It's funny when a basic like the cotton t-neck becomes a trendy layering piece as it has this season. White and cream t-necks served as modern layering in many collections. I like the way BCBG Max Azria (1) layered them under dresses. Phoebe Philo at Celine (2) used a cream t-neck as a kind of modernist anchor for a collection she described as inspired by the colors and materials of car interiors. At Bottega Veneta (3) Tomas Maier used the white t-neck to reinvigorate the kind of neat skirt suit Catherine Deneuve wore in Belle du Jour and at Ralph Lauren (4) the combination of a black t-neck under a red satin shirt, mixed with art deco-inspired jewelry is an effortless look for a holiday evening.
There is nothing I love more than an easy and wallet friendly update. These are not your standard issue cotton t-necks however. You want the lightest weight, second skin fit you can get your hands on. You'll find joy in cotton and lycra at H&M
for a mere $12.95 ( in cream and black). I have been layering these under dresses, jackets and lightweight sweaters. H&M also has a more deluxe version with a shapely skim fit thanks to strategic bust darts for $29. JCrew's
tissue weight turtle is also $29 and a version of BCBG's
runway turtleneck ( minus the cool black cuffs) is $68 at BCBG.com.
I've had this this tweet from M. Lagerfeld on ice in anticipation of writing about florals. While I don't agree with his assessment, Karl got me thinking about what combinations of floral pattern plus silhouette work for ladies who are not kids. Florals are tricky. If you can imagine a particular floral looking adorable in a child's size then keep pushing those hangers. Choose a sweet floral in a style that is too girly or Mad Men-retro and it's easy to look crazy (and matronly). Floral and mini lengths are a no if you don't want to look like you are clutching at youth. Not to mention that minis are currently in remission. Fashion loves longer lengths and this trend is only just beginning.
So what works? Simple silhouettes. Longer lengths ( at least knee length). Abstract florals with a modern-art sensibility. Black or dark backgrounds that look sophisticated and not saccharine. (Left- Right) Karl Lagerfeld's take on florals at Chanel combines an explosion of camelias with abstract clouds for evening. Computer designed florals animate Cacharel's silk tee and pants with a hip, op-art sensibility that looks right on city streets. Carolina Herrera's blown-up daisy print on black worn with a white shirt is a blue-chip-chic combination firmly rooted in reality. DKNY's mid-sized floral is as simple as an elongated tee shirt and the slimming property of a uniformly-sized, repeat pattern is a bonus. And note the sandals. They have presence which is the right counterpoint for a strong print.
And now for what doesn't work. Light backgrounds plus retro prints equals a resort or country club vibe that seldom works anywhere except at resorts and country clubs. (Left to Right) The sixties- irony of Dolce and Gabbana's wallpaper floral suit might translate as cheeky if you are under 25 but frumpy if you are not. The Heroines of the Prairie look from Anna Sui is for young things in the first blush of grunge. And the lunch-at-the-club look of Milly's floral dress and capris is an all too common trap for ladies of a certain age who are drawn to the kind of 'fun' prints they loved in college and in their twenties. The stylist for this show tried in vain to toughen-up things with glasses, turbans and statement necklaces lifted from Prada's and Marnie's playbooks but take away the window dressing and the patterns look more frumpy than fun. A woman is guaranteed to look upholstered in a pair of poppy printed capris.
I am not much of an aggregator but this short film from Nowness
about senior citizens with extraordinary personal style is inspiring and simply too good to miss. It features one of my style heroes, the impossibly chic Iris Apfel
. Her outsized glasses and effortless mix of ethnic jewelry with couture reflects a one-of-a-kind eye for color, texture and pattern.
Apfel's unique style inspired a 2005 exhibit of her wardrobe -Rare Bird of Fashion- at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum. If you missed the show don't miss the inspiration to be found in the book from the show.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I hate the whole concept of comfort," he says. "It's like when people say, 'Well, we're not really in love, but we're in a comfortable relationship.' You're abandoning a lot of ideas when you are too into comfort. 'Comfy' - that's one of the worst words! I just picture a woman feeling bad, with a big bottle of alcohol, really puffy." - Christian Louboutin
When I read that a sploofy UES shoe service will paint the soles of any shoes Louboutin red - that finished it for me.
