The New European Royals

William and Kate
William and Kate

Who doesn’t enjoyed reading about what the European royals are wearing?

Princess Diana was the darling of every fashion pundit, starting with the see-through skirt when she was first engaged to Prince Charles.   We followed her through many fashion disasters and watched as she grew into her own style to become a beautiful royal fashion icon.  Unfortunately, we also followed the tabloids through the turbulent  years, of her marriage, her  tragic death and Charles’ marriage to Camilla. Now it is Will, Kate, and baby George who are in the spotlight. It will be a long time before William becomes king but all eyes are again turned to England and this winsome young couple represent the royal family with youth and proper royal decorum. They both know their own style and carry it off with dignity–the perfect image for a young couple whose primary role is ceremonial.

William and Kate
William and Kate

Royalty became personal for us when our beloved Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Princess Grace. Grace was a fashion icon before becoming a princess but she continued to carry out the role beautifully in spite of the headlines made by her children for all the wrong reasons. Now, son Prince Albert, is the ruling monarch of Monaco. He and his lovely wife, Charlene, have just announced that they will become parents late this year. Charlene is a former Olympic swimmer

Prince Albert and Charlene
Prince Albert and Charlene

from South Africa.  She is shy and will probably not be in the spotlight as much as Grace used to be but she seems to enjoy a simple but elegant style of her own.

Joining the ranks of young, handsome European monarchs is newly crowned King Felipe of Spain. His father, Juan Carlos, restored Spain to a democracy following the reign of dictator Franco back in the 1970’s, thus the position is more ceremonial like England.

 Felipe and Letizia

Felipe and Letizia

Felipe brings to the thrown his beautiful wife, Letizia, and two young daughters. Like both Prince Albert and Prince William, Felipe chose to marry a commoner. Letizia was a TV journalist prior to their marriage and her sense of style is evident.  It remains to be seen whether the youth and elegance of this young couple garners more attention in the press but my guess is that we will probably see a lot more of them.

Royalty in Europe is changing and we now have three young, dynamic royal families representing three important European countries. The future should bring a royal fashion feast!

Boot Up for Fall

Skinny Jeans and Boots from Saks
Skinny Jeans and Boots from Saks

Bloomingdale’s held their big fall fashion event shining the spotlight on several of their different boutiques. Let’s look at a few trends that dominate the season.

Black ruled the runway. Little pops of colored accessories were added for interest. After seasons of bright prints and brilliant colors, designers are returning to a neutral palette, albeit primarily black. Some collections used cobalt blue to accent, some a rich shade of eggplant and some, deep merlot. Color served only to accent; it was not a focus but does give the customer some variety from which to choose.   Some collections added a few soft, muted shades and some patterns.

Booties
Booties

Jeans hit the runway with gusto. A few collections also added deep, shaded colors or neutrals such as gray. There is a return of the waistline to the natural point – something I really like.   The lower waist jeans are generally only flattering to an hourglass or triangle with the hip sloping into the waist. For those rectangles, ovals, figure 8’s and inverted triangles, these low-rise jeans often accentuate your widest point, and the tummy. Worse still, it can results in a “muffin” top. Skinny jeans rule. If you are a triangle or wear a larger size, you might want to take a pass on this look. There are a few boot cut or straight cut jeans available but you have to search.

Wedgie Boots
Wedgie Boots

Boots, boots, boots!   Boots are by all measures, the top fall fashion statement. Booties make the dominate impact but you will find riding boots, work boots and every variety of booties that can be imagined. No wonder skinny trousers are so important! If you have boots of any height, they should be shown off. In the style show, booties were shown with wide legged pants that came to the top of models booties.   This is an extreme look that I suggest only for the young, trendy dresser. Having searched the internet, I find that most designers who include wider trousers in their collection, show them coming almost to the floor, nearly covering whatever shoe is worn.   Keeping the appearance of a long leg line will make you appear taller and slimmer, not to mention more put together.

All dressed up
All dressed up

If you only go for one fall fashion trend, you may want to find the perfect boots! Nordstrom’s leads the stores I checked out with 2700 different styles.   That means you have thousands of choices among all the stores. Who wouldn’t love digging into those possibilities to find the perfect pair?

 

All images from Saks.

What’s in Your Pocket?

 

The Pocket from the WSJ
The Pocket from the WSJ

 

The common, pedestrian pocket is reappearing in new designer collections. Who would have ever thought that designers ranging from the patriarch of American fashion, Oscar de la Renta, to young, up and comers like Joseph Altuzarra would feature the humble pocket in their collections.

Pockets were typically incorporated into designs in the 1800’s so a lady could discretely hide her handkerchief and her smelling salts.   (I may not like every new fashion but at least they don’t include corsets to create a 22” waist  and causing us to faint.) Whether it was the popularity of the purse or just shifts in fashion, pockets have been out of favor for many years.

If you have ever tried to juggle a glass of wine, hors d’ourvres and a clutch purse, you appreciate the practicality of a pocket. I love being able to hide a lipstick and a tissue in a pocket so I can be hands-free! Then there is the panache created when one poses with a hand in a pocket.

