When Jackie Kennedy became First Lady, fashionistas couldn’t get enough of what she was wearing. She was only 31 when she became First Lady but she had an amazing sense of style for a woman of any age, let alone someone as young as she. Of course she grew up in “blue blood” society but her sense of style was extraordinary.
Jackie’s skeletal figure was complemented by garments tailored as a pieces of sculpture; the perfect choice for her shape. Of course she was beautiful and poised, always presenting the ideal image for the First Lady. When President Kennedy traveled to France, she introduced him to the audience with her perfect French. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand.
Our First Ladies have each had their own style and have played an important role in supporting their husbands but there is something special about a beautiful, young leader in the spotlight. The British love their queen but Kate and Will capture the majority of press.
Now we have another young – age 46 – and beautiful First Lady elect. Having been a model, Melania Trump understands which styles look best on her curved hourglass figure. And, just as Jackie Kennedy, it has not been her custom to shop at Target or Walmart. Melania’s wedding dress is reported to have cost $200,000! Born in Slovenia, Melania speaks six languages fluently. She follows Louisa Adams (1825-1829) as the second First Lady to be born outside the United States.
Now we will be waiting to see what Melania chooses for her inauguration dress. Michelle Obama chose unknown designers for her inaugural gown and other gowns, helping to launch their careers. Based on her role in the campaign, I would anticipate that Melania will not seek to be in the spotlight but the spotlight will undoubtedly seek to be on her!
Each season the big question is, “What pieces can I add to my wardrobe to fashionably step into the new season?”
I want to share some recent suggestions of Teri Agins, New York fashion Columnist.
Military Jackets: This is the season to add a fitted navy military jacket complete with brass buttons, braid and military details for the perfect update for your favor jeans. This jacket needs to be sculpted to your body but it will add a snappy upgrade for tailored slacks and other separates as well.
Tired of the traditional basic sheath dress? This simple addition will transform that sheath from basic to dramatic. You will find bell sleeves on not only dresses but sweaters and jackets. Let the bell sleeve add a note of drama when you make a sweeping hand gesture.
Pumpkin: This is not just for Halloween. If you have noted that a bright pumpkin color is cropping up more and more, it’s not your imagination. This bright color is once again on the popular list this fall. Orange is not an easy color to wear so choose wisely. If you have cool toned skin, orange will tend to turn your face into a pumpkin color. It can be beautiful on the person with warm toned skin. Consider trying other shades of orange such as peach, apricot, or coral to find the right complement for your coloring.
Boots with stacked heels: After years of stilettos, take a break with one of the many boot selections featuring sturdy stacked heels. These will be a more casual look so will work best pants or sporty outfit. Your feet will love you for it!
Choose one or two of these suggestions and – Voila! – you have a whole fresh look for the fall/winter.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, born August 19, 1883, remains one of the most influential couturiers in women’s fashion. Perhaps the loss of her mother and abandonment by her father drove her to make the most of her life.
Coco’s nickname was established when she was a cabaret singer. It was also there that she met the first of her wealthy lovers. Her background would never have allowed them to marry her but their influence and funding were invaluable in helping her succeed. Coco loved comfortable clothes that accommodated her active life. She often raided her boyfriend’s closet and adapted his clothes to a style of her own providing the comfortable attire she loved. Her first venture was a hat shop in Paris financed by her wealthy boyfriend at the time.
The First World War brought occupation of Paris so Coco followed the multitude of wealthy Parisians who escaped to the north of France. There she began creating more casual clothes and clients loved them.
The war contributed greatly to women accepting the more casual and comfortable designs Coco made. Men had to go to war and women began going to work in the factories. Certainly factory work could not be done in the styles of the day. Chanel’s more casual, comfortable designs were ideal for the working girl. By the end of the war, they were widely accepted throughout the fashion world and Chanel was on her way.