Chanel once said "a woman should wear ropes and ropes of pearls". Agreed. But right now it's the impact of the single strand that's caught my eye. I noticed them at Thom Browne for spring (left) and then a few weeks ago at Donna Karan for Fall 2011.
Maybe it's a trendlet and maybe not. But unadorned gray pearls sans any mashup of chains, gems and bows look great. Their creamy, nacreous sisters are beautiful but I am pulling out my long strand of grays to wear everyday with white tee shirts, menswear jackets and with bright colors. There are few things sexier than a single strand of pearls tucked into the V-neck of a white tee or sweater. While I don't recommend running for the train in the knee length Mr. Browne used to accessorize his schoolboy blazer, I like the exaggeration of an opera length (48 to 120 inches long) worn casually. Donna Karan's marble-sized princess length looks elegant and unapologetically faux. And fake knocks the potential for stuffy out of the equation.
Just for a minute, let's forget words like indispensable, timeless or classic when we think about a crisp white button down shirt. There may be nothing truly new under the sun in fashion but spring's new proportions make the white shirt look, well, new for spring.
( far left) Phoebe Philo's riff on the white shirt is all menswear slouch with a bib front and relaxed fit. Dries van Noten
( second and third from left) built his spring collection around the notion of shirt dressing and gave the white shirt a new look entirely with blown-up volume and paired with sophisticated, just-louche-enough satin jammy pants. And at Jil Sander
, Raf Simon's juxtaposition of white button downs (and white tees) with couture-inspired long skirts looked very hip. Fashion loved the look but naturally, red carpet pundits pilloried Tilda Swinton for her Jil Sander ensemble at the Golden Globes. I love her iconoclastic eye and for not playing the red carpet game.
Why the new spin on white shirts right now? Is it that fashion is searching for anything women will buy? Definitely. Jones New York
has devoted their spring campaign to white shirts and the new power dressing. Is it that the mix of masculine with feminine is forever appealing? That too. But the straight forward chic of the white shirt also speaks directly to what is next in fashion: a rejection of noisy, excessively blingy design in favor of a more stripped-down aesthetic. And in a season of brights nothing tempers a vivid colored bottom or jacket like a white shirt.
Freshen-up your own wardrobe with a new button down that's a little oversized (think classic shirt fit from the 80's). It looks newer whether you tuck it in or leave it out than something very fitted. Choose a traditional shirt collar ( have a look at Dries above). Longer collar points (versus a spread collar) combined with the three or four open buttons creates the all important neck-elongating line.
As for price, personally I never spend a fortune on white shirts. But I don't buy fast fashion cheap either. Flimsy cotton doesn't achieve the crisp look that's versatile enough to wear high and low, day and night. And watch out for more than just a touch of elastin in those no-iron styles. Too much and the cotton won't drape nicely.
I am as happy as any red carpet-walking actress that another awards season is behind us. I can't skim anymore articles or suffer anymore chat show segments instructing me how to get myself Red Carpet Ready. I don't know about you but I'm going to work, the airport, yoga, CVS and I don't feel to compelled to get RCR to do any of these things.
As for last night's red carpet, aside from the trends - red and varying shades of purple, lace, nude, shimmer and sequins- Oscar fashion always falls into five reliable camps:
PRETTY: Romantic, frothy, lacy and sometimes more than a little too fairy princess for grown women. But pretty all the same. The kind of relatable fashion that most women can imagine themselves wearing if they needed to be RCR. Last night Natalie Portman inspired leagues of pregnant women how to do a maternity evening look well. Halle Berry would look stunning wearing a belted garment bag but her floaty nude Marchesa confection led the charge in pretty.
HIGH FASHION: Strong, statuesque types like Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Tilda Swinton dress for fashion's sake and not for wolf whistles. They take risks knowing they will be pilloried by the press. I love them for it and I loved the Givenchy Haute Couture creation that Cate Blanchette wore last night.
STATUETTE: Sequined columns that suggest Oscar himself like Gwyneth Paltrow's liquid platinum gown by Calvin Klein or Amy Adams in a sapphire sequined L'Wren Scott.
