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Fall 2010 Trend Alert: Plaid Madness!

13 Sep

This fall, designers have got it plaid! Expect to see plaid making a strong appearance in stores throughout 2010. However, it seems especially perfect for fall; when you get that back-to-school feeling, throw on a plaid shirt or skirt! If you’re interested in adding a little plaid to your wardrobe, here are some items that fit the bill.

A look from Christian Dior Fall 2010 runway.

If you’re in the mood for plaid, you can’t go wrong with something from Burberry! When you feel slouchy on a rainy day, their charcoal check rain boots make it easy to dress up. You can find them for $225 on Zappos.com:

The charcoal version of Burberry's traditional caramel check pattern gives the classic a twist.

If you want to dress up for realsies, this Perthshire plaid dress, $168 at Anthropology, is a great example of schoolgirl plaid with some personality:


I like the way this skirt is gently gathered into a soft flounce–very fun. The visual interest created by the asymmetrical neckline also adds a little attitude to an otherwise polite plaid.

For a great plaid dress at a more affordable price, check out this black and ecru buffalo plaid dress, $69.99 at Modcloth.com:


This dress is an example of Buffalo Plaid, which uses large squares (usually) of two main different colors- often red and black (the lumberjack plaid). I love the cowled neckline and hip pockets which create a great hour-glass silhouette, while the pyramid-studs on the elasticized belt gives it a little edge.

Since the plaid trend will carry over into winter, look to this Miss Sixty plaid belted coat–$148 at Nordstrom.com–to keep you warm:


The square buttons and shoulder epaulets update the coat and add a touch of this season’s military flare, while the waist-defining tie belt makes for a flattering look. I also like the front yoke flaps which highlight the coat’s oversized asymmetrical collar. Besides framing your face, these flaps will keep out the cold–a happy marriage of fashion and function.

Another way to incorporate plaid during the fall and winter season is with tights. Try these Launch plaid tights, $24.99 at Modcloth in a warm brown and blue Glen plaid pattern (FYI–like Buffalo plaid, Glen plaid usually has only two or three colors at most. The fabric is usually in tones of gray, brown, black or navy, with one stripe in a contrasting bright hue, like the blue here.):


Pair with a tailored brown skirt–maybe one with crisp pleats–for a great office-appropriate look.

Another easy and inexpensive way to add some plaid to your wardrobe is with a scarf. I really like the bold look of the green and blue color combination in this O’Neill plaid scarf, $31.95 on Zappos.com:

These days you’ll see a lot of women wearing scarves indoors, draped or tied around their neck, almost as a layer in a layered look; it’s an easy way to add a pop of color to an outfit. If you’re a fan of this look, check out this red plaid “collar” from Urban Outfitters ($19.99–was $38.99):

Could this be the pinnacle of hipster fashion? I love the bow shape, and think this “collar” idea is a great idea for any girl with a plaid fix. But, I think you need to wear it underneath a cardigan so it’s a more casual, layered look. Otherwise you run the risk of looking like a giant lumberjack baby wearing a giant plaid bib.

Finally, a plaid headband is an effortless way to add just a touch of plaid. Try searching Etsy for tons of beautiful, handmade options. Here are a few I found:

Love the autumn colors and adorable rosettes in this one! Only $8.50, by FoldingChairDesigns.

This Burberry inspired headband is a steal--only $13 at MrsBowtheMommy.

Fall 2010 Trend Alert: Half Moon Manicure

6 Sep

Want to nail this fall’s latest trend, and look cuteicle while doing it? You’ve got to try a Half Moon Manicure.

Also known as “The Cuban,” “Moon,” or “Gatsby” manicure, this trend puts a twist on an old classic–the French Manicure–by reversing it. Instead of white tips, the inner half moon shape at the base of your nail is white or left bare. Rumor is the Half Moon was invented in the 1920s by a manicurist for MGM Studios, though I haven’t been able to find out any specifics. Popular in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, the Half Moon Manicure has  been making a comeback since it appeared on the runway in Thakoon’s 2009 collection. This Fall, expect to see this chic, clean look everywhere; according to Elsa Deslande, the manicurist for the Dior fall couture show,“It is ‘le must’ in terms of elegance.” Well, ok, Elsa. We’ll take your word for it!

Because the technique for a Half Moon manicure can take some trial and error to master, initially, you might want to go to a salon to test-drive this look. If you like it, here are some ideas for making it easier to do yourself, and for taking this trend to the next level:

  • Use a “Stencil”:
    • Get some 3-Ring Binder Stickers from your local drugstore or office supply store, unpeel the sticker, and place them on the base of your nails. Then paint 1-2 coats on the top part of your nail, and when the polish is dry, remove the sticker, and you’ve got sleek Half Moons. This idea comes from Miss Glamour Girl blog and I love it because these stickers are easy to find, easy to use, and inexpensive–they’re the perfect tool to create a neat, flawless Half Moon.

