cream cone.  But even so, the skinny jean, skinny pant and legging seem to be holding fast to the top of the fashion must-have lists season after season.  So much so that even the most resistant, including wide-legged pant loving me, have succumbed to their ubiquity.   

So yes, everyone is wearing them.  But wearing them well?  Uh….yeah…not so much. 

Usually made with lycra or other nifty stretchy stuff to make them more comfortable, these form-fitting pants tend to lull us into a false sense of confidence regarding fit, and since they make our legs look pretty awesome we can neglect to note that they may not be doing our behinds or tummies any great favors.  Worse yet, as these pants have become more and more mainstreamed most women have drifted away from wearing them with bottom-covering tunics and now wear them with just about anything.  The results can be disastrous.

We have probably all seen a “don’t” example or two.  You know the looks – garments clinging far too tightly to intimate areas; shiny material creating a very odd moiré effect across a generously proportioned bottom; flimsy jersey wretchedly highlighting one’s cellulite or, even worse, being basically transparent wherever it is stretched beyond its relaxed state.  And while a longer top or jacket will hide a few of the main sins, they cannot hide them all!

To make the skinny look work a girl needs to take fabric and construction into careful consideration and style looks to best suit the garment and how it looks on an individual body.  Not all pants are created equal.  And even the most expensive among them can turn on you – just ask Lululemon about transparent yoga pants!

The cut of skinnies and leggings are not forgiving to ones figure, no matter how comfy they may feel.  Construction and fit are crucial.  While some skinnies are actual pants, with seams, darts and curves meant to create structure and shape, others are more like a piece of hosiery – with very little shape or seaming, relying solely on the fabric’s stretch to conform to the body.  If you want to be able to wear a pair of pants with short tops as well as long ones, choose pants with more structure and make sure they aren’t too tight. 

Selecting darker colors and heftier fabrics will also help make a skinny cut more forgiving.  A ponte knit is going to have a little more substance without being too bulky.  While many retailers have ponte offerings, JJill is my favorite for great fabric quality at a moderate price.  They are showing several options in both pants and leggings that are great weight and have cool details like zippered ankles and front seams.    

Fabric changes when stretched over your body so be sure to try things on.  Check to be sure a print or texture doesn’t turn on you when and where you least need it.  This is especially critical with any sort of shine or anything with a stripe or geometric pattern, which can get a bit wonky when they are adorning one’s curves.  On the other hand a well placed color block can be terrifically flattering.  And if you are loving shine but its not loving you try some cleverly placed shine rather than an all over shiny fabric.   I really love the flattering effect of a tuxedo stripe like these options from Vince Camuto and NYDJ.

 To test for sheerness I like to do the “white panty” test.  Try pants or leggings on in a well lit room, while wearing white panties – granny panties are best if you can bring yourself to do it – and see how they look, especially from behind.  Can you see the white coming through?  If so then I would steer clear, go up a size, or at the very least NEVER wear them without a very long top.     

Never forget that true leggings are meant for layering rather than for being worn as full-on pants.  Even if you find a pair with “control” to be truly flattering they really do need to be paired with longer tops, tunics and even skirts.  Eileen Fisher has a pair out that are actually a short skirt and legging in one.  I was skeptical about these babies until I saw a woman wearing them and they looked super chic.  I now own a pair and I am finding they really are the answer when you want the legging look with tops that simply don’t go the distance in terms of bottom coverage. 

There are soooo many options out there from jersey to leather, fast fashion to haute couture.  Selected and styled with care, even the curviest among us can rock the skinny look and show off our best assets without ALL of our…ahem…assets  being on display!

 

 

October 20, 2013

No Sweat!

No Sweat!

 

Recently I have been obsessed with the embellished sweatshirt – and this is quite notable since presently I don’t even own any sort of sweatshirt.  They just haven’t been my thing.  This obsession all started this summer when I saw one on Pinterest, pinned by my very fashion savvy 12 year old niece, Darby.  This wasn’t some basic Hanes sweatshirt emblazoned with a sequined pumpkin or other seasonal or cutesy motif.  No this was a super-chic fashionable sweatshirt – navy blue with sequined sleeves in silver, gold and copper. 

