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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Today’s Trendy Man is Buying

Recently I was thumbing through the Fifth Anniversary Issue Esquire 2011 Fall Big Black Book, which is the Style Manual for Successful Men. My first question is what actually makes a man successful. Is it wardrobe or his character? I think both. A greatly dressed man certainly makes my head turn, but really it is a man of strong character that really makes me think of success. But since it isn't up to me to judge what Esquire Magazine is putting on their cover, let's just talk wardrobe. Here is a list of what they recommend for the successful man who is looking to update his wardrobe. Check out my own personal color commentary to this fabulous guide.

ISIA Statement Suit. A statement suit a pinkish-brownish windowpane suit. According to Esquire, men are no longer throwing caution to the wind and are willing to be either very brave or very foolish. I would rather put my money in something other than pinkish when investing in a windowpane suit. Make sure you kill the look by adding a really cool shirt, tie or even a pocket square, but opt for brown with cream or even a charcoal suit.

The Dries Van Noten Wool Coat. Heavy wools, flannels and melton wools that are tightly woven are popping up all over for men this season. Dries Van Noten is setting its’ own trend by offering a coat made of kemp, a coarse, crinkly wool. It is tweedy in appearance and will weather in cold situations. Great for anyone living in weather challenging places, but for most of us a nice wool mid-thigh coat will suffice!

The Paul Smith Velvet Blazer. A double-breasted navy velvet blazer. Stunning in color and the fabric appears so rich. Look instead for a single breasted brown or camel jacket. Easier to pair with dress jeans, and a boot. Paul Smith offers this jacket for $1075, but I bet Calvin Klein has something that may do the trick!

An 11-hole pebble grain hunting boot. Yes, timeless in shape and construction, but I am thinking any lace-up dark boot will work from day to night. Putting money into a nice leather shoe always makes any outfit look polished.

The Belvest Unlined Shetland Blazer. Talk about learning something new every day. A shetland blazer is kin to a Harris Tweed, but with a different process. Belvest has taken processing to a whole new level by deducing how to wash the stiffness out of Shetland wool without warping the wool. Their solution was to construct the jacket so its proportions are a touch off kilter, allowing the shrinkage to be brought down to its’ intended size. Alone, this is a fascinating feat, but to have the jacket be unlined and the wool soft is amazing! The price tag on this jacket is $1095. I vote for this fabulous fabric, as it will offer comfort, quality and most of all a great style for years to come. I expect it will also age like a fine wine. Personally, I'd wait to start looking for discounts to help with the cost.

The Brunello Cucinelli Double Breasted Non-Suit. Can't tell you what a non-suit is exactly.... Most men are cautious about selecting a double breasted suit as they feel like a gangster or banker on Wall Street. This designer has actually combined two pieces, plaid and houndstooth, and woven in black and navy yarns. The unlined suit features buttons on the jacket that are narrowed from its’ previous double breasted look. The end look offers an ooh-la-la appearance without looking ridiculous. I'm hoping that this will be a trend that we will see more of. Amazing how moving the buttons in closer and keeping a garment unlined can make all the difference.

The Prada Tumbled Leather Bag. Just like the writer states, “Investing in status luggage can be fought with peril". Anytime we see someone with designer bags or luggage we think one of three things. Great bag, knock-off, or show off. The tumbled leather bag offered by Prada for the successful man is just that, a serious investment item. Like many fine leathers, it only looks better over time, and often what I refer to as vintage. The price tag is pretty stiff at $2,550 and it is safe to say there is something out there that is comparable for less, but a great item for any guy.

The Allegri Winter Linen Jacket. This seems like an oxymoron in conception, but actually does make sense. It takes the look of a tweed jacket (not of heavy wool) and is actually summer linen. The Italian company has perfected the process by waterproofing the yarns and inserted a microlight nylon down vest, buttoned into the coat for warmth. It is multi-tasking at its best for versatility and style. Now that is fabulous, but again comes with a price tag of $895. That jacket is great for those living in winter warm weather climates. If I could shake my money tree a little more, I would purchase this for my father in Florida, as it would combine his favorite look of tweed with his like of really linen fabric with the warmth needed for slightly cool weather nights. Better than that, it would go with his khaki's, since that is his uniform trouser of choice!

