Flowers for Men??

If you’re not planning a trip to Hawaii or Tahiti, don’t worry.  Flowers are in right here in the United States!  Designers will be bringing flowers in full force in the spring but clothiers will be introducing more and more flowers into fall collections.

Flowered shirts and swimwear don’t seem to be unusual in warm or tropical settings.  After all, you are surrounded with vibrantly colored flowers and greenery.  In fact, a conservative navy or gray suit would look out of place.  However, northern cities are replete with black, gray and navy business suits so the man wearing a bright floral shirt with his suit is going to attract a lot of attention.  Not necessarily positive!

I am sure this trend is going to be much more popular in cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Miami but if you want to just dip your toe into flowerdy waters, there are some more conservative options.

The new “Aloha” shirts have a slimmer cut with a smaller collar for an updated look.  Some of the patterns look more camouflage than a florist shop.   These updated shirts would look cool with denim, good chinos or white pants.   Dockers or white Converse could complete the look.  You could even throw on an unstructured linen blazer.

If this is a little too bold for your style, but you would like to do flowers, New Balance has come out with sneakers with a subtle flowered lining.  How safe is that?  You will also find simple solid T-shirts with a floral design on the pocket.  Of course, flowered socks would be a natural way to subtly incorporate a flower or two into your business style.   Ties will be adding many floral options.

On the extreme side, you will be seeing floral trousers, jackets and even suits.  I’m thinking these may never make the stores in more conservative cities, which is a good thing!

If your style is more like Tom Hanks, you may want to pass on this trend; but if your style is on the creative side like Johnny Depp, you may have fun throwing in a few flowers.  No matter where you are on the men’s fashion scale, flowers are coming and you can choose how you want to brighten your closet . . . . or , maybe not!

Good News for Plus Sizes

Plus sizes seem to have always been fashion’s stepchild.  Limited style selection coupled with lack of quality in fabric and construction details have made it challenging for ladies to find attractive clothing, especially for business.  I experienced this first hand when working with a client whose client base was senior executives.  She needed a wardrobe of quality, professional business clothes.  I pre-shopped and found that Lafayette 148 in Salon Z at Saks had as a nice choice of styles.  Although it was much more limited than other departments, we found the perfect suit, slacks, some tops and sweaters from the Eileen Fisher department to be worn as jackets.  These items were of a quality that would last for several years and allow her to expand her choices by adding a few pieces each year.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the average American woman is 5 foot 4, weight 167 pounds and has a 37-inch waist.  Plus-sized ladies comprise 65% to 70% of consumers.  Why should two-thirds of the population be so overlooked?  The good news is that changes are coming.

Changes are coming!   Vogue recently featured Kate Upton on the cover, a model who is not plus-sized but is often shunned by the fashion industry as being larger than most.  Vogue editor, Anna Wintour challenged the industry in an editorial, “if the high-fashion world seems incapable of figuring out what to do with her (the plus-sized lady) ….. then that’s its loss.”

In addition to Lafayette 148 and Eileen Fisher, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Johnny Was and Ellie Tahari are dipping their toes into the water.  Fast growing vintage look retailer, ModCloth, is moving aggressively to capture this underserved market.

Ladies put on weight differently, making it a challenge to develop sizing that will accommodate different body shapes.   But, there is a bright future for the plus-sized market.  New designers are choosing to specialize in this vital market and more popular known designers are entering the field.  Ladies will have much greater options of beautiful designs that show their curves.  It is about time the plus-sized lady can be as fashionable as their model-sized counterparts.

Nude in New York

 

If New York has switched to nude, can the rest of the country be far behind?

Color choices for manicures have dramatically changed from the time when the choice was shades of red, pink or neutral.  Today, it is hard to find a selection of those shades among the blue, yellow, green, black and any other shade one might conceive or wearing.

Nail salons in New York are seeing a trend back to nude shades and I, for one, am pleased to see this change.  It is fun for young girls to choose unusual colors, add flowers, sparkles, or geometric designs but I don’t see these as a good choice for most women.

Bright colors do not belong in the majority of offices.  There might be a place for blues, yellows and greens in a more artistic setting but in the business world, it is not a professional look.   It is hard to take a banker, financial planner, or attorney seriously when they are wearing bright yellow or polka dots nail polish.

Drawing attention to your hands is not necessarily the best idea.   Many people use their hands when talking – some more than others.   My husband once said, “Can you repeat that?  I blinked.”  We communicate more effectively when the focus on our face.  Others can hear what we are saying, read our expression.

Bright colors on shorter nails make fingers look stubby.  If you want to appear to have long, slender fingers, this is not the way to do it.  Nude polish on oval nails help make nails appear longer;  the nail appears to be an extension of the finger.

Hands show aging.  We can use the best creams on our faces and have various treatments to keep looking younger but our hands are a dead giveaway.  I remember how attractive Nancy Reagan was as First Lady.  She was always impeccably groomed, appropriately and beautifully dressed in her size 4’s even though she was in her 70’s.  However, I remember being shocked by a photo of her showing a close-up of her hands.  They were covered with brown spots with some enlarged joints, betraying her otherwise youthful appearance.