After that first one I began seeing them everywhere, especially as the pre-fall and fall seasons rolled out.  Tarting up a comfy sweatshirt is hardly a new concept and nearly every fall season sees one verion or another, but lately there have been more than a few versions that are fashion far beyond the sequined kittens octogenarians wear at bingo.  It’s tricky to articulate just what combination of color, cut, and embellishment elevate the lowly sweatshirt past cute or fun and right on to chic, but every once in awhile one does with a bang.  I pulled together a sampling of my current favorites – from couture to fast fashion:

  1. This confection from Lanvin, is without question a fashion statement – the color, the cool cut of the raglan sleeve, and the sequins in varying sizes, the whole thing is fab.
  2. This is the one that renewed my interest – its a sweatshirt and doesn’t hide the fact, but it does so in a super cool way.
  3. With the embroidered bell sleeves this particular number is so much more than a sweatshirt. Can’t you just see this with white jeans and a sparkly statement necklace?
  4. I am especially drawn to designs where the embellishment is thoughtfully placed – like the lacy patterning on the shoulders of this Dorthy Perkins Collection piece.
  5. This cutie, in traditional grey jersey graced with lady like pearls, in a cropped cut is…like..totally eighties, and since its from Delia’s its also totally affordable.  

How to wear the look?  Well, clearly these babies are meant to glam-up your Friday casual or weekend looks so don’t kid yourself into thinking they are appropriate for dressy occasions like a cocktail party.  Just as critical as where you wear it is, how you wear it is even more important.  When you are creating an outfit around one of these fancy pieces it’s all about balance

 First off, choose jeans or slouchy boy-friend cut pants, or pair with a maxi skirt for some season transiting fab.  Solid colored bottoms are the safe choice, but if you are feeling adventurous you can absolutely go with a print or texture as well.  Just be sure to balance the visual impact of print and embellishment carefully.  If you want a narrow pant, make sure it is a true pant and not just a jersey legging unless the top is tunic length.  Actually, this advice applies to EVERYONE – Leggings are meant to be worn with longer tops since jersey doesn’t cover as well as you hope it will when it is stretched across even the tiniest bottom!!  

Sweatshirts can be bulky and make you look wider and shorter than you might want so select both the top and your accompanying bottom with fit and the overall silhouette in mind.  If the top has that traditional banded bottom, make sure it fits well (no over stretching or riding up) and hits you in a flattering place.  If you aren’t loving where the band hits you, you may be able to have a tailor remove the band which will be a more forgiving boxy swing silhouette.  

You will want to keep the rest of your accessories balanced and complimentary rather than matchy matchy.  To avoid looking like a Christmas tree keep shoes and bags on the simple side without going too sporty (or it will just look like, well, sweats.)   Select jewelry that doesn’t compete with the embellishment but balances it.  What does that mean?  Well, if you have “fancy” sleeves and a plain body, you don’t need tons of bracelets, but a sparkly bib necklace or pendant might be just the thing.  Conversely, if the embellishment is on the front or all over than leave off on the necklaces but maybe toss on a sparkly cocktail ring for a cheeky pop. 

With winter and the holiday season coming up I am sure you can find quite a few occasions for a tarted-up sweatshirt, I certainly know I can.  Also, before you write this off as a single season wonder, Jason Wu showed a light version with almost floaty embellishment in his Spring 2014 Runway show that was gorgeous.  So if you love this look as much as I do you stay tuned for more opportunities in the months to come.  Now I just need to find the perfect version to add to my own wardrobe!

 

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!

November 23, 2011

Return of the Yeti

Fast and Fur-ious

This season fur – both real and faux – is HUGE; not just in terms of the ubiquitous presence, but in the nearly overwhelming shape and scale of the pieces themselves!  Big, fluffy, longer fibered furs, feathers and shearlings are the name of the game this year and the 70’s glam revival has made vintage inspired fur vests, long coats, chubbies, and trim au courant…again.