Really great article about men’s fashion for fall and winter. If you are interested in seeing more go to the website and check out all the pictures. I'd love to hear what you would invest in from this list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Shopping Traditions

For those in Great Britain and formal British Colonies, Boxing Day is a significant holiday that occurs right after Christmas. Boxing Day, traditionally December 26 or the second weekday after Christmas, is a bank or public holiday. Boxing Day is very similar to the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Recently, British shops have broken with tradition to have sales and often dramatically discount goods. Just like Black Friday, British retailers look to make their largest profits of the year. As in the States, retailers open early and stay open late to offer store busters and loss leaders. The holiday shopping day has been so successful over the years that stores often have to secure crowds by providing numbers to allow customers to enter and exit in a way that avoids chaos. The online version of shopping is called Cyber Boxing Day and continues to grow in popularity.

The background of Boxing Day originates when employers used to give their servants or employees a gift of money or food in a small box since they frequently had to work Christmas Day. During medieval times, the lord of the manor would gather his workers and distribute boxes of tools, food and cloth. This was compensation for work being done throughout the year. In later years similar stories have been told that servants were able to take boxes or hampers home for their families. This tradition still happens but generally the week before Christmas. Another variation of this theme occurred in churches and public places. Townspeople would drop off money, clothing or other gently used items to be donated to the poor. Children were encouraged to give up their year old toys and clothing, or toys and clothing they never wore, to the poorer among them.

For those interested in checking out deals to purchase outside the United States check out this Boxing Day site.

For those looking for post-Christmas buys here in the States, beware. Many shoppers are hitting the stores to return unwanted gifts. No need to re-gift an item when most stores will take it back. Keep in mind a few things when returning unwanted clothing to stores:

* Make sure the item has a ticket attached

* Having a receipt will guarantee you receive the money that is due to you

* Do not feel as though you have to purchase a replacement item that same day

* Take a store credit, as stores will mark down items even further in the New Year

* Early spring items will hit the stores in February and your store credit will allow you fresh goods to choose from

* Bring your patience and remember store employees are doing the best they can. That is why a gift receipt or tag is imperative!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tacky Holiday Themed Clothes Are Back!

Ugly holiday sweaters are making a comeback. Really? I have been pitching out holiday sweaters and shirts in client’s closets for years! I have seen some doozies over the years, too. How do you evaluate something that may have sentimental value and say ok, time to go. That is a common theme I hear from clients.

I personally don't have any of holiday themed clothing floating around my closet, but I do understand the feelings and emotions of what a garment may bring to a person. Oops, come to think about it my husband does have some old Rutgers t-shirts floating around on his side of the closet, but they are definitely not holiday themed!

Back to ugly holiday sweaters. The shirts and sweaters I have seen over the years in closets were hand painted, bedazzled, embroidered and appliqued. In the 1980's, I found an artist that hand painted dresses and shirts. I think she sold her wares at the big flea market in Boca Raton near where my grandmother lived, and I often visitedmy grandparents during the winter to get away from the cold of Philadelphia. I was constantly amazed by the number of people purchasing from her.

The designer I remember most distinctly is Michael Simon. Michael got his start in 1979 in NYC, using his lifesavings for a batch of colorful yarn and weaving them into oversized sweaters. His signature look was bold creations with appliques, embroidery, sequins, beads, and crochet accents. Michael’s statement knits could be seen at all the better stores with most holidays celebrated on the entire sweater. Over the top was clearly the theme, but just like any good designer, Michael’s creations have evolved over time and are current with today’s looks.

Years ago, when I worked with Macy's, that was the big ticket item. The sweaters came to the hip, generally had three large buttons and were suitable for anyone that looked like a line backer. But they sold! Over the years, I have seen knock-offs and last year’s styles at Steinmart or TJ Maxx.

