Keeping things close to the vest

Speaking of things that stump me, how about vests? On other people, like Kate Moss, they look really cool. I’ve just never really been able to figure out how to wear them (so I don’t look like a reject from Saturday Night Fever) and whether they can qualify as office-appropriate wear. Luckily, August’s issue of People Stylewatch has Tim Gunn’s (brief) take on vests. I must pause to say that I adore Tim Gunn! I would like him to tag-team with Christopher Walken in narrating my life for me; Tim can cover the tough decision-making moments — there is something so soothingly rational about his voice, critical yet encouraging at the same time … aahh! Moving on … His recommendation is to wear a slightly longer and leaner vest left open, instead of a cropped one that cuts off the line of the body. Unfortunately, the sole vest in my closet is cropped, but at least I can keep this advice in mind for future use. Tim also suggests pairing the vest with simple, classic pieces – this I can definitely do. With that in mind, I decided to try and build an outfit around an old H&M vest that’s been languishing, unloved, in my closet for years.
Unlike my vest, my cropped black pants are getting a lot of love these days. I’ve mentioned them before but I can’t rave about them enough; they go with practically anything and are as classic as it gets. So, of course, I had to use them here. Because the vest is white and grey, I decided to stick to the same colour family, and go with a plain, light grey top. The top has a cap sleeve, which seems to work, proportions-wise with the vest. Figuring out the appropriate sleeve length to go with vests has always been problematic to me – Tim Gunn, why did you not address this? To snazz up the outfit, I piled on a couple of necklaces (layered!), and to finish, classic black stilettos. I kinda like how the pointy toe of the shoe balances the pointy bits of the vest, which are otherwise a little awkward … but I may be a tad obsessive when it comes to details like that.
What do you think – a successful effort? Office appropriate? Or back to the drawing board?

One step at a time

Despite my aura of all-knowing-ness (carefully cultivated, thank you very much), there are many fashion-related tasks that stump me. Picking flattering shorts, for example. Others are so intimidating, I don’t even bother trying. That is why, until recently, I never even considered attempting to layer necklaces.The margin of error is so small, after all.
Every time I’d see a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker rocking the heck out of three wildly disparate necklaces, I’d remind myself to get a grip and stick to the basics, lest I end up looking like someone’s crazy old aunt. But now it looks like necklace-layering is here to stay (mixing gold and bright-coloured stones is the latest trend in that direction), so I decided to overcome my fear of failure and give it a try.
First off, let me say that layering your jewelry can be difficult depending on what pieces you have to work with. Not much of what I have immediately lends itself to layering, at least as far as I can tell. A lot of my pieces are what might be called “statement” necklaces — and it takes SJP-sized style cojones to try to mix those (see above). I also don’t have any of those delicate charm necklaces that are probably the most layer-able (new word alert!). I guess I don’t like making things easy for myself. I should also note that I went about this challenge purely on instinct, since I wasn’t able to find a handy guide on the topic, and judged the results by looking in the mirror. Anything not inspiring outright aversion I considered a “pass”.
One of the basic rules I was able to distill from my experiments was that, for beginners, it’s best to work with necklaces that are slightly different lengths, but not overly so. It’s also easier to mix pieces of either similar weights (delicate vs. heavy) or ‘like’ materials (same colour metals, pearls with pearls, etc.), although this is not a must. The more “bulk” you build up through layering, the more dressy the resulting look is likely to be.
Here are some combinations:

So, do you have any tips for layering?