This fall, the classic, clean-lined black satchel is the everyday ( read investment) bag to carry. The Little Black Bag showed up in collections as varied as Marni ( image left) with 60's inspired, belted jackets and drop waist dresses, at Alexander Wang with minimalist, lacquered leathers and tweeds, at Lanvin with fur vests and statement coats and at Prada with jewel encrusted coat dresses worn over pants. I love the versatility of a bag that works with looks from leather jeans to shapely dresses. While number 3 - Lanvin's Doctor's Bag- is priced in the stratosphere, check out it's shape and absence of hardware for the right look.
Here's what I've noticed a lot this summer: when I look at a woman's outfit it's The Big Three - bag, shoes and sunglasses- that telegraph her personal style more than her clothes. I know. Alert the media. But there is a reason that accessories are bigger than ever. Clothing trends are all over the map. Some days it is just easier to wear simple pieces and to ply some great accessories than it is to decode fashion's multiple personalities. One of the biggest street trends in NYC this summer? A tailored silk shirt worn with everything from denim cut-offs to slim, print pants and street-sweeping long skirts. For work, I live in white shirts and simple bottoms and my Big Three fly my style flag. And I don't leave my apartment for milk without sunglasses (and a little red lipstick). A privacy shield and a style badge, a great pair of shades give your everyday look the right quotient of 'right now' .
So how to choose the frames that flatter you best? Simple math: if your face is full and round avoid round frames. If your face is angular avoid sharp edges. The trick is to "contrast rather than mirror the shape of your face" according to optometrist Rene Soltis. Here is more of Rene's Facial Geometry 101:
ROUND: Your face is essentially the same length and width. Rectangular shapes add length. Large rectangulars with upturned corners de-emphasize full cheeks (and provide a mini-face lift). 1. Fairfax by Elizabeth and James. 2. Jackie OHH by RayBan 3. "Retro" tortoise frames by Vera Wang
OVAL: As close to symmetrical as it gets. You can wear a variety of shapes (read trends). Choose frames that are as wide (or wider) than the broadest part of your face. Pass on styles with low or curved temples as they'll work against your facial symmetry. 1. 'Cat Eye' from The Row. 2.The classic black Wayfarer by RayBan. 3. The blown-up rectangle by Valentino.
SQUARE: You have a strong jawline, a broad forehead and a wide chin and cheekbones. Your face is as long as it is wide so pass on bottom heavy styles with flat, straight lines. Frames with curved bottoms slim your face. 1. Warby Parker 'Greystone' 2. Warby Parker 'Tenley' in midnight blue 3. Ray Ban classic aviators.
HEART: Your face is broadest at your forehead and cheekbones and tapers to a narrow chin like Michelle Pfeiffer's (here, in a still from Scarface that my intern Margaret could not resist...) A modified aviator or wayfarer shape that curves at the bottom balances the difference between the width of your forehead and chin. Low temples also balance your facial proportions. Pass on frames that have a strong line at the brow or that have bold or dark colors that add weight at your brow. Choose solid lenses vs. gradient lenses. 1."Jennifer" sunglasses by Tom Ford 2. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Powder Blue". 3."Clubmaster" by RayBan.
TIP: Never been sure about your shape? Try this messy but reliable trick. Look at your face fresh from the shower with your hair slicked back. Draw the shape of your face on a mirror with a washable marker ( an old eyebrow pencil or a hated shade of lipstick works too).
FOR ALL SHAPES:
"Be sure that your eyes are centered in your sunglasses", advises Rene Soltis. "And your frames shouldn't cover your eyebrows".
Sun protection has nothing to do with the color of your lenses. In fact, deeply tinted lenses can be worse for your eyes than no glasses at all. Here’s why: your pupils dilate in the dim light behind the shades which actually lets in more damaging rays.
Your lenses should cover the entire eye and block 99 to 100 percent of UV light.
Fall is here- in the stores at least. Rethink your sunglass style. Does the color of your frames boost your skin tone and hair color? Does the color work with the heavier fabrics and richer colors on deck? Black and tortoise are classic choices but try on colors like navy, spruce green, graphite, oxblood or deep plum tones for an update.
The difference between a good and a great weekend getaway is having everything you need to create three or four days worth of looks packed in one carry-on bag. Since I spend a lot of time living out of suitcases, friends call me all the time asking for packing advice. So, here is my beach weekend packing primer:
-Choose a palette
This is the best way to organize yourself. I start with basic anchor pieces in solids. I've used navy and white here. Then, I add a few more pieces - a tee, a camisole- in a few solid bright accent colors. I don't need to tell you to pack a few white tee shirts. Next, add a print or two. Like a pair of shorts. And pack a neutral, soft cardy that works over all of your pieces day to evening.
