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.

Fashion seance

You might think that you’re living in 2010, but that just proves how behind the times you are. Fashion has moved on … 2010 is “so last year”. The 2011 resort collections are out, and has a handy slide show of top trends. You can view it here. And read on for my commentary.
First off, let me say that, having clicked through 50 pages of the slide show, I wasn’t blown away by any of the looks showcased. Even the Stella McCartney outfit – usually guaranteed to make me ache with the desire to spend money I don’t have – left me cold. That’s disappointing, especially as the snippets of Fall 2010 that I’ve seen in magazines so far have been pretty cool. Here’s hoping the rest of 2011 will be better.
The trends picked out by are:
Mixed prints. I must confess, I don’t really get mixed prints. Like, I get that it’s edgy and hip to mix patterns that don’t match, but I don’t understand why. Or how. I’m not a monochromatic sort of person; I love colours and I really love prints – just one at a time, though. But I’m trying to be more adventurous, so I decided to give mixed prints a try. Basically, I just threw everything and the kitchen sink in. 

OK, not quite. Actually, August’s InStyle has a handy guide to mixing prints; they suggest pairing a bold, decorative pattern (such as loud florals) with a geometric one (like clean polka dots) that is smaller in scale. They also recommend choosing separates in complementary colours and the same tonal family. Unfortunately, my closet leaves something to be desired when it comes to patterned separates (most of my skirts are monochromatic, the better to mix and match with my patterned tops), so this was the best I could do:

Umm … interesting?
White suits. In principle, I love the idea of white suits. In reality, a white suit poses twice the risks of white jeans. The cost is likely to be proportional; you might be able to get away with a cheap suit in an ordinary colour, but not so much in white. Also, where does one wear a white suit?
–  Cropped sweaters. This … I don’t know. On one hand, I like cropped cardigans over dresses, especially sheath dresses, because they can create the illusion of a longer line (and, height). On the other hand, I hate most other varieties of cropped tops, whether layered on top of longer tops (ugh!) or worn on their own (especially with pants). Also, cropped tops remind me of the 80s and … let’s just stop right here.
A touch of chartreuse. I think was reaching a bit with this one. Some of the looks they picked barely qualified as chartreuse (more like bright yellow). However, I love chartreuse and I love using it as an outfit accent colour – it’s a bit weird, so it’s unexpected. Think of it as the cool spectrum version of Shiaparelli’s shocking pink. At the moment, I’m also crazy about lime yellow, which is a sort of brighter, shock-ier version of chartreuse. It’s almost neon, but not quite, thus avoiding the 80s reference but keeping the cool, punchy vibe.
Hot pants. One word: no.
Head to toe prints. So, if you don’t like (or get) mixed prints, this is your alternative. Most of the examples of this seem to involve full-length jumpsuits, which are a personal “don’t”. As I mentioned, I like prints, but I’m not sure about the wisdom of covering oneself in print from the neck down to the toes – literally.
Colour blocking. It’s … meh. Kind of 80s, but not so much as to be horrendous. It can look geometric, which can be interesting on body-con type dresses. Not particularly original, though. Hence, meh.
Little bags with long straps. Generally, I find these annoying – they’re too small for my needs, and the length of the strap makes them dangle weirdly from my shoulder. Some people wear them cross-body, but that doesn’t appear to be the current “in” look. There is only one exception to my no-small-bags-with-long-straps rule:
Chanel 2.55
Long evening looks with flats. Basically, long dresses (or skirts) with flats – a tricky look. Sure, it looks nice and willowy and effortless on tall, lanky models. The general population is not as easily flattered by floor-length dresses, though, especially sans heels. Often, the look is not so much “willowy” as “drowning in fabric”. If you must try it, I would suggest making sure that you pick the right length (just below the ankle is probably best) and steering away from anything remotely empire-waisted. Contrary to popular conception, an empire waist is not universally flattering — it really depends on the cut and fabric of the garment (and how that fabric falls). For some reason, empire waists on maxi dresses often seem to be problematic, at least in my experience. I wonder how the ladies of the Regency period handled this issue, although I seem to recall that wetting down your dress was something of a sartorial “trick” back then. But maybe that was only among the “fast set”. Any history majors out there? Am I totally out to lunch?

Edited to add: it appears that the dress-wetting trend was started by the French (of course); ladies at the French court would apparently wet the bosoms of their muslin dresses in order to enhance … um, the obvious. No wonder the French court was such a popular destination.

Wow, how is that for a time-traveling detour?