Love this idea from Fab-YOU-lous Annie for a perfect half moon mani at home.

  • Go beyond the standard “French” colors:
    • Try using the reverse French Half Moon pattern, but with non-French-Manicure-colors, for a fashion-forward look. Word on the street is that the trendiest nail polish colors this Fall will be dusty rose, khaki brown, and a subtly minty gray–but if you’re not into those shades, pick your favorite and make the Half Moon your own. Take Dita Von Teese–she’s been rocking this look in retro lipstick red:

Ooo la la!

  • If you really want a high-fashion look, do a Half Moon + French Manicure:
    • Thakoon chose this look for his runway show, and I have to say, it’s not easy to pull off. But, if you want to make a statement with your nails, this might be for you. Here’s how Thakoon did it in black and white–you can see the half moon shape of the base of the model’s nails are white, then she has a black base polish, then white French manicure “tips” on the top of her nail:

Could you say this look is too matchy-matchy since she's also wearing a white blouse with a black collar?

What do you think?

Fall 2010 Trend Alert: The New “It” Fabric, Velvet?

28 Aug

I know you’re scared; I’m scared too. But just because velvet is trying to be this fall’s “it” fabric doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it.

I don’t know about you, but my biggest fear is that I’ll look like I’m really moody, I’ll look like I’ve forgotten my top-hat at home, and/or I’ll look like I’m wearing drapes. Not a good look for me–actually, the drapes-as-clothes-look doesn’t really work for anyone, unless you’re a one of the Sound of Music children, or else Scarlet O’Hara. So, while I understand W’s argument that velvet is the perfect way to add richness, drama, and romance to your wardrobe, I think to be on the safe side I’ll be careful about how I wear this luxe fabric. If you’re cautious about velvet too, here’s one thing to keep in mind: the more velvet being used, the simpler the shape should be. That should be a good rule to keep us both from looking over the top.

If you like the idea of a little bit of velvet going a long way, look for pieces of clothing that use velvet as a trim. Case in point: this T by Alexander Wang velvet trim pencil skirt, $99 at Nordstroms. The touch of velvet at the waist is subtle, and I love the gently twisted hem of the skirt–it’s flirtiness prevents the velvet from being moody.

A little bit of velvet goes a long way.

If you want more velvet in your skirt, check out this Savant skirt from I Don’t Like Mondays, $196 (60% off, originally $495):

The dark teal velvet in the skirt has a caviar beaded detail that camoflagues the velvet in a way. This detail, along with the great pleating of the skirt, gives the velvet a lightness that this material doesn’t usually have. It looks like a patterned fabric, and loses it’s heavy moodiness while still retaining a hint of richness.

A velvet purse can be a great way to get a lot of mileage out of the velvet trend because it’s a piece you can use with lots of different outfits. I like this crossbody version from Nine West, $69. The smaller size of the purse and the ladylike bow makes this piece a great fit for velvet.

Very, very girly. But what's so bad about that?

Along the same lines, a jacket is another way to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to investing in a trend–find one that’s versatile so you can throw it on for different occasions and you’ll get a lot of wear out of it. JCrew has several velvet blazers. I prefer this one, with its feminine details and soft color, to the more masculine “School Boy” blazers in black or brown.

For $168, it’s not cheap. But, if you’re going to buy one new jacket this fall, you could get a lot of wear out of this one–in early fall it’d keep you warm in crisp fall weather, then throughout the season this blazer could finish a look for the office, or, it could add some polish to a casual weekend outfit. JCrew calls it “buttery” and I have to say, that’s a good word to use.

If you’re looking for a velvet shoe, I wouldn’t even kid yourself and try to keep a velvet boot clean. Instead, go for velvet slippers you know you’ll be wearing inside (hopefully!) so you have a chance to keep them in good shape. If you like the feminine feel of velvet, Kate Spade doesn’t disappoint with these “Jaylee” flats, $250:

I like the constellations of sparkles in the velvet. But, if you think they’re a little too precious (not to mention expensive), try these simple House of Harlow “Baron” velvet ballet flats in forest green, $148:
If you do get your velvet shoes dirty, here are a few cleaning tips:

  1. Use a dry, soft, unused toothbrush. Don’t scrub hard, just brush any dirt or stained area repeatedly.
  2. If that’s not enough to clean the shoe, mix a teeny tiny amount of mild facial soap with some water until you create suds. Scoop some of the suds onto your toothbrush and gently wipe them on the stained area. Do not get the shoe wet–only use suds–then, blot the shoe dry with a clean cloth. Let the shoe dry for 20 minutes. If the stain remains, repeat.