Her areas of influence in fashion are too numerous to mention but an article I recently read, chose five of her favorite quotes that I thought an appropriate tribute to this fashion trailblazer.
- Always wear lipstick! Preferable red. “If you’re sad, if you’re disappointed in love, put on your makeup, give yourself some beauty care, put on lipstick, and attack.”
- Have a Signature Scent! “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Coco believed that everyone needed a signature scent to make a lasting impression. Chanel No. 5 was launched in 1921 and reportedly sells a bottle every 30 seconds. She may have been right!
- Embrace Your Individuality. Chanel followed this rule personally by pioneering the concept that if a woman looks comfortable , she will feel comfortable. She can be herself. Chanel stated it this way: “In order to be irreplaceable, you must be different.”
- Choose the right shade. Color is one of the most important aspects in showing you off at your best. Whether choosing the color for your dress or the perfect shade for your make-up Chanel’s philosophy was, “The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”
- Aging Gracefully. “At 20, your face has been given to you by nature; at 30, your face has been fashioned for life; but at 50, it is up to you to deserve it.” Embrace the changes that occur as you age. Take care of your skin and enjoy the beauty of a more mature you.
All designers hope to have that new hot item that everyone wants to own. One of the big winners this fall is Gucci’s leather, backless loafers lined with brown fur. For whatever reason, these shoes, priced at nearly $1000, flew off the shelves and now have a wait-list.
True, not many of us have a budget to even consider buying something so obviously trendy but we are all faced with the dilemma of choosing that one-season item that will be great fun, add the right updated note, and not fall into the category of “What was I thinking?” This weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an excellent article with suggestions on choosing wisely.
“Any time a designer hits the right balance and makes a piece that’s coveted by women globally, there’s a real emotional response,” said Roopal Patel, fashion director at Saks. The key is to find that “IT” item that you absolutely love, then get it early before it becomes ubiquitous. Ms. Patel suggests moving away from it a bit after it has become really popular so you don’t find yourself in a room with several other ladies wearing the same item. Bring it back at an unexpected moment where you are wearing it by yourself.
Stylist Tabitha Simmons says she never gets rid of once-trendy pieces but she introduces them back into her wardrobe paired her way – never wearing what resembles a costume. If you absolutely love a trendy piece, something about it speaks to you. The key is to choose items reflect your personal style. By combining a new trend with some of your existing pieces, you have updated your look without letting it “speak too loudly”.
Another way to enjoy a new trendy item is to choose that one hot new item as the single accent for an existing basics look. One stylist to some of the movie stars, suggested choosing a trendy fringe bag to accent a basic button-up shirt with leather leggings and flats. How simple is that?
Each season brings trends that are hits and ones that fade away as distant memories. When you decide to buy something that you know will only be “in” for a season, have an expiration date in mind. The article suggested March, 2016 for the Gucci loafers. No doubt the fur will be tired and dirty by that time and you will be ready to say good-by. These may fall into the “What was I thinking?” category.
Hermés – The most sought after handbag. The caché of owning a Berkin or Kelly handbag by Hermés is most women’s dream of having “made it”! Each was named for the celebrity whose name became synonymous with their favorite handbag.
Several years ago, I found a beautiful copy of the Kelly bag in a specialty shop in Florence, Italy. Instead of costing several thousands, it was a few hundred so I succumbed. That year while we were skiing in Vail, I was carrying the bag when we went to dinner. The hostess took one look at my bag, trying to be as subtle as possible, commented on what a beautiful bag I was carrying. I just smiled and thanked her while basking in the deception. There is something about why these bags are the most sought after in the world.
Now, Hermés has just introduced the Octogone Bag in Epsom Calfskin, hoping it will become equally desired. The Octagon has a bit more boyish styling, sporting a simple shape resembling a throat lozenge with a sporty striped woven strap. Previous new designs, though lovely, have not been able to match the allure of the Berkin or Kelly. With more casual attire becoming the norm worldwide, the Octagone might just become the new “It” bag!
