I was skeptical when I first heard about shaping denim that promises to hold in your stomach and lift your bottom. What would THAT feel like? Spanx with a zipper? Perhaps a sausage casing. Never turning down an opportunity for an improved rear view, your denim testing team tried on several brands. The three brands below scored the highest marks for shape-shifting.
1. Old Navy Dreamer Bootcut Jeans in Midnight wash $34.50 oldnavy.com.
Body Types A, B, and C liked these. The fit is good. They feel comfortable and the front panel held in our tummies. As for the promise of a lifted bottom- not so much. The rear view was attractive nonetheless. Available in petite, tall and plus sizes.
2. Hello! Skinny Jeans Barely Boot Cut in Black Wash $178. skinnyjeansdenim.com.
The Lamborghini of shaping denim has a steep price tag but delivers on the promise of a flatter-looking tummy and a lifted and shapelier bottom. The inseam is sewn slightly forward creating the look of thinner thighs and longer legs. Hello!
Body Types A and B liked the Barely Bootcut
while Type C's straight hips were flattered by the Couture Cut
. We all loved the bulge-free closure at the waist - a sort of toggle instead of a rivet. Available in sizes 0-12.
3. Not Your Daughter's Jeans Tummy Tuck Straight Leg Jeans $118 nordstrom.com.
NYDJ have the highest rises we tried ( right below the navel) so if you have a full and round tummy and bottom then these could be your ticket to a perfect fit. The 'criss-cross' front panel pulled in our tummies. Our bottoms looked lifted. Our thighs looked trimmer and our legs looked longer. NYDJ are definately vanity sized so order a size down as well and keep the one that fits. One complaint: the shiny denims. Since shiny anything amplifies one's size this seems lke bad logic for slimming jeans. It looks a bit tacky to boot. Available in petite and plus sizes.
PS : Also investigate CJ by Cookie Johnson Jeans $178 nordstrom.com
. They did not arrive in time for each of us to try them. Frankly, we had all collapsed in a heap and were begging for mercy (and chocolate).
Why does premium denim cost so much? A friend who has worked on the development of two very successful jeans lines explained the cost to me like this: the sourcing and development of just the right weight denim, just the right wash and finish, and the endless fittings to refine the fit before the jeans are produced is an expensive process. Should they be this expensive at retail? Probably not -and you are also paying for their ad campaigns. What premium brands do offer is tailoring- a precise and streamlined fit through the legs and bottom that cheaper brands often just don't. The denim is better quality and with that comes the right ratio of lycra to cotton. Too much built-in stretch and the jeans bag out in the seat and at the knees. It's like shoes. Spend as much as you can to have at least one pair that makes a killer impression whenever or however you wear them. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we were after flattering and democratic fit.
And while you consider buying a high priced pair I've also included THE BEST CHEAP JEANS I HAVE FOUND!
1. J Brand 805 MId-Rise Straight Leg in Oyster Wash $174 jbrandjeans.com
.The leg opening is 2" wider to the knee and they flattered Body Types A, B and C. Good for curvy girls who want a straight look but with the fuller leg of a traditional bootcut. Very nice rear view.
2.Paige Premium Denim 'Hidden Hills' in McKinley Wash $189 nordstrom.com.
Just the right stretch. We all liked the fit. Our legs looked longer and leaner and our bottoms were flattered.
a mid-rise. Types B and C liked these for the leg fit.
4.THE BEST DENIM DEAL AROUND! Old Navy The Flirt Mid-Rise Bootcut $34.50 oldnavy.com.
Very good fit and flattering for Body Types A, B and C. Reads more straight cut than bootcut with a full leg opening. Nice denim and just a bit of stretch to keep it's shape. Available in petite, tall and plus.
Also good: Old Navy Sweetheart Bootcut for Body Types A, B, and C.
Yves St. Laurent once said "I wish I had invented blue jeans". Me too, Monsieur St. Laurent. A great-fitting pair of jeans is a sartorial magic bullet.
Inspired by the many jeans-related questions recently sent to this site, denim is clearly on your minds as well. So your stylist decided it was time for some reconaissance. I enlisted (dragooned) two of my assistants to accompany me on my denim quest. For readers of Style Evolution and The Pocket Stylist, we three represent Body Types A , B and C. For the uninitiated:
A= small shoulders and a small waist with a full, round bottom and full thighs.
