Purses, Purses, Purses

If you follow the fashion magazines, you know the new important statement is to carry a dramatic handbag.   These new bags come in every color, texture and design.  They must be big and the prices start at expensive and go up from there.

Let’s look at why the purse has become so important.  As you are probably aware, imported clothing has become more expensive due to the diminished value of the dollar against other currencies.  People are buying fewer high priced garments and retailers are responding with sales starting earlier in the season.   This is all good for us, the consumer.   However, designers have discovered that purses are not as subject to seasonal style changes and are a very profitable part of their total business.  Thus, they offer a wide variety of styles and colors that are promoted as “must haves” with prices in the stratosphere.

I am struck by the size of the newer bags.   Looking through a promotional magazine from one store, I saw that the size generally starts at 12” X 12” and goes up to 23” X 35”.    This seems more like a piece of luggage than a handbag.  With the large bags being so popular, ladies are naturally carrying more items in them – gym shoes, lunch, baby bottles and diapers, you name it.    This is a windfall for chiropractors but our bodies are telling us that we are not designed to be beasts of burden.   From a style perspective, purse size needs to relate to your own body scale.   The handbag should be a total part of your outfit and not the center of attention.  If you are petite, a smaller–scaled handbag is needed.  If you are 6’ tall and large boned, you can probably carry one of the 10” X 17” bags.

The variety of styles can be puzzling as well.  Many bags offer cargo pockets, fringes, zippers, or rivet details.  These bags will never be formal so they work better with jeans or a casual outfit.  The material from which the purse is made helps determine where it will be appropriate as well.  Napa leather is more casual while smooth leather or reptile prints are more formal.   Purses with lace or fur trim will no doubt become dated much more quickly.   I would suggest finding a bag that works for the majority of your schedule.  If your world is mostly blue jeans and casual tops, one of the casual purses should work just fine but if the bulk of your time is in a suit environment, I would suggest choosing a classic style that will still work for casual wear.   For you jeans gals, be sure to have a cute clutch for that dressy occasion.  Nothing can ruin the look of a great party dress and heels like toting a big bag with rivets and fringes on it!  And have you ever seen a bride at the reception porting a large, leather shoulder strap bag?!

The last criterion to keep in mind is your build and facial structure.  If you have an angular build and/or angular bone definition in your face, choose a structured bag that is geometric.  If you have an overall soft, rounded, feminine appearance, choose a bag that has a rounded and soft feel to it.    By taking your bone and facial structure into consideration, you handbag choice will support your total look.

I hope these guidelines will be helpful when you are making your next investment at the handbag counter.  Don’t forget that any color works as long as it harmonizes with your general wardrobe.  Gone are the days of matched shoes and bag.  For you business women who need to carry a computer or business bag, choose one that has a section for your purse items.   Carrying a purse and business bag is cumbersome and takes away from your professional appearance.

Time to go shopping – in your closet

Now that we have looked at the top seven trends, let’s go shopping.  First stop is your own closet.

I do a closet assessment each season.  As I took a survey looking for items that reflect the new looks, I hit the jackpot!    The first item that caught my eye was a pair or berry shoes.  I had bought them two years – the closest I could find to red in a  narrow width.  They are like new and will compliment several outfits.   Continuing, I spied a satin blouse with touches of ruffles, worn only once.  This designer blouse with tags still attached, was a nugget discovered in a resale shop in Paris last year.   Finally, I remembered a dramatic necklace that I have had for some 15 years but had forgotten about.    That did it – four out of seven is not bad.   I’ll bet your closet has some treasures waiting to be discovered as well.

Next, I do my semi-annual purge of items that need to be retired.  I arrange my closet into categories – blouses, slacks, etc.  First, I check each garment for obvious sign of wear or spots.  If it looks tired or a spot can’t be removed, it has to go.  (If you find it hard to part with a special garment, put it in a “Sentimental” box and store it away from your closet.)  Next, I try on each item for proper fit including scrutinizing the back carefully.  This is an important step as we don’t see ourselves from the back and garments can stretch and bag or maybe those pulls line or gapes have gone unnoticed.  If it can be altered, it goes into an alteration pile.   If not, it needs to retire.  I then look for different ways of combining outfits for a new look.   I can fall into the trap of dressing on auto-pilot – so it is good to take a fresh look after not wearing that season’s clothes for a few months.  The blouse, shoes and necklace I found will make several new combinations.   Oops, I forgot to check out my shoes.  On reevaluating my favorite pair of boots from last year, I discover that they are due for retirement.

The final step is to make a list of which basics need to be replaced and what items should be added to give a well-rounded wardrobe for fall and winter.  I look at my various activities, the percentage of time I spend at each, and determine if I have something to wear for each occasion, complete with appropriate shoes and handbag.   For example, if you work, that wardrobe should comprise a large percentage of your closet, while if you go to the theatre twice a year, you may just need one outfit.   Another weak area for a lot of people is a great work wardrobe but nothing that looks smart for casual wear.  Now, is time to make the list of those items that will round out your wardrobe.   The “must replace” should have priority while the wish list can be added anytime you’re shopping or nosing through sales or discount stores.   It is such fun to happen on that perfect piece to complete or give a fresh look to an outfit.