Chanel – Classic tan low-heeled pumps with black contrast. These shoes have been copied by other shoe manufacturers for years. In an era where the higher the heel and the more unusual the shape seem to be the order of the day, Chanel reintroduces this classic with minor changes. The heel is slightly lower and a bit thicker and there is a sling back instead of being a classic pump. This shoe is not designed to be worn with the traditional Chanel tweed suit or with anything too delicate. It is recommended that one pair it with modern denim and oversized sweaters. The lower heel and sling back do indicate a more casual look but I think the shoes would work very well for the office. What could be better than shoes that look attractive and you can actually walk in them?
If past history is any indicator, you won’t miss out if these are over your budget or if you need a more specialized size. This new Chanel classic will most likely endure for a long time so you wait for copies to come out with wider choices of sizing at greatly reduced prices.
As we look toward fall, our thoughts turn to what do we need to update our fall wardrobe. It is interesting to see the similar wardrobe habits of some Vogue executives.
Anna Wintour, executive in chief of American Vogue, is in a class by herself. In her position, she is in constant contact with designers and everyone in the fashion industry and has some responsibility to represent the industry showcased by her magazine. Her annual clothing budget is somewhere over six figures according to reliable sources. This may be why she keeps her hairstyle and sunglasses as her real signature. Certainly, her beautiful clothes do not always represent her style.
A quick look at two other Vogue executives, gives a completely different side of how
fashion executives define their own looks. Emmanuella Alt, Editor in Chief of Vogue Paris has a simple style of her own as does Tonne Goodman, Vogue fashion director. These ladies echo others who work in fashion all the time. After working with the collections for months, then watching these styles being snatched up by the public, most of these women avoid anything that resembles the latest new trend. They each have a basic “uniform” made up of approximately 10 pieces of neutral colored items that can be easily interchanged, and updated from season to season. Add a new favorite blazer, moving to an updated style of pant leg or adding a fun shoe may be all that is needed to freshen the look. Frequent travel is simple with such a basic, versatile wardrobe. This is similar to my basic wardrobe plan of 8 items from which you can make 27 outfits.
Emmanuella is six feet tall and Tonne is only slightly shorter. Both ladies can wear slender cut jeans thus making these items a staple in their wardrobes. To quote a stylist who works with celebrities, “..the key to making a signature look work year after year is to be consistent but not fall entirely into a rut. It’s funny, but you have to keep updating your uniform.” Figuring out your uniform is perhaps the most difficult part. Most of these ladies work around a neutral palette – black, white, gray and navy. The challenge is to know who you
are, which styles work best for you and to know if you need more color accents.
I love the simplicity of having fewer basic pieces that can be worn in many combinations. Understanding yourself and how to best project your individual style is key. I could never work with a completely neutral palette. There has to be color! Since most of us don’t work around fashion all of the time, we probably need some pieces with more style and creativity. Model and author Caroline de Maigret, recommends that you take time to evaluate your physical assets and weaknesses to help choose what are your favorites. Parisians are known for their “effortless look” but it takes a lot of effort to figure out who you are and what 10 items you want as the key components of your wardrobe! It is worth it!
Prada has always had the reputation of being on the cutting edge of fashion. Their nylon backpack handbag in the 1980’s dominated the market. Since then, they have introduced modern, creative and sometimes far out, styled shoes and multiple iconic handbags. Of late, however, their leather sales have been waning. The company is now, introducing their newest offering of that “Must-Have” handbag—the Inside Bag.
The Inside Bag is a boxy, rectangular bag that zips shut, featuring two sturdy arm straps. What is unique is the simple inside bag, also zipping shut that is attached at the bottom. This design is intended to add multiple convenient divided spaces and to prompt that knowing look of recognition from other in-the-know handbag aficionados when the outside zipper is left open to expose the contrasting colored inner bag.