B= shoulders the same width as hips with a defined waist.
C=shoulders the same width or broader than hips with a straight waist.
The criteria: NO low-rise anything. Too dated. And while those super high-rise looks with an above the belly-button waist and a sprayed on fit may look new (in an 80's Pat Benatar Love Is A Battlefield kind of way) they only work on reed-thin PYT's. The rest of us should not kid ourselves. We chose only mid-rise or (modern-looking) high-rise styles with contoured waists for the most democratic and figure-flattering fit in bootcut and straight leg openings. We looked at styles in a range of prices from premium (above $100)
to premium looks ( below $100). And we tried to find the best looks and fit offered in petite, tall, and plus.
Important: No nasty light washes- they always draw the eye to an unflattering location. No obvious whiskering, rips or any faux distress-that will happen with wear. Only dark, clean-as-a-whistle finishes made it into our piles. The ultimate trick is finding the right fit. And with fit there is no free pass. You must slog it out in the dressing room or in my preferred location, my bedroom with a pile of mail pouches and UPS boxes filled with options. The advantage? Seeing your various parts in real light, in a distortion free mirror as you sit, walk, deep-knee bend and plie your way to the right fit. And you can try those jeans with different heel heights, and with the jackets, sweaters and more that you wear most.
Critical: an attractive rear view.
Here are our first four top finds:
1. 7 For All Mankind High Waist Boot Cut in Mercer wash $155. bloomingdales.com.
We all liked the fit. They flattered the full hips and thighs of Type A, the curvy hips of Type B and made Type C's straight hips look curvier.
2. J Crew Bootcut Premium Rinse Wash $98 jcrew.com.
Good for Type B's and C's alike. The slight bootcut leg has just enough ease for curvy hips and fuller bottoms. Great wash and finish for the price.
J Crew offers tall and petite as well in many styles.
3. Levis Capital E Boyfriend Jeans $99.90 (on sale) levistore.com. A flattering cut that is not too baggy. Best on Types B and C.
Fueled by espresso we tried on several more styles from Levis. Here's what we liked:
Levis Eco mid-rise 553 $69.50. Types A, B, and C liked these. Boot Cut 515 $44. The fuller leg opening was especially flattering for Type A and B. They looked too fully cut for Type C's straight hips. Nice rear view.
Available in petite.
Perfectly Slimming 512 $44. Type A and B liked these. They offer a flattering line for fuller hips and thighs. Available in plus and petite.
4. J Brand Scarlett Curvy Bootcut in ink wash $158 jbrand.com.
We all liked the fit of these. With just the right amount of stretch ( 2% lycra) they are very flattering. No pocket hoo-haw and a very nice rear view.
Part 2 tomorrow....
It's not often that the silhouette-improving benefits of tailoring combine with a fabric as soft and comfortable as a favorite sweatshirt. That is until the gray cotton-jersey boyfriend jacket appeared on the scene last fall. Pre- Spring collections are featuring more jersey than ever making this an easy-to-find and ideal Buy Now Wear Now
There is a stylish point/counterpoint at work here. Point: the body definition of menswear tailoring. And honestly, who doesn't look better with some structure on her corpus? Counterpoint: a fabric that makes a look effortless. But don't limit your jacket's potential. While it's true she looks great with dark, simple jeans she is also a star with trousers and pencil skirts in wool now and silk later.
(L -R) 3.1 Philip Lim jersey double breasted jacket with twisted cuffs $425 on lagarconne.com. Club Monaco Alex jersey boyfriend jacket $229. For store info. or personal shopping go to clubmonaco.com. See By Chloe cropped cotton-jersey jacket $240 on netaporter.com.
A NOTE ABOUT CROPPED JACKET FIT: This is a proportion made for the new highwaisted pants and skirts.
Now, below are two good buys with a few style caveats:
Left: At $98 this jacket from Boston Proper could be worth a try. It is described as having a shaped waist and a skimming fit. Promising but few looks transmit Cougartown or Bust like wearing your jacket with a 'so-four-years-ago' girly top and faux distressed jeans. Breast augmentation and collagen lips sold separately. bostonproper.com.