If you are not accustomed to doing the semi-annual purge, it is a good habit to start.   The goal is to walk into your closet knowing that everything fits, is in good shape so the only choice needed is which combination you are going to wear today.  If this is too daunting a task, you can always give me a call.  Helping do a closet expedition is one of my favorite activities!



Japan Hime Girls

It seems each day brings new crisis to our news headlines so this Thanksgiving week blog is just frivolous.  The Wall Street Journal had a recent article that I found so amusing so I decided to share excerpts with you.

TOKYO – When Mayumi Yamamoto goes out for coffee or window shopping, she likes to look as though she’s going to a formal garden party.  One day recently, she was decked out in a frilly, rose-patterned dress, matching pink heels with ribbon and a huge pink bow atop her long hair, dyed brown and in pre-Raphaelite curls.

Ms. Yamamoto is a hime gyaru, or princess girl, a growing new tribe of Japanese women who aim to look like sugarcoated, 21st-century versions of old-style European royalty.  They idolize Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton, for her baby-doll looks and princess lifestyle.  They speak in soft, chirpy voices and flock to specialized boutiques with names like Jesus Diamante, which looks like a bedroom in a European chateau.  There, some hime girls spend more than $1000 for an outfit including a satin dress, parasol and rhinestone-studded handbag.

“When they come out with a new item, I can’t sleep at night because that’s all I can think about,” says Ms. Yamamoto of the Diamante dresses.  The 36-year old housewife has amassed a collection of 20 princess dresses in the past eight months and even decked out her bedroom with imitation rococo furniture.

While it may be in style among fashionable women in New York and London, black isn’t an option for hime girls, who prefer pink and florals.  They have a doll-like sense of beauty that requires effort and practice to attain.  To create the ideal “super-volume hair” curl only a few strands of hair at a time and alternate between inward and outward curls, advised Vanilla Girl, a fashion magazine for teenagers aspiring to become hime girls.  Dyed hair extensions can help form more dynamic ringlets, while mascara applied on top of fake eyelashes plus black liquid eyeliner can really accentuate the eyes.

Keiko Mizoe, Jesus Diamante’s top sales clerk and a former customer, says she sees the princess style as one befitting an elegant woman from an upper-class family.  The girls are “perfect, georgeous and feminine,” says the 24-year old, herself dressed in a red checkered dress, pink stockings in heart patterns and pink nails studded with crystals.

Ms. Mizoe, who the company says single-handedly sells about $95,000 in clothing each month, has become an idol among Diamante customers, who try to imitate everything about her.

Of course, princess fashion isn’t exactly practical.  Ms. Yamamoto, a housewife princess, says she gave up wearing the frilly dresses while she works opening cardboard boxes at an accessory store four hours a day.

Ms. Yamamoto says she has long adored pink and wanted to dress in feminine clothes, but felt shy about her plump figure.  After losing 33 pounds in recent years, she got hooked on Diamante’s tight-waisted dresses adorned with huge rose patterns, and estimated she spends $2000 or $3000 a month.  Her husband, an architect who loves Europe,  pays for most of her purchases.  Her parents, who live nearby, send the couple food so they have more money for Ms. Yamamoto’s shopping sprees.

Maybe we should all just lighten up and become hime girls!

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Excerpts taken from the Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008


Fall 2007 Trends

Lace – Like satin, lace is taking a prominent role in new trends for fall.   Although the variety ranges from delicate to bold to racy, I still consider lace inappropriate for daytime wear unless it used as an accent.   Likewise, the lace shoes (I have seen a range from ballerina flats to lace boots with 4” heels) have no place in most daytime settings.   For daytime or business, a delicate lace trim on a blouse or a lace camisole under a suit adds a subtle note of femininity.   Choose a lace that works with your bone structure, texture and personality.  If you have larger bone structure, a strong personality or curly hair (which adds texture), choose a stronger lace with obvious 3-dimenstional qualities.  Conversely,  if you are soft, feminine, or have delicate bone structure, a delicate lace will work better for you.   This year offers a wide selection for you to find the perfect lace for you.


Sleek Shapes – Oversized and sloppy is out.  Sleek, elongated is the big news.   Jackets and skirts are longer, hugging the body.  While many designers are showing a defined waist, there are still many styles to choose from that skim past the waist for those who are not an hour- glass figure.  There are lots of wide-legged trousers available – a great choice for the hour-glass and triangle (wide hips) figures.
These slacks need to just clear the ground so be sure to have them hemmed with the shoes you will be wearing.   A quick tip for handling the heel height – have two pair of your most worn slacks (black for example) and have one hemmed for flats and one for heels.    Monochromatic dressing lengthens the body as well – including opaque hose matching the skirt and shoes.

Romantic blouses – This season offers a wide range of tops incorporating ruffles, lace, rushing and you’re not limited to white.  There is a blouse in this mix for everyone and every occasion – even the most conservative business setting.   Just follow the parameters for lace to choose the right amount of ruffle or frill for your style and the setting.


Statement Jewelry – Whether real or faux, big jewelry rounds out the seven fall fashion trends.  This is the season to pull out all the jewelry you have had stashed away and show it off!  A well-chosen jewelry accent can make the most mundane outfit stunning.  Think monochromatic with  a statement piece of jewelry.  One caution note:  the scale of the jewelry needs to match your facial and body scale.   A petite person will be overpowered by large scale jewelry.


That wraps up the top 7.  Direct any comments to my  e-mail address.  Look forward to hearing from you.