This handbag is deliberately designed to be more versatile, offering three sizes, a variety of colors, and choices of leather. Prada’s hope is that women will want several of the bags in various colors and sizes. A clothing line always brings company recognition but the real money is made in accessories. Prada is hoping this bag turns their slumping sales numbers around.
What especially struck me about this bag is how closely it resembles one of mine that had belonged to my aunt Jane. The bag has to be forty years old but looks new. Each time I carry it, I have such warm memories of Aunt Jane and have never failed to receive compliments. It could easily be mistaken for this small size Prada in white ostrich. How fun is that?
Images from WSJ article 6-18-15
From its humble beginnings of serving the gold miners, laborers, and cowboys, denim is now a fashion favorite. “It’s no coincidence that jeans are worn by billions of people all over the planet every day,” said Jason Denham in a recent WSJ article. Mr. Denham is founder of Amsterdam-based denim label (you guessed it) Denham!
When I was a little girl growing up on a cattle ranch in northeastern Oregon, my daddy wore jeans all of the time. He was a real cowboy and there was definitely a code for wearing jeans. No self-respecting cowboy would wear any brand but Levis and before I was born real cowboys never washed their jeans! Oh horrors! I suspect that changed as these rugged men brought wives into the picture.
Today, denim has entered the mainstream fashion world. The question now is not whether one should have a pair of jeans, but it is choosing the right quality. It really has little to do with the fancy pocket stitching denoting which expensive brand one is wearing but it has more to do with the quality of workmanship. Experts interviewed in the article suggested turning the jeans inside out to confirm that the fabric and stitching feel solid and durable.
You often pay extra to have the fabric treated to mimic years of wear but why not try adding your own aging process. Try wiping your hand on your thighs to create a 3-D effect along the natural horizontal creases. Many purists do not believe in washing their jeans and definitely not having them dry cleaned. If you do choose to wash them, use a gentle warm or cold water cycle and a mild detergent. Then hang them to dry.
Men can toss on a blazer with a great dress shirt open at the collar over their jeans and be ready for a casual day at the office or meeting friends for drinks. You might not want to wear those jeans that look like you have spent the week on a construction site!
Ladies can go from a very dressy jeans look with silk blouse, dressy sweater, jewelry and heels to popping on a casual jacket over a cotton shell for a more casual look.
At this moment in history, jeans are in! And…..Daddy was right! It’s all about quality and you don’t have to wash them! Full circle, indeed.
Let’s reflect back on some of the notable happenings in the world of fashion for 2014.
Let’s Leave It in 2014!
Pharrell’s vintage oversized Vivienne Westwood hat. He is a talented guy but the hat can stay in our memories of ’14 – far back in our memories!
Blanket coats. The Row, Ferragamo and Chloé were among the noted
designers who presented the blanket coat. Burberry Prosum is, perhaps the best known designer offering actual blankets used as coats. This was not a joke and was not intended for a picture around the campfire on a cold evening. It was “style”. Enough said.
A Sad Good-by to Oscar de l Renta
Oscar de la Renta has been one of America’s best loved designers for fifty years. Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush both wore his designs. Oscar de la Renta was the personification of style and being a gentleman. His collections were consistently beautiful creations and could be worn by a wide variety of ladies.
He was able to present his spring collection last fall and to create the wedding dress for George’s Clooney’s bride before losing his fight with cancer. I have never owned one of his creations but had the pleasure of attending a style show that he hosted. His loss will certainly be felt in the US fashion world.
Prince George steps into the fashion spotlight.
We have loved watching Prince William and Kate take their royal responsibilities so fashionably. Now there is baby George. He was recently photographed looking every bit the dapper 16-month old prince. Royal fashion watching is taking on a whole new charm with this impeccable young couple, baby George and the little brother or sister expected in a few months.
Look for 2015 to bring much news to the fashion world – and no doubt, to included the good, the bad and the ugly!