Right: This J Jill jacket is nice in person. Your stylist has handled the merch. as the saying goes.
It's $79 and available in Misses, Petites and Womens sizes.
A NOTE ABOUT FIT: J Jill sizing can be generous so order two sizes and keep the one that fits. Another tip: a little tailoring through the sides and down the sleeves will work wonders. Consider shortening the sleeves to 3/4 length for a bit of new. jjill.com.
Last fall I posted an item about the eternal grooviness of the Breton tee (Nov.3 /Ready to Wear). The Breton 'look' transcends trends and that's why designers return to the idea just about every season. File the Breton under One Hundred Percent Perfect
as it is an ideal Buy Now Wear Now piece
Keep the look sophisticated rather than preppy (aging for over 30's) or 'Ahoy Sailor
' by choosing a current riff on offer from resort and early spring collections. It could be as simple as the addition of buttons at the cuff, a design overlayed on the stripes, an interesting sash effect at the hem, or some ornamention on the lapel of a cardigan that adds that punch of new. Wear one now under a blazer with dark jeans or black pants and boots for graphic good looks and later with white jeans or a pair of the silky trousers that were on many spring runways.
Of course, there is no replacing the appeal of the original corded cotton Meridien by Saint James (#6)
but here's a note about fit: it's boxy and ideal for girls who love loose volume on the top paired with something slim on the bottom. For waist definition, try hitching just the center front into your waistband (to create a focal point) with a belt and leave the back untucked.
1. A tres femme take on the Breton - Sonia by Sonia Rykiel $255 netaporter.com. 2. Great buy with a ballet neck. Aerie by American Eagle $19.50 ae.com. 3. DKNY sweater avail. in March on dkny.com 4. Club Monaco black and white Jessica sweater $79. For store info. or personal shopping clubmonaco.com.
One of the most intriguing things about the spring collections was the use of unexpected fabrics to reinvent the simplest pieces like Phillip Lim's riff on a classic button down shirt (left)
and one of the season's most coveted items -the black leather t-shirt (right)-
designed by Phoebe Philo at Celine. Celine was a standout all around for a sophisticated collection of clean-lined sportswear -something that has been in short supply during the 'aughties' preference for frill, froth and stripper wear.
I predict that there will be less expensive versions to come at the fast fashion level which is good news for our wardrobe budgets. The look comes off best when the leather is lightweight enough to tuck into a waistband with a smooth result like the skirt pictured below. Boxier cuts worn untucked - like shirt jackets- should be paired with slim, straight-cut bottoms.
For more of both collections have a look on style.com
It had to happen. The fashion pendulum has swung from the over-the-top embellishments of the 'aughties' to something pared down and more utilitarian in spirit. Unadorned military jackets were everywhere on the spring runways replacing those band leader appliques and brassy buttons of the last few seasons. That's good news for your wardrobe RIGHT NOW. As resort and early spring deliveries replace the sale racks look for this ageless and sophisticated trend for a Buy Now Wear Now LOOK CHANGER. Works now as a layering piece in the chill of January (anything to rev up a turtleneck and jeans or a wool skirt and tights) and as a go-everywhere outerwear piece when the weather warms up. (Although this is as good as a winter coat for you lucky L.A. girls).
Designers showed a range of proportions from longer length safari-inspired styles to slouchy field jackets, sharp lined silhouettes inspired by dress uniforms or looks that are cropped, boxy and inspired by WW II so keep a look out for your best shape and proportion.
1. Silk safari from Celine. 2. Marc Jacob's riff on an officer's jacket. Now, anything that Marc does will inspire many imitations. TIP: Notice the high waist placement of the belt on the jacket. Easy to buy a thin belt now and change up a jacket you already own in this shape. 3. The shirt jacket from Balmain ( an obscenely expensive and much-imitated collection and honestly, a version of this won't be hard to find for less).
4. Cropped and 40's-chic from 3.1 Philip Lim.
For more from these collections have a look on style.com.