Fall 2010 Trend Alert: Peplum Skirts, Jackets and Dresses

12 Aug
There’s good (left) and bad (right) peplum.

My fellow women with wide, child-bearing hips: beware.  A trend that is growing in strength will appear in stores this fall to tempt us into making ourselves look bulky and even wider. That trend is the peplum.

What is a peplum, you say? Well, it’s a short overskirt attached to a skirt, jacket, or dress, and it’s reared it’s head many a time in fashion, beginning in the 1800s and appearing most recently in the 1980s. You remember those Brat Pack era purple party dresses with a long tier of fabric falling from the waist? Well, they’re back, and with their flouncy, feminine feel, they may be hard to resist. But this trend isn’t for everyone. For those us that are wider around the waist, the trick is to look for pieces that reinvent the peplum in a shorter, tailored way, or use color blocking to balance out the extra volume the peplum will place around your hips. I’ve highlighted a few items below. Good luck, my friends!

It just isn't fair that Carrie Bradshaw can "carry off" any trend. (Had to do it. I can't resist puns! Sorry!)

I see this peplum dress around so much that I’ve started to wonder if it’s stalking me. Luckily it’s sequin bodice draws the eye up, which is more flattering for us hippier girls.  You can get this Alice + Olivia “Bethany” sequined bustier peplum dress for $495 at lots of stores–Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Saks. But, you can get it on sale for $346.50 at Chickdowntown.com:

I like how the army green color tones down the girly flounce of the peplum, but my favorite detail about this dress is the exposed zipper in the back, which zippers through the peplum:

The olive color makes this dress perfect for autumn.

The boning at the sides of the dress are another great detail as it will help provide a flattering, supportive fit to the strapless bodice.

If you want to go all out on the peplum trend, this Jason Wu dress is “major” as Rachel Zoe would say. Originally $2510 it’s on sale now for $1004 on Netaporter.com:
The genius of this dress is the color blocking effect that Wu achieves through varying the density of the tiny black bow embellishments on the dress. Here’s a close up of the silk-faille bow detailing:
By making the densest and most visually interesting part of the dress right at the boat neckline, Wu draws our eyes up to this blackest part, creating balance to the volume of the peplum flounce and the bright color of the yellow skirt. Essentially, rather than allowing the eye to focus on the volume of the peplum skirt, he keeps the eye moving around–a very good thing for girls with wider hips who want to wear this trend.

For a more affordable version of this trend, check out Forever 21’s offerings. In this lady-like dress Forever 21 achieves the same color blocking effect going on in Jason Wu’s piece through a camel colored skirt, solid black pleated chiffon peplum, and see-through black knit lace over the camel top. The black ribbon is also a nice touch–instead of drawing the eye up, as Jason Wu does, this black ribbon draws the eyes down, and in the same way, balances out the volume the peplum creates. Best of all, this dress will only set you back $32.

If you want to wear this trend to the office, look for a longer skirt, a shorter and more tailored or pleated peplum at the waist, and perhaps a more subdued color. This Kay Unger dress, $330 at Neiman Marcus, fits the bill:
You can see that compared to other dresses, this peplum is much more subdued. The pleated bust gives the dress a very sharp, tailored look, while the belt adds polishes while contouring your waist. Finally, the cut-in shoulders and small slit neck is interesting, while still being tasteful. All you need is a blazer or cardigan to take this dress from daytime at the office to a summer evening out.

Another way to wear the peplum trend at the office is with a jacket, like this velvet peplum jacket by Winter Kate, $295 at Neiman Marcus:

The cut of this jacket is very flattering, especially the cinch at the waist that falls into a gently ruffled peplum.  The velvet adds great texture to any office outfit and will carry this jacket through fall and winter. I love the sleeve length–it gives the jacket a great vintage feel.

Speaking of vintage, if you want to invest in a vintage piece that executes this trend, here’s the real deal–a blue silk velvet jacket from the 1930s, available for $189 from one of my favorite vintage sites, Poshgirlvintage.com:

I love the ruched collar that resolves into the flouncy peplum and the color is spectacular. Again, the cinched waist here is very flattering, and gives this jacket versatility–it can finish off the look of a dress, or plain old jeans. The style gurus at Poshgirlvintage added this belt for inspiration and I think it’s a great idea. You can dress it up even more with a skinny metalic melt, or go more casual with a chunky studded belt.

Skirts are another way to add some peplum into you work wear. I like this skirt from French Connection the best for the office because of it’s smart tailoring and side-pleated peplums:
The office-appropriate length and color make it a more verstaile skirt that you can mix and match tops with. Although, because of the detailing going on in the skirt, you might want to stick with a more straightforward blouse. For $148 it’s not quite a bargain, but it might be a good choice if you want to invest some money in the trend, since you’ll get more wear out of this skirt than a “louder” peplum piece.

The most important thing to keep in mind, if you want to wear this trend is to avoid the extreme ’80s peplum flare like the plague. Instead, favor a more demure flounce that calls to mind a 1930s or 1940s peplum suit.

