By, By Platforms

I have been delighted to read numerous articles about the return of the flat sole.   Somehow, I was envisioning the return of shoes that served as an accessory to the outfit, shoes that didn’t scream to take center stage.  Silly me!  Did I think for one minute that shoe designers would step back into the shadows after having enjoyed the spotlight for so long?  It only takes one quick look through the different lines of spring shoes to realize how wrong I was.

Although platforms are still a part of new spring creations, the return to a flat sole is clearly evident.    Also evident, is shoe designers desire to keep the spotlight on their shoes!  If we thought some of the platform creations were dramatic, well, we “ ain’t seen nothin’ yet”!

Fortunately, most lines include a nice selection of pumps, ballet flats, wedges, boots and smoking slippers.  Heel heights range from flat, mid to high heel and toes can be rounded to very pointed or a peep-toe.  It’s your choice.

I chose some of the more extreme to share from Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin, although there are some incredible examples from lesser- known designers.    The “boots” are by Tom Ford.  Obviously, one is not wearing these as real boots with a sandal at the foot.  I have seen several iterations of this look for spring and remain puzzled.  I’m not exactly sure what look it will support but it is dramatic and makes a statement.

The hot pink ankle strap is another statement shoe.  This is one of the less extreme ankle strap shoes I have seen.  Any ankle strap, especially a wide one, cuts the leg line so if you don’t have very long legs, it probably isn’t the most flattering look; even if you do want a statement.

Christian Louboutin’s multi colored design is another statement in itself.  It could rock a simple dress but the person who wears this will need as much presence as the shoe to pull it off.  A more subtle option is to wear long wide legged white trousers.  The shoes would show when you walked or sat down.  A n umber of women could pull that off.

My preference is to choose shoes that support my clothing and can be worn with different outfits so the garments get the attention and not the shoes.  If you love statement shoes, by all means splurge on one or two pair and let the rest of your look support the shoes.  Above all, enjoy!

Drama – Subtle or not so Subtle


When I described in a recent blog of having an assignment to come up with the most dramatic outfit I could wear, strong color contrast was not an option.  The remaining elements are extension of line and surprise.  I chose a cape, using extension of line.

Of course, this was all on paper but years later, I owned a white cashmere cape.  It was just a flat piece of fabric with an area for the neck and the remaining end was tossed over the opposite shoulder.  What fun!  Putting it on with a flourish, I was ready to take on the world.  I preferred to wear it over slacks or jeans, adding elegance, flair and DRAMA every time I wore it!  It was a sad day when the delicate cashmere finally began looking more like it had come from my grandmother’s attic and I had to say goodby.

In searching through current collections for examples of drama, I find that designers are using the elements of color contrast, extension of line and surprise frequently.  One can often find more than one of these elements in a single design.  This little short cape uses extension of line to create drama.  The fur trim adds an element of elegance.   Can’t you picture Nicole Kidman, with her elegant persona, wearing this for an evening out?

This evening dress has the element of surprise with a simple, high front, then –  Surprise! – an unexpected revealing back.  This would be a beautiful way for a classic style person such as Diane Sawyer, to carry off drama.   I would not choose the strip for her but a midnight blue would be stunning.

The little black dress uses a flared skirt to create understated drama.  Jennifer Anniston, with her natural all-American girl persona could rock this.  Romantic Kate Hudson would also look fabulous in this dress but would want to add some romantic jewelry or perhaps, a fluffy shrug.

Finally, Stella McCartney, included this black and white sun dress in her spring line.  In addition to color contrast, she has added the element of surprise with cutouts in front and back.  This dress needs to b worn by someone young and full of pizzazz.  It also will be totally memorable so if your budget will allow for only one great new summer outfit, this is probably not the best choice.

Adding a little drama can be fun for everyone.  When you know your own style, you will know how to make it happen and look fabulous.  Need some guidance?  That’s what Style With Aplomb is all about.  Call Beryl  at 404-428-2527


How Much Drama Can You Handle?

When I took Psychology of Line and Design at UCLA years ago, the final quarter culminated our study with using what we had learned to create a specific outfit each week, complete with accessories.  One that I particularly remember was creating the most dramatic outfit that you could wear.