Real girls are in fashion - at least this month. Yesterday's New York Times Thursday Styles featured a front page piece about recent fashion magazine stories with plus-sized models. If you read Glamour
you have seen pictures of Crystal Renn (the subject of the Times article) a very gorgeous size 12. The current fashion pages of V
Magazine feature Crystal and other plus-sized beauties in their fashion pages this month. So all of this begs the question are these just one offs? What do women really want to look at in fashion magazines? Could fashion's aesthetic be changing to depict a range of bodies? What do you think?
If you are a full fashioned beauty yourself, here's a link to the current issue of Lucky and the plus-sized clothing web sites they love. This came to me by way of my friend Lisa Dolan the owner of
Leelee's Valise one of the sites included in the lineup. I feautured Leelees in my book Style Evolution as one of my favorite resources for curvy girls.
So many of you have written to me asking about sophisticated looking options for petites.
Frankly, it's a real drag for special sizes in general. I can't figure out if there seems to be less range because the mass demand isn't there or if for cost cutting measures manufacturers stop producing special sizes altogether.
Your best bet is online shopping. For a more sophisticated look seek out the right fit but also designs that reference and tweak ideas from top European and American designers. And then it's a case of cherry picking the best from the brands available. Some of the best looking petite pieces I've seen are available on line at J.Crew. Their designs often pick up on ideas straight from the runway from houses like Lanvin. Their translations look modern: ruffles done in a wearable way or groovy takes on outerwear in unexpected fabrics. Try them to add in a blouse for a hit of color and currency. For pants,the Favorite Fit offers the highest rise and in fabrics like super 120 wools for the kind of basic that can anchor your look in black and navy and neutrals alike. Tailored suit jackets are also clean lined and versatile and the fit is reliable.
Talbot's stores ( as well as on-line) offer current looking petite pants with a very reliable fit. My mother-in-law ( who is tiny) swears by them. Since Talbot's has undergone a change in design direction they are now including pieces in every collection that offer updated shapes and proportions. Ann Taylor while still trying to work out their new design direction also includes a bigger selection of petites both in store and on-line. My experience with the fit for pants, jeans, jackets has been good. Banana Republic and Gap ( for jeans) are alway worth a look.
Scour department store websites. Bloomingdales offers petites in their private label Sutton Studio along with a pretty good selection from lines like Lauren Ralph Lauren. Nordstrom too.
For discount buys, Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl's offers select styles in petites. A note about this line: I have never been wowed by the quality but the references are taken right from Vera Wang Collection as well as from her mid-priced line Lavendar. Cherry picking the odd coat, cardigan or skirt can work (and right now it's all on sale).
Already had your fill of wool scarves? Even girls in the deep south have had to wrap themselves up to keep warm during the cold snap of the past few weeks.
What about wearing a scarf as you would a necklace? Tie it differently or buy a new scarf that will work with sweaters now and tees later. Lighter weight scarves in silk, sheer and gauzy cashmere or wool or combinations of woven cottons will twist and cowl and drape to suit your mood. I chose the scarves below because they offer color, texture and pattern but they also tap into key spring trends so they'll have staying power in your wardrobe. I also love the way they are tied. Good ideas.
1. Self explanatory way to tap into the ongoing mania for all things ruffles. Look for lighter weight versions or go for white - one of THE colors for spring/summer and you can max out the wear until the last chilly days of spring. Loop it at your neck to add texture and 'current' to an outfit in one stroke. bloomingdales.com. 2. Not only a great combo of a colorful and timeless paisley print but this silk beauty is tied in an easy cowl that fills in as necklace cum scarf. Dandy as a head scarf to disguise filthy hair days. anthropologie.com 3.The Americana theme continues for spring/summer and that means checks and plaids all over the place. I like the color balance of this style. Wear it now with a gray sweater knowing how great it will look with an easy sweatshirt top, any tee and cardy combo, or spring's number one jacket - anything utility/military in khaki. bloomingdales.com.
4. Pattern mixing and a mash-up of ethnic prints was seen all over the spring runways. This boho deluxe number will work all year. Want less yellow and more russett and navy for now?
Twist your scarf up like a twizzler.
Hold the ends of the scarf one in each hand.
Twist it up tightly and wrap it around your neck placing the ends to the back and then bringing them around to the front.
Tie the ends to off to one side.