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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Review of Spring Continued

By Bridgette Raes

Last week, I reviewed five of the ten new spring trends found in Marie Claire’s article, The Ten Looks You’ll Want This Spring, which is showcased in their February issue. As promised, this week I am tackling the remaining five trends from this Marie Claire article in an effort to give you some guidelines on how to incorporate these trends into your spring wardrobe.

So onto the remaining five

Marie Claire’s Must Have #6 - Polished Pantsuits

For most women, the pantsuit (or a suit in general) is no longer a necessity in the workplace any longer. Many of my clients who do work in a corporate environment tell me that their office dress code is business casual. Even though the suit is passé in many offices, I still think it is important to have at least one suit on hand in your wardrobe.

But what if your lifestyle doesn’t dictate that you need to wear a suit? While a pantsuit seems like an unnecessary and expensive purchase, every woman should have at least one suit on hand that becomes a versatile multi-tasker. This suit needs to be on hand for funerals, interviews, luncheons, functions, evenings out, etc. Most women automatically assume that a black suit would be the most versatile color to choose. While choosing a black suit isn’t a bad way to go, I think there are other color choices that work better. The most versatile color I would choose would be grey. Why grey? Firstly, a medium grey color is considered a universal color which works with all skin tones. Black, on the other hand, does not work for everyone. In addition, grey can be worn more universally. A grey suit is a better interview color than black as grey evokes feelings of loyalty in others, while black does not have the same effect. Still not sold on grey? Black, while it seems funeral appropriate, is also incredibly trite. You don’t have to wear black to a funeral and grey does the job equally well, as long as it is partnered with more understated colors. A funeral is not the time to wear a juicy spring colored print with your grey suit. Lastly, and I know I sound like a broken record, but any color that can be worn with black, can be worn with grey. In my opinion, grey looks ten times more sophisticated than black does when worn with color. Plus, you can also wear brown with grey, something that you can’t do as easily with black. Lastly, you can take grey to evening by simply making sure that the rest of the components are evening appropriate. As far as fabric goes, if this is going to be the only suit in your wardrobe, choose a versatile fabric like a flatter, lighter weave fabric such as a lightweight wool or wool blend with little to no texture.

Marie Claire Must Have #7 - The Easy Dress

Can it be that the dress is finally making a triumphant return? The dress market has been dead for some time now. In fact, years ago, when working as a designer, I vividly remember the dress division trying to figure out how to revive the dress for day because for the past few years dresses were only selling for evening. Fashion is cyclical and while the skirt has been in the forefront, the dress is picking up momentum.

Let’s take a look at the word “easy”. Looking at Marie Claire’s use of the word “easy dress” doesn’t mean that the dress has to be relaxed in look. So don’t worry gals, this doesn’t mean that we will all be walking around in muumuus this spring. I find this to be a relief considering I am a big proponent their being shape and fit in clothing to make you look slimmer. Easy, according to Marie Claire, means effortless or simple.

If you try a dress on for spring and it feels and looks boring, keep in mind that the dress is merely the foundation of the total outfit. You have to do something with it to make it exciting. The answer is accessorizing. Don’t forget to finish the look!

Marie Claire Must Have #8 - The New Coat

Every wardrobe needs a hit of novelty to add some spice and personality. This spring, according to Marie Claire, is the “strategically purchased killer coat”. Here are some key points to take into consideration when purchasing your “killer coat” for spring.

Marie Claire’s recommendation is to purchase a great coat which will make the underpinnings you wear with it a moot point. Ok, love Marie Claire, but hate this advice. While it is a great recommendation in theory, how many of you walk around all day in your coat (even if it is a light-weight spring duster style)? What are you supposed to do when you take your coat off? A statement coat is fun but make sure that you don’t have to keep it on all day to look stylish. Yes, I agree with Marie Claire that if your coat pops keep the rest of your outfit relatively simple, but before leaving the house, make sure that when you do take your coat off, you still like the way you look.

Another bit of advice from Marie Claire that had me concerned was their recommendation of a “full-volume cut” in the coat as being a perfect accompaniment to full-bodied skirts and dresses this spring. Ok, does Marie Claire want us to get lost in tons of fabric? This idea is pretty and theory but can be disastrous in application. Remember, don’t just listen to the trend reports and follow like blind sheep. Try this one out and don’t buy anything if you think you look like a pup-tent.

Marie Claire Must Have #9 - Heels

The two big trends in heels this spring, according to Marie Claire, are platforms and ankle straps. I may be thin, but when I read ankle straps, I am reminded of my thick ankles and decide to not even consider this trend. I am also 5’7” and must ask myself if platforms are right for me.

This is where trend dictation needs to take a backseat to your own lifestyle, physical characteristics and personal style. Not sure if you are going to partake? Here are a few guidelines:

If you are petite, have large ankles or calves, short legs or small feet then step away from the ankle straps. The horizontal line of the strap can make your legs look shorter and wider. Lovely, right?

Platforms are fun and can obviously make you look taller. But they can also make your feet look shorter and stubbier. Avoid a very round toe if you want to wear a platform shoe if your feet are already short as a platform with a rounded toe will make your feet look shorter. Platforms can also look very retro. When I think platforms, I either think 1940’s or 1970’s. As Marie Claire advised, and I agree, the platform can be your “over- the-top-statement”, so make sure everything else you wear with these platforms isn’t too over the top or a throwback to yesteryear.

Marie Claire Must Have #10 - Detailed Bags

This trend excites me because I have been preaching it for years. Keep your outfit simple and bang it out with accessories including the detailed, or as I like to call it, statement bag. One of my biggest pet peeves is a boring, nothing handbag. Many women don’t realize if they just chose a functional AND interesting bag that showcased their personality, they would be well on their way to being more stylish.

A very common argument that I get from clients when I encourage them to purchase a stylish, statement bag is that it is too much to think about. They automatically assume that if I am recommending a statement bag that I am also recommending that they go through the routine of changing their bag frequently to work with their outfits. This is not the case. Just because you choose a statement bag does not mean it doesn’t have to be versatile. Like Marie Claire says in their article, “Splurge on one fabulous handbag to reflect your personality, and take it everywhere you go.” Sounds like good advice to me.

Let me give you an example of this advice. I worked with a client this past month. Often choosing to shop for accessories after clothing has been bought, my client and I were finishing up our shopping together by looking for a great handbag. While shopping we found this stunning and versatile handbag by Michael Kors at Lord and Taylor. It was a medium brown shade that was both stunning to look and versatile. When we met up in her closet after finishing our shopping together, I showed her how this bag (which was an investment) could be worn with just about every outfit in her closet. From casual to work, she could tote this bag along. The bag was big enough, versatile enough and functional enough for her life, but at the same time eye catching, stylish enough and a true statement of her style. Don’t buy the illusion about handbags ladies, you can have it all stylish and functional in one bag. Toss those inconspicuous, ugly standard bags out the window. You don’t need them.

(c) 2005 Bridgette Raes Style Group

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