Spring has officially arrived and with it the promise of sunny days, warmer temperatures and less clothing. It's the prospect of wearing less clothing that throws me into a seasonal tailspin. Currently, my corpus is paler than an anaconda's underbelly. I don't go in for commercial spray tans. The all-angles jet spraying makes me feel like a car in for a seasonal detailing. No, I prefer a DIY at-home tan. Determined to acheive a golden faux glow (and to wear a sleeveless top to a drinks party this past weekend ) I trawled through my basket of self-tanners priced from spendy to thrify. I freely admit that I am a big self-tanning sucker who is always questing for the newest in orange-free fake tanning formulas. I'll try any product as long as it doesn't make me bleed or cry or turn me into a creamsicle.
Here are some highlights from my stash and some new finds too:
Glow Fusion $45 is neither stinky nor streaky. It takes a few applications and a little time to build your glow but for the truly pale and freckled it looks very natural.
Sevin Nyne $35 was created by Hollywood tanning expert Lorit Simon and one of her clients actress/recidivist Lindsay Lohan. Now there is a girl who knows her way around a fake tan I thought as I read that the product promised to deliver "a kiss of color instantly' as it turned darker over the usual four hours. It delivered. My pasty hyde looks naturally sun-kissed in two applications and the formula smells like caramel instead of the usual stink. Thanks Lilo! Both sold at sephora.com.
Scott Barnes Body Bling Original $38 at skinterra contains a bronzer so you can see if you are applying an even, streak-free tan. My olive-skinned gilrfriend looks great with a little Body Bling to amp her natural skin tone. If you are lighter than a washer load of whites you will end up looking orange.
Watch SB's application demo on youtube.
Strike Gold Self-Tanning Lotion With Bronzer $15 ( 2 for $20!) let's you see how you are applying the cream to aid in a streak-free finish. A girlfriend (a nubian goddess complaining about her ashy skin) tried this and loved the boost it gave her natural coco color. I'll attest to it's imparting natural-looking color to skin as pale as wallpaper paste. bathandbodyworks.com
Jemma Kidd Year Round Body Glow $28 is a deliciously fragranced bronzer to apply for the day and then shower off. No cooking time required. It has a lovely creamy texture that's easy to apply. Available at Target stores and at target.com.
Palmers Sunless Tanner & Instant Bronzer with SPF 15 $ 8.99 brought to you by the cocoa butter specialists is very moisturizing and perfect for a top-to-toe bronzing. Wear it straight onto the beach and let it cook a bit before reapplying sunscreen.
Don't forget to give your skin a complete exfoliation. I like St. Ives Timeless Skin Daily Micro-Dermabrasion $4.99 followed by lashings of a heavy moisturizer to prep my skin for the tanning ahead. Both sold at drugstore.com.
East meets West and points in-between with this spring's abundance of graphic prints. Indonesian batiks and Uzbheki ikats comingle with Kenyan tribal patterns that mix it up with Chinese florals. Central to this mash-up of cultures and color is the art of pattern mixing and nowhere was the look more vibrant than at Dries Van Noten
and Duro Olowu
whose collections offer a master class in how it's done.
The old rules say that when you combine two or three different prints in one outfit the colors and scale of each must be the same. Wearing an outsized plaid with a tiny floral print will look jangly. A classic combination might combine a stripe of two colors with a floral of the same two colors plus a third color as an accent. But that's the kind of look that can read as a bit pre-coordinated.
So, let's take on the new rules which say mix with abandon and forget about the old rules- but this enthusiasm should come with a warning label. I have seen a few attempts at pattern mixing lately that looked, well, crazy. If you love the look and want to give it a try with your own things here are tips for mixing prints to look confident, not certifiable:
Two images of Dries Van Noten's
spring runway (from style.com
). On the left:
the unifying color is black but the ivory in the jacket is also visible in the black leaves on the pants. Both pieces have pattern placed on the diagonal so although the scale of the jacket is a bit larger, the mix is harmonious.
