It all started in Paris. Melody Rodgers was on a buying trip for her namesake collection when she discovered a stack of nine perfect gold bangles. Feather light with a flexible pull-apart design the bracelets fastened with a click. Best of all the fit was close to the wrist. No sliding down onto the hand.
Melody has reproduced the bangles' fit down to the last detail. Available in yellow, rose, and white gold vermeil and gunmetal, a stack of three looks parfait and oh so chic.
Set of three Perfect Fit Bangles $435 melodyrodgers.com.
It's not that I don't like a colorful bag. A pop of jewel toned satin is fun for the holidays. But then what? A few years ago I indulged in a gorgeous crimson clutch but alas, she's a one trick pony. I'll bring her out for a holiday party next week but then she'll be tucked away in her felt pouch waiting for next year. In this economy, it makes sense to buy a versatile bag with enough star power for an evening out all winter long.Texture, mixed leathers, exotic skins, and serious hardware are all versatile looks with staying power.
1.Candy Bag ( Boy, I'll say. Good enough to lick and at $945 it is a seasonless, ageless, timeless INVESTMENT Capital I . Santa are you listening?? clarakasavina.com. 2. Metallic Tweed Charmed Mini Bag $198 j.crew.com. 3. Moonscape Clutch $88 frenchconnection.com. 4. Crushed Glitter Minaudiere $49.50 also at j.crew.com. 5. Stud Fling Clutch by Rebecca Minkoff $275 intermixonline.com. 6. Street Level Bag $69.00 piperlime.com.
Mixed metals and mixed materials define the season's statement necklaces. Alber Elbaz of Lanvin was in front of the trend when he introduced strands of pearls wrapped in ribbon. Mixed media looks include combinations of stones, metals, embroidery, chains and ribbon. Part estate jewlery and Miss Haversham meets 80's tough mixed with global inspirations laced with a little deco and a few machine age intimations. It's a magpie mix and it looks great. Just about all you need to make last year's LBD - or any outfit -look newer.
1. Tuleste Market Ball and Chain necklace $150 piperlime.com. 2. Oscar de la Renta Embellished Bib Necklace $890 saks.com. 3. Kenneth Jay Lane Gunmetal Leaf Necklace ( perfect for layering more than one) $137.50 piperlime.com. 4. Lee Angel Chain Bow Necklace $145 intermixonline.com. 5. Crystal Pendant ( great scale for petites) $52 bananarepublic.com.
It can be as simple as wearing a pair of important looking cuffs to make an LBD or a sweater and whatever bottom look chic, grownup and completely pulled together. I love pictures of the fashion doyenne Diana Vreeland in her matching Kenneth Jay Lane Maltese Cross cuffs - one on each wrist. Or a combination of metals and scale as seen on the Bottega Veneta fall 2009 runway looks especially polished and new.
A big and obviously fake ( but good quality) cocktail ring in combination with a cuff is a look that's cool and effortless.
1. Roxanne Assoulin for Lee Angel Crystal Cluster Cuff $170 on leeangel.com. 2. Clara Kasavina brass and crystal ring $100. clarakasavina.com. 3. Gold and crystal ivy ring $225 alexisbittar.com. 4. KARA by Kara Ross snake cuff $250 on saks.com. 5. Trifecta ring $65 jcrew.com.
6. Crystal Encrusted Coctail Ring $175 alexisbittar.com. 7. Melinda Maria Pod Ring $150 intermixonline.com. 8. Silver hinge cuff $375 alexisbittar.com. 9. Braided Jeweled Cuffs $230 each clarakasavina.com.
With the Fall and Holiday seasons' passion for lady-like dressing comes confusion. How much lady in ladylike looks right? Especially for those of us who are over 40. What looks matronly instead of chic?
First, I'l describe what looks a bit too keen. A few evenings ago I was waiting for my table at
The Standard (new, noisy, hot restaurant in the Meatpacking District). Remarkably, amidst all the women who still insist on dressing like Carrie Bradshaw, I saw her. Let's call her La Ruffle. She was wearing a terrific dark, plum colored coat with a ribbon-candy-like ruffle down the front. Chic, graphic and a statement maker. Then she removed her coat to reveal a more insistent passion for the ruffle trend in the low-cut and ruffled neckline of a lavender blouse tucked into a black skirt with an asymmetric ruffle across the front. The skirt was a beauty but who could see clear of the combo-platter of ruffage? It gets better. Her waist was cinched by a metallic ruffled belt. She was shod in 6 inch black pumps (Louboutin natch) with a ruffle detail at the toe and in her hand... wait for it.... a clutch adorned with a large ruffled florette. Ladies, you can not make up an outfit like this. This got me thinking about some quick and handy rules for ruffle wearing. What kind of ruffles look cool in a Dandyish masculine/feminine way? Or in a understated-sexy Lanvin way? How does one avoid a Madame Secretary look? So here are a few seasonal suggestions in time for holiday dressing. For every great look there is a point and counterpoint relationship. The point: one ruffled piece per outfit. The counterpoint: the more femmy and ruffly a piece then the more clean lined and tailored the pieces that make her acquaintance must be. Let's talk the classic combination of ruffled on top and tailored on the bottom.
