Month: July 2010

The fashion huddle

Occasionally, my friends have sought my opinion on matters of style, knowing that, though not any kind of expert in such matters, I am always interested. I like to think that my opinion has been, at least on occasion, useful. And, if not useful, then at least entertaining. When I recently helped a dear friend with a sartorial question, I decided that it might be equally useful and/or entertaining for the readers of this blog to partake of the “fashion huddle”. Thus – an “agony aunt” column is born.
To start things off, here is the question that my friend had. I’m paraphrasing our phone conversation, which went something like this:
“I’m going to a stagette on the weekend, and I need to figure out what to wear. It’s not just any old stagette. It has a cowgirl theme. A sexy cowgirl theme. Yeah, I have no idea how people come up with these themes either. So, what do I wear? I liked what I wore to your stagette, but how can I make it work with the theme of this one?”
To refresh your memory, here is the dress she had in mind:

Let me begin by saying that my friend is not really the cowgirl type – and her closet reflects that. Given what I knew she had to work with, I think the dress was a good starting point. Although it’s not easily discernible from the picture, the dress has detailing around the neckline that gives it a “prairie” vibe — close enough to “cowgirl” for her purposes. Belted, it’s a very flattering look on my friend. I suggested switching up the belt and shoes for a more on-theme look. My pick: a brown, braided belt, along with brown open-toe shoes (a wedge would be fantastic). For the finishing touch, I recommended turquoise accents; set in silver, turquoise has that Santa Fe feel, which might pass for dressed-up cowgirl. I like doubling-up on accessories, although never in close proximity. So, in this case, I would go with either some turquoise earrings and a bracelet, or a turquoise necklace and a chunky ring. [I wouldn’t do earrings/necklace, or bracelet/ring because it’s a much trickier look to pull off. If the accessories are not in the right proportion to each other and/or the same colour, then it throws everything off.]
Navy and brown pair well together, and paired with turquoise they hint at “cowgirl” without beating one over the head with it. White would also be a good colour for this type of theme. As an aside, I did not recommend cowboy (girl) boots for my friend because, though undoubtedly suitable, they’re an investment that would not pay off for her – it’s not like she’s going to wear them regularly. Buying new accessories, like a belt, is a much more cost-effective way to deal with “special occasion” style dilemmas. 

The inspiration board

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Inspiration strikes

A friend of mine recently complimented me on the necklace I was wearing at the time, asking me if it was from Tiffany’s. For a split second, I considered playing coy, but then I told her the truth. It wasn’t; it just looked like it. 
First, let me say that I don’t hold with fakes. After reading up on the underground counterfeiting industry, I would never buy a knock-off anything ever again. Not because I care about designer brands’ profit margins, but because I would never want to give my money to the people who run these counterfeiting rings. I have a more difficult time with the ethics of “designer-inspired” items. Plenty of legitimate companies make a killing “borrowing” their inspiration from others; look at chains like H&M and Zara, for example. Every season, they cull the runways for new trends, sometimes taking over certain designer looks wholesale. As a consumer, what do you do? Do you go with what you’ve been taught since elementary school – plagiarism is bad – or do you go with your fashion instincts (and your wallet)? Is it a question of degree (how much the imitation deviates from the real thing)? A question of price (how likely it is that you will ever be able to afford the original)? Or simply a question of how much you like it?
I happen to have a few pieces of jewelry that could qualify as “designer-inspired”, so perhaps the answer for me is a little bit of #2. Much as I would like to, spending hundreds of dollars on a Tiffany’s necklace is not really in my budget, and Tiffany’s is not noted for its sales. So my key necklace (right) came from Winners instead, and it’s lovely just the same.

 

 

My trefoil necklace from Tristan (right) recalls the Alhambra collection from Van Cleef & Arpels (left).


 

This Banana Republic necklace (right) is reminiscent of a Lanvin piece (as worn by Claire Danes).

I guess that, when it comes down to it, I’m not willing to give up my “inspired” pieces … even if I feel a teensy bit guilty when people ask me if they’re the ‘real thing’. It’s a small price to pay for style, even if it comes second-hand.

What’s your stand on this? Do you wear “inspired” pieces and, if so, what are some of your favourites?


Office style

As a colour palette, white, grey and black are about as classic as you can get – and you will never go wrong with the classics. I love the subtle details of this outfit – the discreet polka dots on the blouse (which, sadly, don’t show up very well in the photo), the long black necklace, the tone-on-tone embroidery on the cardigan, and the contrast of the textures. The (white) watch is the perfect finishing touch.
 
Name: Jenelle
Occupation: lawyer
Style inspiration: adding a hint of unabashed girlishness to classic office attire
Details: blouse, Jacob; cardigan, Anthropologie; pants, Club Monaco; shoes, Michael Kors.