On the right: The quick take- the blouse appears hot and yellow and the skirt appears cool and blue. But each has the unifying- and visible- colors blue, yellow, red and black. The scale of both prints is the same so the mixture of horizontal and vertical prints looks fluid.
These two looks from Duro Olowu are a beautiful blend of prints that at first glance seem unrelated.
Left: The top and bottom share a bright white ground. They also have the same scale and a similarly graphic vertical pattern. Although the print on the sleeves has different colors it shares the same scale so the look gels.
Right: What unifies these two pieces is the scale of the prints, plain and simple. That each print has only two colors further pulls the patterns together.
Now have a look at your spring and summer prints. Look for similar scale and for the same visible colors between pieces and then have some fun. I have often combined two pieces that have only a white background in common. That's an easy place to start.
Stores and catalogues are filled with the season's natural shades. And while white, ecru and khaki are no-brainers what about these 'off pastels' -brownish pinks, grayish blues and washed out mints that remind me of the makeup palettes you get when you spend $50 at Clinique.
Lots of you have sent questions asking how to wear the season's naturals that I call beigebrownypinkishgraypalebluemintygreenandalittleyellow. Does it look best when you wear all one color? Or is it better to mix natural colors in one outfit? So pictured below are four ways to think about wearing pale tones either solo or in combinations that won't look bland. All runway images from style.com.
WEARING ONE COLOR
Combining smooth fabrics with a piece that has surface interest is a sure way to avoid monotony in a monochromatic look. Fabrics that are crinkled, crumpled, ruched, draped, and folded like origami are out there in all price ranges. Ruffled edges -especially if they look hacked by scissors, frayed edges, and textured knits do the trick as well.
Jil Sander designer Raf Simons said he was inspired by landscapes for spring. His ecru sheath combines a textural mix of sheer and opaque patches - perhaps inspired by an aerial view.
Clean lines combine with the raised texture of this Lanvin coat. Note the accessories: a soft and peachy shade looks sugar-free worn with tough, burnished metal chain necklaces.
Donna Karan's show notes said that she was inspired by the wind. Wind or not the rippled texture and frayed edges of her steel gray jacket create a curvy peplum effect.
Flounced pieces worn layered like Narcisso Rodriguez's jacket and top create drape and texture in a clean- lined white suit.
COMBINE MATTE AND SHINE
Lanvin again for a tonal mix of a matte top and a skirt with shine and drape.
Crinkled cotton lends texture to this Ann Taylor
jacket - an ideal foil for a shiney pant or skirt.
sheeny silk linen pull-on pant for an instant look changer with a jacket.
WEAR ACCESSORIES WITH TEXTURE AND A LITTLE BIT OF TOUGH
Burnished metals, rough stones like agate, neutral python shoes and bags, shoes in camel, saddle, or brown keep soft colors from looking either twee or boring.
Doo-Ri crinkled silk dress - just the kind of shaped but potentially blah look that is an ideal canvas for accessories.
Camilla James' Proud Mary Necklace combines crystals, agate and mixed metals. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burnished silver bracelets at Club Monaco stores.
ADD POPS OF WARM COLOR
Salmon and coral boosts gray tones. Yellow, coral and warm saddle brown accessories break up an expanse of pale or neutral.
Donna Karan, and three images from Fendi.
As the prevailing winds of fashion blow hot for chic seventies-inspired sportswear, the relaunch of the Equipment
line of silk button-down shirts seems right on time. The soft blouse was a seventies wardrobe staple. Think the kind of blouse that every girl tucked into her Calvins or that Faye Dunaway
wore in Network
. Nicholas Ghesquiere of Balanciaga recently touted the value of the cream colored silk 'Bourgeoise' blouse as a necessity in every modern woman's wardrobe. I am with him. Good bye to the frou frou top and bonjour to soft tailoring.