January Jones at the Emmys
January Jones at the Emmys

Of course, with every good thing, there seems to always be a down side. Pockets can add width unless expertly incorporated into the design. Fitted slacks or skirts will be the most unforgiving. To use a pocket on these fitted garments, they work best when they lie flat and are done at an angle.  Neither do these designs allow for anything in the pocket thicker than a credit card. On skirts, as some of these examples show, the pocket is incorporated into the seam of a garment where it is hidden by the skirt volume. In any design, the pocket is only intended as a hiding place for emergency necessities. It doesn’t take much volume to cause a pocket to bulge or sag.

One personal shopper for Bergdorf Goodman for 40 years stated that said one of the most common alterations her clients have done over the years is removing a pocket.  Selecting the right style and using the pocket judiciously offers you the convenience of a secret hiding place without adding width.

Enjoy this new trend while it lasts!

 

Customer turns Designer

Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design.  WSJ
Ulyana Sergeenko wearing her own design. WSJ

It is rare when one who loves designer clothes is able to pull off going from top couture house client to designer, offering her own haute couture line of $30,000 dresses and $80,000 coats. Ulyana Sergeenko has done just that. Ms. Sergeenko caught the attention of fashion photographers a few years ago when attending runway shows wearing her own creative designs. Although she has no formal training, she made her own clothes under the adoring eye of her grandmother (her babushka) growing up in Soviet Kazakhstan.

2014 Fall Collection
2014 Fall Collection

Cabbage rose prints, a symbol of grandma-style flowers, are often included in her designs. Ulyana’s collections are inspired by fashions from former Soviet Union satellite countries, fantasies from her childhood, and old-world techniques carefully researched by her and her partner. Her collections are noted for their difficulty and attention to proportion.

Fall 2014  KGB inspiration
Fall 2014 KGB inspiration

Ms. Sergeenko’s husband is billionaire head of Russia’s largest insurance company. The couple has two small children but this is not just a little hobby for Ulyana. She and her partner, Frol Burimskiy search out the villages that make the finest embroideries or the best enamels and then send their studio staff out to work with the local artisans. During the Soviet era, wives of party members went to private ateliers to buy their clothes. Ms. Sergeenko and her partner want to preserve this history of unique designs, beautifully executed.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

It all began with Ulyana creating unique looks for her own wear. Then she encountered super-model Natalia Vodianova at a party. Natalia complimented her on her dress and subsequently made introductions to the right people in Paris. One of those was Alex de Betak; industry show producer. He found her modest high necklines and long skirts refreshing compared to recent loud, over the top Russian designs. Betek’s stamp of approval has enabled Ulyana to participate in the Paris runway shows since 2012.

Fall 2014
Fall 2014

The Ulyana Sergeenko line is not available in stores but clients are measured and orders taken direct from her atelier.

Fall 2014   A grand entrance.
Fall 2014 A grand entrance.

Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are among her famous clients.   At this point, her partner says they are at the break-even point in their business.   Key players in the fashion industry are encouraging the label to include handbags, sunglasses, fragrance and décor. I think we will see much more of this talented young designer.

Shift into Fall

 

Saks
Saks

Stores are filled with one of the most wearable styles for most body shapes–the shift. This style is ideal for a rectangle and can work well for both a figure eight (that is the person with slim hips but a high hip bone) and an oval body shape. Since the waist is not defined in a shift, anyone who wants to camouflage her waist or tummy area can find a shift that flatters. An hourglass can wear a shift but one might ask, “Why?” when you can show off a defined waist. The shift is a good choice for an inverted triangle but it is generally doesn’t work as well for a triangle.

Let’s talk about how to wear some of these shifts.

This grey shift featuring a design through the hip area is a

Saks
Saks

creative way of adding interest to the simple lines. They eye is immediately drawn to the hip area, visually adding width. Not good for someone trying to camouflage width or a tummy. This could be a great way for an inverted triangle to create width through the hips to balance wider shoulders.  One caution, these little cap sleeves and boat neckline could make shoulders appear wider. A rectangle could also wear this dress. Since the dress is very short, I would suggest wearing black tights.

Saks
Saks

The royal blue is really more a trapeze dress and offers greater width through the mid-section. This would be ideal for an oval or someone who wants to hide a tummy or a wider mid-section.   This is one shift that would be great on a triangle. I like the detail at the neckline because it draws the eye up to your face. If sleeveless is not your best look, why not find a sheer complementary fabric and add some sleeves?

This black with white trim already has sleeves. Like the blue, the white trim draws your eye up to the face. Wearing tights here will elongate and slim the overall

Saks
Saks

look.

This shift with the contrasting panel on the side, visually breaks up the width and diminishes the width of the wearer. Tights would make it more office and/or age appropriate. Tights also can help elongate and slenderize wider legs.

With fall officially here, is it is time for you to shift from summer and shift into fall?