1. A jacket like this is terrific in wool or velvet. This one is the boiled wool Wrapped-In-Ruffles jacket from anthropology.com $128. 2. Your blouse doesn't have to be white or ivory but few things are more forever than investing in a good one. This is from 3.1 Philip Lim at bergdorfgoodman.com and at $450 is a pricey but truly ageless twist on a white shirt.The point collar and lacing at the wrists make it a perfect foil for tailored pants.3. This blouse from anntaylor.com is $70 and a nice accent under a jacket or paired on it's own with a slim skirt in wool, velvet, tweed. Depends where you are going. 4. The striped suit pant from BR Monogram is $132 and has the right slim 'tuxedo' trouser proportion for a ruffled and fitted jacket. 5. An easier and wider leg trouser works as well with a ruffled blouse. This is also BR Monogram for $152. Both found on bananarepublic.com. 6. The Martey skirt from Diane von Furstenberg is $245 on bloomingdales.com. It has seamed panels and a wider waistband for shape and definition. Perfect with any of the tops. For holiday parties, add saucy shoes, a cocktail ring and a clutch. Shake and stir.
Let's talk about some ruffle dont's. Each of my picks are based on looks I've seen recently on women over 40.
1. Small ground prints or ditsy florals combined with ruffles take on a faux vintage, Granny Takes A Trip irony that is lost entirely when worn by ladies over 30.
2.Plaid and ruffles? Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, Little House on The Prairie and Deadwood come to mind. Leave this look to girls in their teens and twenties.
4. Nothing says " Waitress!" like a blouse worn shirt tail hem out over black pants. Want to wear your ruffle shirt untucked? Look for a style that is longer and finished specifically to achieve the right look.
5. Under a cardigan (okay this is a bow blouse but same difference. How could I pass up this horror show?). Choose a cardy with enough weight so that your blouse doesn't read through the knit and turning your torso into a crumpled mess. A firmer knit and a belt at the waist give a cardy a tailored jacket appeal worn over a statement blouse. Also choose pants that are tailored and that have a smooth fit - with anything you wear.
This season's crop of crepe soles and wooden stack heels give a strong shaped shoe a practical edge. As in walkable. Comfortable and cool -looking.
Prada has retooled their peep toe pump with a crepe platform. The market is filled with suede styles that look like jacked-up riffs on ski booties and desert boots. Even the clog, regulation footwear of Earth Mothers everywhere, has morphed into a very groovy walking bootie ( and tall boot too) at NYC's No. 6.
Robert Clergerie's elegantly shaped slouch boot offers just a slice of crepe for stylish and solid footing.
LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Diane von Furstenberg Java suede boot $299 couturezappos.com 2. Nine West Juma $99 ninewest.com 3. No. 6 5" Aviator shearling and leather bootie $355 at no6store.com 4. Robert Clergerie Zares boot $689 couturezappos.com 5. Prada crepe sole platform cut out $595 barneys.com 6.Colin Stuart faux shearling bootie $99 victoria'ssecret.com.
The men's original, heavy cotton Saint James 'Meridien' sailor shirt has been made in Saint James, France since 1889. The first cross-dressing success story I can think of is the young Coco Chanel photographed on the beach in Deuville wearing this staple of hard working French fisherman. She looked tres chic, naturellement. Coco's rule- breaking style in her Breton sailor top is faithfully recreated in the movie Coco Before Chanel.
But then there was the gamine Jean Seberg in the film Breathless and Edie Sedgewick photographed in Andy Warhol's Factory in a Breton shirt and black tights. The little top is a blue chip standard for ease and a detache cool that is distinctly French and fashion designers can't resist revisiting the graphic simplicity of the look. Forget the American prep and yachting connotations and wear a Breton-inspired tee or sweater with black pants and boots or jeans and flats. It is the perfect ingredient for taking the stuffy out of any look- offering the perfect punchy graphic under a leather jacket or blazer.
A note about how to wear the original Saint James. It's cut is boxy and ideal for girls who love loose volume on the top and a slim bottom. For waist definition, try hitching just the center front into your waistband with a belt and leave the back untucked.
LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Big bad shoulders Breton from the Balmain Fall 2009 runway on style.com. 2. The original Saint James Meridien available on saintjames-usa.com and brittanyboutique.com 3. Cashmere sweater from Lutz & Patmos on vivre.com. 4. Button cuffs tweak the look at j.crew.com.
I've only just come around to purple. It's always made me think of Prince's jumpsuits, the packaging for Elizabeth Tailor fragrances and the 80's mania for all things jewel toned. But this season's purple spectrum is nothing if not sophisticated and includes shades like rich raisin, dark concord grape and deepest aubergine. Dark purple is understated. Nothing stagey about it and it provides just the right spark for tried and true colors like gray, camel, red, and navy. Black gets a real boost from purple.
If you look great in purple - meaning you are a winter in Color Me Beautiful parlance- then adding a dark purple jacket or coat to your wardrobe gives you a piece that will complete looks for day and night but I like it best as an accent color. Instead of more black or navy, consider purple for a roomy bag for day, for a combination of opaques and shoes, for gloves. Try on the glint of a purple and metal cuff and carry an exotic ( or faux) purple clutch combined with your LBD for the holiday parties ahead.
Some of this gear is pricey and so- as always- borrow good ideas from the top and interpret as you will at your price range...
1.Akris Fall 2009 runway on style.com. 2. Janis Savitt chain and colored stones necklace from saks.com. 3.Croco-embossed leather cuff KARA by Kara Ross on vivre.com. 4 Marc by Marc Jacobs bag on couturezappos.com. 5. Ruffle pump in raisin from anntaylor.com. 6. Bottega Veneta Fall 2009 runway on style.com. 7. Eggplant python clutch by Sang A. on vivre.com. 8. Kalei pumps on zappos.com.
Sometimes a girl just can not stand the idea of buying yet another black wool coat. But how to satisfy a tight budget and fuse practicality with some color? Sure, those neon colors on the runway at Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors are plenty photogenic but they are also a very disposable income fad. Unless you have a budget for lots of outerwear options, skip the 80's-inspired safety colors.
I am a big fan of the red coat. Whether in a shade of deep claret, a true scarlet, or a luscious tomato- the color red mixes effortlessly with shades of brown, camel, charcoal, aubergine, navy, and of course, black. Choose the right red coat as you would the right red lipstick. What makes your complexion glow?
The coat on the far left by Dries van Noten is a great role model for finding a simple trench-inspired coat or a single breasted style in a rich wine red (in your price range). Add a brown belt at the waist for instant chic. Whether you tap into the military trend (which never goes out of style), go for a minimalist funnel neck or a take on a redingote, you can not miss with red.
Left to right: Dries van Noten (for more Dries van Noten Fall 2009 looks log on to style.com).
Military-inspired d.b. coat by Steve by Searle bloomingdales.com. Funnel neck d.b. coat by DKNY at dkny.com.Orange-red 3/4 pea coat by Lener and double breasted redingote-style by DKNY Coats are both at bloomingdales.com.
One fundamental of fashion- a great silhouette begins at the shoulders. How a shoulder is cut defines a tailored piece of clothing like a jacket or coat. Armholes too. In dressmaking the armhole is carefully considered. Too tight and the piece will strain and crease across the shoulders ( front and back). A too tight sleeve also causes the dreaded sausage arm. An armhole that is cut too big and a sleeve that is too wide creates baggage under the armpit and instantly adds visual pounds. Another fashion fundamental- bad fit equals style implosion.
So when restyling a jacket start with something that fits you reasonably well. Recutting an armhole or refashioning a shoulder is expensive and the results can be disappointing.
Changing a jacket or coat collar from a shape like Peter Pan, for example, to a smaller point collar can transform the look from retro to modern. Remove a collar altogether for a clean, minimalist line. Narrowing a too wide lapel to a current-looking width or shortening sleeves to a 3/4 length are common requests and will not cost a lot. I recently took a black tux style jacket from 3 years ago ( at least) to my tailor for a sleeve removal. He finished the armholes beautifully and suggested that he narrow the lapels - just a tick- for balance. The result is a new jacket/vest for under $75.
Wide leg pants languishing in your closet? It is easy for a tailor to narrow the leg to an au courant stovepipe line. What about that poker straight skirt ( with the weird length)? Restyling a straight skirt to a pencil shape is easy. The success of the pencil is the subtle narrowing at the hem that gives it that essential curve.
A sack shape dress to a sheath? In general, an easy fix. An unheard of sale on designer jeans but the available sizes are too big? Go ahead. A tailor can style them to fit.
Shopping your closet can be better than bargain hunting. Hit the attic. It could be a treasure hunt. If you don't have a good tailor it is time to find one.