Let the 1930s/1940s be your inspiration for following this trend.

This is because the fitted peplum is actually more figure flattering than the flared peplum, since it tends to de-emphasize the hips. The flared peplum will make just about anyone look bulkier.

RIP, 80s peplum.

Fall 2010 Trend Alert: “Mermaid” Asymmetrical Jacket and Dress Hems

28 Jul

No one wants to look like a fashion victim.

But, if you’ve ever watched “The Devil Wears Prada” you’ve probably familiar with that irrational feeling that if only you had a trendier wardrobe, your life would somehow be more exciting and glamorous. Unfortunately, it’s that feeling that nudges you towards buying those expensive designer cage heels that have been sitting in your closet for the past six months.

Somehow these never seemed right for the office, trips to CVS, or Trader Joe's.

Friends, I had that feeling today. I was in my Happy Place (Nordstroms)–their Anniversary Sale is going on now and I was on the hunt for a good deal. I went first to a Nanette Lepore rack and what did I see but an adorable tweed jacket that was 40% off:

business in the front...

Immediately I fell in love with the texture of the lightweight tweed. What is really striking (in person) is the deep cobalt-blue-purple color that has just a hint of shimmer thanks to a subtle gold thread running through the fabric. More than anything, I love the jacket’s fit. Two small snap buttons close it in the front, while the exposed zipper belt cinches the waist. Very light shoulder pads define the shoulders and helps to create a flattering silhouette.

So far, I love it! I’m beginning to imagine it with different blouses in my closet. Then, I turn around and get a big surprise. The back of the jacket has an asymmetrical hem with an off-center ruffle:

...party in the back

I catch the name of the jacket printed on the tag–“Mermaid.” This must be the inspiration: a flouncy little tweed mermaid tail.  It is so striking and weird…I find myself strangely drawn to it. But is it too weird to wear in my day-to-day life?

One things for certain, Nanette is taking the business-in-front/party-in-the-back approach to all of her jackets:

Nanette Lepore Hush Hush Leather Jacket, $848

Nanette Lepore 'Maddalena' Jacket, on sale at Nordstroms for $329 from $498

Other designers are on to this “mermaid” trick too. Turns out this asymmetrical hem is a full-on trend that appears to be coming to stores near you. Exhibit one, an Alice + Olivia “Clarissa” dress with a dramatic asymmetrical draped hem, $275, was not far away from Nanette’s rack on Nordstroms’ floor.  Here’s the front:
And the back:

We’ve seen asymmetrical hems many times before on skirts–and we’ve seen them on jackets too (in the front, as with zippers on leather jackets)–but the gathering/ruffled/draping look, as well as the placement over the hip, gives this trend a new twist for 2010. It-kid designer, Thankoon, plays with a similar idea in this dress, 50% off right now on shopbop.com ($395, originally $790):

The dress features asymmetrical smocking and pleating that drapes the fabric on the diagonal. Like the Alice+Olivia dress, it draws the eye flirtatiously across the bum and down the legs.  So, if this is an area you are happy to draw attention to, this trend may be for you.

Returning to jackets, I found another example on Net-a-Porter.com–this asymmetric “Anglomania” wool coat from Vivienne Westwood for $930:

ummm I kind of sort of love this...have I lost my mind?

I really like the sassy kick of the asymmetrical hem.  Wool coats are rarely so energetic and fun–this one has personality. Here’s a view from the back:

Look closely and you can spot the oversized button right under the model's hand.

Vivienne Westwood understands that butt buttons really make a jacket--for men and for women.

The oversized-button at the top of the asymmetric vent is a great detail that draws attention to the flounce of the diagonal line. Along with the oversized lapels, it’s also is a bit of a wink and a nod to the Mr. Darcy-esque dinner  jacket feeling of the piece.

So, back to the main question: is this a trend worth investing in? I couldn’t commit earlier today in Nordstroms, but the more I think about, the more I think I’ll be going back to purchase my very own little “mermaid” jacket. I have to say, I love the art of juxtaposition that this trend offers. In the Nanette jacket, for example, you get the tailored structure of the jacket and the prim feel of the tweed playing off of the flirty, unstructured drape of the asymmetrical hem. In each of the pieces in this post, you can see the asymmetrical hem adding visual and textural interest through the diagonal line created by smocking, pleating, or draping.

Still, this is not something I’d buy online. If you’re considering buying a piece that exemplifies this trend, make sure you try it on in person before you purchase. My sense it this kind of asymmetrical hem will be most flattering on top-heavy women, as the diagonal line will draw the eyes downward, shifting attention away from large shoulders, while adding a little volume to just below the waist that will balance out the upper body.

Have you seen or bought something with this new “mermaid” asymmetrical hem? If so, let us know what you think!