The easiest denim to work high and low. Crisp for day with tees and flat sandals and for casual evening with some 'statement' jewelry and a high heel wedge. Don't like jeans? A long and simple white cotton skirt can work too.
-Pack A Dress
You don't want to look too dressed up. Just 'effortlessly chic' enough for lunch or dinner at a restaurant or for an at-home dinner invitation.
A Button Down Shirt
I like a chambray shirt that I can wear with everything. I'll throw it over over my bathing suit as a cover-up and wear it with my jeans and some jewelry for sunset drinks and a casual dinner.
A One Piece Bathing Suit
Bring a solid colored suit that subs as a top you can wear with your skirt or shorts for a step-off the-beach-to-have-lunch look. Pair it with your skirt for a sunset drink option.
Max The Accessories
Jewelry makes an outfit. Since it's lightweight and easy to pack- bring options like a statement necklace, a cuff or two or a pair of big drop earrings, a neutral clutch that works with all of your looks and a lightweight scarf big enough to ward off airplane air con, wear as a sarong, or as a shoulder wrap in the evening.
Just Two Pairs of Shoes
If I'm at the beach I leave my 'city' ( read stonking, dagger heeled, leather) sandals behind and bring something more casual. A neutral colored wedge heel espadrille-ish sandal dresses things up without looking like you have labored over your outfit. And a neutral flat sandal takes you from airport security to the beach. Okay, I am not including the sneakers you pack for running or rain insurance- just what you need for the fashion portion of your weekend.
Your beach bag doubles as your big under-the-seat carry on.
I'm not big on rolling my clothes. They end up looking like mess. I pack my shoes first wrapped in bags so that my clothes don't get dirty. I layer my dress and skirt on top of some tissue paper. Tees, sweater, and gym clothes go next. More tissue paper. Lighter pieces like a silk camisole go on the top of that. I pack my jewelry in a separate jewelry roll and that gets tucked in on the side of the bag. On top of it all is a clear toiletry bag I can hang on the bathroom door packed with TSA approved mini-sized bottle filled with the things I'll need. I pack my makeup in a separate small bag. I never pack without a Tide stick and some Woolite in a mini bottle. I hand launder and line dry as needed.
Tip: I spray the tissue paper with my favorite fragrance so that my clothes arrive smelling fresh. Something light like Kai or my new favorite Jo Malone English Pear and Freesia.
Iron what you plan to wear a few days before you leave, then hang it up. Any dampness makes your clothes wrinkle like crazy. Pack the night before to keep yourself sane.
ON THE HOME PAGE:
Sometimes it's the trendlets- the smaller gestures - that transmit more about the way women are thinking than the extreme looks of the runway. So here's a subtle idea that's showed up at Stella McCartney (below center and right) Bottega Veneta and in contemporary lines like ALC and 10 Crosby by Derek Lam. Collars and cuffs. The look is sport inspired; body con and comes off best under light weight knits. Layering a shirt (and tucking the collar) under sweaters, knit dresses and lightweight wool dresses or tunics is a perfect way to layer right now that will look very "next season". Always good.
So how to pull it off without button bumps, bra lines or shirt ride - especially under tissue weight knits? Lightweight cotton voile is less troublesome than heavier weight cottons but often the collar looks wimpy. Try the solution I swear by- the SkinnyShirt I wear under my knits. Think shape wear meets haberdashery. A knit body and long sleeves made of a breathable and cool combination of lycra and nylon smooth everything out. A cotton pique collar, v-front placket and extended cuffs create the right look.
Happy Valentine's Day. Romance. Chocolate. Seduction. Seduction for chocolate. What is seductive about a woman is almost always what is unseen and left to the active imagination of the viewer. N'est ce pas? Which seems positively quaint in the age of flogging your goodies like Kim K. Or just very French.
Just in time for a day devoted to love here are valuable tips I picked up in the fascinating book La Seduction How the French Play The Game of Life by Elaine Sciolino. Like this strategy in seduction from the actress, singer, dancer Arielle Dombasle who advises that a woman should never, never, never let her husband see her naked. "I'm nude when I am alone, in the shower, and I'm nude when I am in his arms, but never in a sort of casually stupid gesture of the morning or whatever. Never." And here's the kicker in case you doubt her logic here. "You shouldn't" she says. "Otherwise he won't buy you lunch."
It's not too late to shop for some lingerie for tonight. And, if you are at all interested in lunch, keep it on.