Last week on the NBC Today Show, they did a segment on ugly holiday sweater parties being the rage. They showed a typical party, with the guests all wearing tacky holiday tops and sweaters. The old adage that what is old, once again becomes new!

Fashion does come full circle over time, but I am not sure this is one of those cases where it’s appropriate. The tacky holiday fashion belongs more to a vintage theme party, than every day wear. I love the concept because I expect for many it wasn't too hard to find a top or sweater to wear. It takes the pressure off having to pull together a fabulous holiday outfit, and certainly is a major conversational topic. At this point as a stylist, I can't make a recommendation on what to pair your tacky top with besides a simple colored bottom. If you have tacky, tinsel ball earrings or jewelry, you may as well go for it!

On a personal note.....I hope the New Year’s party I attend has some of that action going on, as I would love to snap some pictures and add it to my collection of pictures for my upcoming book!

Happy Holiday's ya'll!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Party Time......What to Wear, What to Wear

Have you ever gotten an invite to a party, and then when the day came you looked in your closet and discovered you didn’t have anything to wear? And then normally we all think to pull out our little black dress. Well, let's not do that this year, I vote no. Let's work with what we already have in our closet and invest in just a little something-something to pull it together.

First is the planning part:

What invitations or parties are you expecting to attend this year?

Day or evening events?

Casual or Dressy?

Once you have determined your commitments, saunter on into the closet to see if you have any of the following to pull off a fabulous holiday look:

  • A crisp white blouse
  • A black satin or nylon camisole or blouse
  • A cream top, any fabric, with sleeves
  • A fitted black or winter white skirt or pant
  • A satin pant
  • Any sequined garment
  • Black tights with a pattern
  • An open cardigan with ruffles
  • A tuxedo or tailored cropped black, brown or white shirt
  • A belt in any other color than black or brown

The best suggestion I can give is to wear what you have, but add one key brightly colored accessory or underpinning to pull together a holiday look. All it takes is one item of either color or size to provide a more festive feel to your appearance. It can be a belt, a necklace, scarf, or any item that is jewel tone, embellished or heavily textured. Keep in mind that this would be the ideal time not to buy full price but shop consignment stores, discount and trendy shops.

Most consignment stores are eager to get holiday items in and out the door and may be willing to negotiate the price. Stores like H&M, Old Navy, Forever 21, Kohls and Steinmart carry inexpensive trendy items that will fit the bill perfectly. This is not the time to invest in quality, especially if you have more than one holiday party to attend. I usually preach the importance of cost per wearing, but for trendy holiday items, I vote for the most bang for your buck without appearing the tasteless or tinsel tacky.

Some items to consider:

  • A jewel tone belt
  • A colored suede pump
  • A brightly colored feathered necklace
  • A faux fur collar
  • A layered necklace
  • An embellished silk or nylon scarf
  • A jewel tone camisole or shell

DKNY Jeans Missy: Sequin Tank With Knot Back

Try pairing this fuchsia racerback tank with a dark wash jean and a feathered earring in similar tones. For a dressier holiday look, grab a dark brown, maroon or burgundy color pant from your closet and add a bronze heel. Jewelry should be simple and not matching, so opt for an earring with brown stones or beads.

Vigotti: Ulinda

I love a red shoe! A red shoe is only good if it can be worn a multiple of ways. Try not to select a red shoe that is overly trendy. Look for a classic line that can be worn on many occasions. I see this shoe being worn with a slim pant, a crisp white fitted blouse or any jewel tone solid shell and a dynamite necklace or draping patterned silk scarf. The red shoe should be a nice alternative to the ever so boring and predictable black pump!

Fossil: Granny Drama Necklace

Great colorful mixed crystal and brass necklace. This alone makes its’ own statement. Keep your top simple, whether it is a shell, camisole or blouse. As for earrings, find a flat gold or brass colored hoop.

The most important thing to remember is find items that won't bust the bank and that may be worn again after the holidays, if needed. Think outside your box and take cues from discount stores. Have fun with accessorizing and remember to leave the LBD in the closet and go for other simple pieces that are easy to add a little glam to by adding one dynamic item.

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