On the practical side, neutral polish does not show chips.  Nothing is more frustrating than chipping a nail just before a meeting or event where you want to look your very best.  Chances are, nobody will notice if you have chosen nude.

It may be boring and lack creativity, but nude is good.

 

From Picnic to Runway

Gingham checks make me think of green meadows, picnic baskets, little children playing in their gingham dresses.  In other words: fun, fresh, young, and outdoors.   We think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

When I was in high school, it was determined that my eyes were light sensitive and I should wear sunglasses.  When my aunt and uncle treated me to gingham-checked glasses (something unheard of in my small town) I was delighted.  You can imagine how much fun it was to wear something so fashion-forward!

Be prepared to see gingham checks across the fashion spectrum.  Prada, always pushing the envelope, introduced checks into her collection.  Kate Spade has partnered with Keds to offer gingham-checked sneakers.  One can find dog beds, umbrellas and sunglasses.  The pattern is also making a comeback in décor—creating a country – preppy vibe.

I like the freshness of gingham but find many of the applications  inappropriate.  I can’t imagine going to an important business meeting in a gingham dress or suit.  Both are in the Prada collection.  Stella McCartney presented a multi-size gingham cocktail dress.  Her design is truly creative and the look will work for a summer cocktail outing.  It will never be really sophisticated, but I can see many occasions where this dress would be a showstopper.

Men are getting in on the trend as well.  Of course, Jay Austin’s bow tie collection includes gingham prints.  Gingham check shirts are also mainstream these days.  I especially like this red, white and blue.  It will never be really formal but is an excellent choice for a casual day at the office or classy casual weekend event.

Enjoy the freshness of the gingham look, keeping in mind that it is a bit reminiscent of Dorothy, young, vulnerable and unsophisticated.

Where Have All the Manners Gone?

As we were leaving Home Depot last Saturday, my husband, Joe, opened the car door for me.  Suddenly, a young man who was collecting shopping carts, was excitedly talking to Joe.  And applauding.  He was totally impressed and told my husband that this would be the only time all weekend that he would see this simple act of chivalry.

Now, I’m not saying that all men should be opening doors for women, although it does make me feel treasured, but the incident did sadden me that manners have generally been discarded.  I grew up on a cattle ranch but we were taught manner.   Our table was properly set for every meal.  The fork was placed to the left of the plate and knife and spoon to the right.  The water glass was above the knife.  Of course, when we had a holiday dinner, we added a salad fork beside the dinner fork and a salad plate.  These are basics but how many times do you attend a luncheon or dinner where others seated at your table have no idea which bread plate or napkin belongs to them?

Eating habits have generally deteriorated as well.  It is rare when dining out, not to have diners nearby eating with their mouths open or talking while eating.   Some even eat with their elbows on the table while shoveling food with their hand over the top of the fork.  It does take the pleasure out of dining in a restaurant

I am sure much of the demise of the niceties of eating can be attributed to families not sitting down to traditional meals any more.  With both children and parents having such busy schedules, eating is done on the run, resorting to the drive-through of a fast-food restaurant.  We are guilty as well.  We often eat while watching the news.  It is easy not to observe proper manners in such a setting.

I don’t get the chewing gum thing either.  Often, I encounter people who chew gum all of the time.  Recently, I attended a lovely tea at the Ritz Carlton.  Ladies were beautifully dressed, complete with elegant hat.  Out of the periphery of my eye, I noticed a lady aggressively chewing gum.  I was curious as to what she would do with it when the tea sandwiches arrived.  Amazingly, between the sandwiches, and the desserts, I noticed this woman was again attacking her chewing gum.  How did she do that?  Has she mastered eating with gum in her mouth?  Only she can answer that question.

I saved the biggest offender for last – the cell phone!   How often do you encounter people sharing lunch or dinner and ignoring each other while they text or talk on the phone?  Didn’t they choose to eat together so that they could enjoy each other’s company?  Or how irritating to be in a public place and someone is talking so loudly on his cell phone that you cannot only hear everything but you can’t even enjoy your own conversation?

Can Everyone Wear a Tunic?

Tory Burch has helped make the tunic popular, prompting other designers to follow suite.  You now have  many choices in color, design and fabric.  I am including a link to an article my daughter sent from Nashville.  I would only add a few comments to these  excellent examples and commentary.

Print:  Choosing a print that works for you takes some skill.  It should complement your personal style.   You want to be the focus, not what you are wearing so make sure that you are seen first and then what you are wearing.

Shape:  If you have curvy figure with a defined waist, choose a soft fabric or light-weight fabric cut on the bias.  You want the tunic to slightly mold around your curves keeping your look feminine.

Details:  If your style is feminine, avoid the plain, crisp look of a traditional tunic.   Beading or details at the neck will be more feminine as will softer fabrics.