Luxury-oriented soul that I am, I love fur every winter, whether it is “in” or not.  I have amassed quite a collection of great fur accessories, several cool vests and coats, a fur trimmed sweater, and even a fur trimmed cape.  Living in Southern California presents me with limited opportunities to really indulge myself, but I take advantage of every chance I get – trips to the mountains and other chilly climes, cold evenings, etc… the second the temperature drops, I am snuggling up!  What can I say?  I am easily tempted by the soft, sensual feel and glamorous vibe.  

Being short and round, many of the big and fluffy styles aren’t all that flattering so finding the right cut and scale is absolutely crucial.  While fun and definitely statement-making, the larger scaled pieces, even in just a fur collar or cuffs on a sweater, can be very overwhelming and quickly go from dramatic to silly looking.  Here is one of those times I have to choose very carefully and edit like mad.  Otherwise I do indeed end up looking like, well, yes… that mythical, shaggy Abominable Snowman creature, the Yeti!

So, how *do* I wear fur?  Well, first off I have become something of a connoisseur of faux furs.  They don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to get it right.  I am not trying to pass it off as real, per se, but I still want it to look and feel luxurious and wear well.   There are some great options out there at all price points – whether you are shopping at the high end with the faux fur specialist Fabulous Furs or somewhere more affordable like HSN, which has a huge selection.   But you do have to choose with care.

One of the most important things I look for in faux fur is the fabrication.  The material needs to be fluid, light and supple – like real fur.  Not just the fibers themselves but the backing and the garment lining as well.  Faux fur with stiff backing is much more challenging to wear, the garments don’t conform to your shape when you need them too, and even a collar can become suddenly intrusive and uncomfortable if it is stiff and unyielding when you wear it.  For example, I fell in love with a short cape recently that looked amazing in the picture online, but in the store I found it to be really stiff, so much so that it stuck out like bat wings when I put it on.  Soooo not good.  I also look for fibers that have some shine with a silky texture, but that aren’t too clingy – if the fibers feel clingy or sticky the garment will look matted quickly.  Instead, I select items where the material feels slightly slippery and has movement, like real fur.        

Being a traditionalist, I tend to stick with the classics – brown, black and chinchilla patterned being my favorites.  I am not as big a fan of the wilder colors and patterns, although this great patterned vest by Tahari is a big exception – the pictures do NOT do it justice, and if I didn’t already have a fur vest…(ahem) or two…this would be in my closet right now.      

To make sure the overall silhouette is right I look for cuts with shape, like this great jacket from Fabulous Furs, with its nipped in waist and angled panels.  Belts can be also be a huge boon; this Rachel Zoe jacket has the dramatic shaggy-textured fur, but the belted waist and slightly shorter length keep the proportions from overwhelming.  This feather chubby gets the proportion right also, by keeping the length a tad on the cropped side so it hits right at the waist where you naturally curve in and keeping the sleeves bracelet length.  If I want a longer piece, I try to make sure it is fluid and light, and select a cut with a fuller skirt or swing line to it so that it drapes a bit and moves but doesn’t look like I am being overwhelmed or weighed down.  When I look at collars or trim I want them dramatic and wide, but again try to keep the scale closer in by keeping the fur in a slightly shorter cut, like in this terrific jacket by Burberry.   In all cases I look at the overall silhouette that is created and make sure the proportions look right – my coat may be big and fluffy, but by emphasizing or creating a waist or elongating and balancing my leg line and other proportions, I will look girl shaped, rather than gorilla shaped 😉 

On the accessory front I have been obsessively hunting for the right evening bag in fur that has as much appeal as Christian Louboutain’s black mink Ball bag from 2010 without killing my bag budget for a full year.  So far no luck, but I keep checking out all of the fur options that are showing this season – lots of cute ones, just not THE one…yet.   As for hats…well I am far too old for the super trendy trapper hat, no matter how cute and ironic they are on 20-somethings, on me they would be simply silly.  Instead I have a cute fur tam that is very glamorous, my snow hat has an adorable fur pom pom on top, and my ear muffs are the best for keeping my ears warm, both cute AND practical – LOVE.

Not ready to go all out on a fur garment?  Then I highly recommend you at least dip your toes in with some trim on a garment or an accessory.  It will add instant luxury and glamour to any outfit.  And who couldn’t do with a little delicious softness to snuggle into?!

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