TRAIN WRECK: Helena Bonham Carter has been helming this category for years. Her period costume drama sensibilities are okay with me. She lives with Tim Burton. What more do we need to know? Sadly, there aren't enough train wrecks of the Cher in Bob Mackie variety to look forward to anymore. The majority of actresses are savvy enough to hire a good stylist. However, Melissa Leo's hand tooled leather lace number by Marc Bouwer did not disappoint. And the perfect accessory for a certified TW? An F-bomb. Fun!
ABOVE THE SCRUM: There are a few actresses who by keeping things simple manage to navigate the rocky shoals of Oscar style like Helen Mirren in steel gray Vivienne Westwood, Ann Hathaway in an 'archival ' red Valentino and Sandra Bullock in red Vera Wang.
A new year. New eyeglasses. It seemed like an easy enough style upgrade until I started to shop for frames and found myself muttering "why does anything with a look cost $400?" There are a few reasons. Designer glasses are ridiculously expensive because much like Big Oil and Big Pharma there is Big Optometry. Safilo and Luxotica are two mondo manufacturers who also design and market glasses for fashion names like Chanel, Gucci, Prada and Ralph Lauren. Luxotica also owns retailers Sunglass Hut and Lens Crafters. So the cost of seasonal ad campaigns and mall real estate are factored into the price of every pair of frames.
After a little online research I discovered Warby Parker
which sells retro-inspired frames for around $95 a pair including prescription lenses. The one year old company eliminates the retail middle man with frames of their own design that they sell from their online store. You have a few options when you shop. The site has facial recognition technology so upload a picture of your face and try on virtual glasses. I prefer a hands on approach so the company mailed me five loaner frames of my choosing to try at home. I was impressed. The glasses were lightweight enough to avoid slipping but felt comfortable and sturdy on my face. The loaners are returnable if you don't strike gold. Choose your frames and enter your prescription information online including the distance between your pupils ( an optician can easily measure this for you) and that's it. Chic-looking and well-priced glasses for a fraction of the cost of designer frames. And for every pair of frames sold WP provides a free pair of eyeglasses to someone in need in the U.S. or the developing world.
New York City may be a frozen tundra but I spent last night at the beach thanks to Ann Taylor's LOFT brand.
In a photo studio decked out with cabanas, palm trees and music by DJ Mia Moretti, LOFT hosted an evening to preview their terrific selection for Summer ( May deliveries). Some highlights: water color floral linens, slouchy cotton sweaters and tees, seersucker jackets, batik shifts, wide leg linen pants and a range of great looking accessories including color blocked flat sandals, embellished espadrilles and metallic canvas totes. Standout necklaces featured a chic mix of rhinestones and turquoise. The best part? Nothing costs more than $100.
Engineers have compared the construction of a great bra to a suspension bridge. Think about it: are you wearing an architectural masterpiece like the Brooklyn Bridge or Tarzan's rope walk under your sweater? No other garment has the potential to either optimize or undo a woman's silhouette like her bra. Take time to find the right ones. Try them on under a tissue tee or a lightweight sweater to get the true effect ( because everyone else will).
The right bra will:
Provide lift and support.
Sit in the center of your torso ( front and back). The cups should shape your breasts for a symmetrical look (making your torso appear longer and slimmer from every angle).
Have a cup shape and depth that is in exact proportion with the size and shape of your breasts: no spillage over the top or sides, or from the bottom of the cup ( really obvious in tee shirts).
Have a strap width and length that doesn't dig into or slip from your shoulders. If your straps are pulled to the tightest position, your bra is too big.
The band should fit securely across the middle of your back when fastened on the tightest set of hooks. A band that rides up creates VBL ( visible bra line known less charitably as back bacon) that flesh roll above your band. Loose also means that your breasts will drift southward from lack of support. A bra worn on the furthest set of hooks is too big since bras give a bit with wear.
Check how your bras fit every six months because even subtle weight shifts and hormones that cause fluid retention and GRAVITY can change the fit enough that you may need to do some fine tuning.
Start the new year with a new bra. And when you've weeded out any that no longer fit you perfectly - put them to good use. Between now and February 14 Soma Intimates Boutiques
have partnered with Dress For Success
and Bra Recyclers
to collect new and gently used bras to donate to women in need across the country as the one piece of clothing that needy women most often lack is a good bra. You can drop yours off at a Soma boutique near you or contact Bra Recyclers for donation information.