Drama can be achieved through color contrast, extension of line, or surprise.   Color contrast has been a dominant theme for designers for the past few seasons – color blocking, vivid prints and now, black and white.  Knowing what works for you and how to achieve your best dramatic style is the challenge.

Black and white creates the most dramatic look.   When I was thinking about drama for my project, black and white was not even a consideration. Even if I had a strong personality, my blonde hair and fair skin would never be able to carry off black and white.  Maybe powder blue and creamy white?  Not much drama there.

Stella McCartney has some great looks but pushes the envelope in some of her designs.  The black and white plaid jacket, striped shirt and white trousers are definitely dramatic.  Notice the focus:  the striped blouse is most dominant, the jacket second and the trousers third.  I think the print shoes are a distraction and would have chosen a solid.  This model has strong coloring so she is not lost with the color contrast.  Also, her face has some straight lines to support the stripes and plaid.  Had her face been all soft, rounded lines, it would not have worked.

Oscar de la Renta usually achieves the latest styles without the extremes of many other designers.  Using this season’s emerald green has a good bit of drama in color combination.  The print is dramatic and this dress has cutouts at the neck and skirt bottom for added dramatic detail.  I love using this bolero to stabilize the print or it could have been really busy looking.  This look will need someone with presence to wear it.  Accenting with earrings only is great and I like that the model’s hair is pulled back so that it does not interfere with all of the design.

The leopard is also a Stella McCartney and definitely pushes the envelope.  The print is a force of its own.  No soft blended shades, this leopard.  Your attention is focused on the excessive drama of the print and the model is just an afterthought.   Using any one of these pieces, shoes included, and pairing it with a solid from the print for everything else would have achieved a better result.   For the gentle person who can’t pull off a lot of drama with color contrast, how about doing the whole look in a solid color or tone-on-tone of one color and popping it with the shoes.  Fun and something even you can pull off!

Fashion Focus

It’s a New Year!  Goals!  Resolutions! Focus, focus, focus!

One look at the new fashions arriving in stores, and it is evident that focus is more necessary than ever to achieve a stylish look that projects your style.

Recently, designers have been pushing the envelope with more bold combinations of colors, fabrics and styles; some work and some don’t.  How do you choose the right look for you?

Over the holidays, I was struck by two very different looks, neither of which was executed well.

Example 1:  A lovely, refined, blonde lady caught my attention at a holiday luncheon.  She wore a long wrapped leopard skin print skirt.  It was not one of those muted prints but fairly large size with strong color definition.  With this she had chosen a sculpted velvet jacket in a deep golden brown.  The sculpting formed a design on the back of the jacket.  She added a belt with large elephant head buckle and completed the outfit with snakeskin shoes.   Where was the focus?  There was so much going on, one’s eye got dizzy just trying to take it all in.  Any one of these items could have been the total focus but one needed to be dominate.  As it was, all were fighting for the spotlight.  The jacket would have been beautiful for this elegant lady had she worn it over an ivory dress, for example, the refinement of the velvet could take the spotlight to support her soft look.  She might have even worn the snakeskin shoes or accented with the belt for a secondary focal point.   Leopard print has a dramatic earthy feel, which would work well for a dramatic person but didn’t really complement this lady’s delicate appearance.

Example 2:  The youth worship team at our church filled in for the choir one Sunday.  The thirtyish female lead singer, again blonde with blue eyes, was wearing a short, ivory chiffon cocktail dress with a sunburst of sequins radiating out from the empire waist.  She then added faded skinny jeans with brown buckled boots and topped off the look off with a black linen blazer.   Total disconnect with elements!  There is no way jeans could work with a chiffon cocktail dress.  Buckled boots say “casual, sporty” so they were good with the jeans but didn’t relate in any way with the dress.  What if she had chosen black or bright colored tights with matching platform shoes?  Edgy, sure but it would have been in keeping with the youthful look she was trying to achieve.  Since the jacket had a feminine cut, it could have even worked.  As it was, I was so distracted by this disassociated combination of elements; I had trouble enjoying the music!

As the cruise and spring lines arrive in stores, you will find an abundance of color contrast and pattern combinations.  Need some help tiptoeing through this minefield?  That’s what we are here for.  404-428-