An Ideal transitional piece in ivory or white to wear now with wool and in a month with the lighter weight fabrics of spring. Choose a skim fit so your blouse will look great tucked into slouchy pants and higher waists. Pictures above: Stella McCartney
S/S 2010 on style.com.
Below L to R:
Who doesn't want to look like a fashion clairvoyant?
Few things are more satisfying than being ahead of the pack. There may be a scant twenty days (and counting) until spring arrives officially, but there will be plenty of cold days ahead. Here are a few ideas straight from the NY and Milan Fall/Winter 2010 runways that can resuscitate things you may have languishing in your closet. All images below from style.com.
WIDE LEG PANTS
After seasons of mostly skinny, skinny pants - wide-legged Hepburn pants have made a return. We can thank Phoebe Philo and her inspired spring collection for Celine for starting the momentum. Pull out any wide legs you've had packed away and be admired for your fashion prescience. STYLING TIP: Spring's crop of soft blouses are the perfect foil for a slouchy trouser. Left to Right: Carlina Herrera and Richard Chai Love.
Dolce and Gabbana closed their show with dozens of girls marching en masse down the runway wearing one impeccably cut jacket after another in single breasted, double breasted, two buttons, three buttons, long and cropped styles. The unmistakable message: tailoring is back. So pull out your jackets. Or If you shop for something new invest in a truly great black tux-inspired jacket in a lightweight seasonless wool. Wear it now and look forward to fall knowing you'll have the perfect wardrobing piece in place. Left to right: Dolce and Gabbana, Vera Wang, Helmut Lang.
Because what goes up (and up and up) will inevitably come down, skirt lengths on many runways were longer. For spring, both Marc Jacobs and Dolce and Gabbana started the southward hemline migration. Marc Jacob's fall runway lineup featured several A-line skirts at just-below-the-knee and also in a longer, stricter mid-calf length. The economy-driven message was loud and clear. Less trying too hard. Less bling and more just plain wearable clothing. Those longer and fuller skirts that you've had packed away deserve some daylight. STYLE TIP: a length at or just-below-the-knee flatters most. Unless you are a model, a mid-calf length is tough to wear without looking frumpy. Left to Right: Marc Jacobs, United Bamboo, Marc Jacobs.
MENS SOCKS AND PUMPS
Wooly and textured or ribbed merino dress socks worn with lady shoes is a look that continues. Prada's fall show made a sensational sock and shoe statement. I like the look of a feminine pump worn with ribbed men's knee high dress socks (long enough to go over the knee). They are easy to pick up anywhere. STYLE TIP: Pair with a longer hemline to avoid looking like a wayward (and crazy) school girl or Hannah Storm of ESPN for you sports enthusiasts.
GET CREATIVE WITH SWEATERS
Knitwear is everywhere for fall but have a look at these ideas and tell me you don't have similar sweaters stacked somewhere. For that cabled jewel neck or button front cardy that you haven't known what to do with: belt it ala Prada. A classic cardigan looks like a cropped knit jacket when closed with a brooch or kilt pin. Or try on some layering with a vest over a shirt and reign in the bulk of an oversized, textured cardigan with a belt.
Left to right: Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, Etro.
REMEMBER THE PANTSUIT? No offense to our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but her wardrobe of pantsuits is what most women currently associate with the style. But think back to the sartorial glory days of the late seventies and the slouchy and elegant lines of Halston's and Calvin's suits, for example. The look is back. Have a pantsuit to resuscitate? Single or double breasted it doesn't matter - belt the waist. Add a current-looking, tough shoe to avoid any intimations of Madame Secretary.
STYLE TIP: If your suit jacket passes muster but the pants look very boot cut and dated - have a tailor restyle them to a stovepipe shape that skims the hip and thigh and continues in a straight line.
And Finally... SALES RACK ALERT. Keep a look out for ponchos and capes. A few days ago, as I rummaged through a last gasp please get it out of here sales rack I found a fanatastic Elizabeth and James cape for an absolute song. Actually, cheaper than that. More like a 30-second jingle. Put these looks on your radar.