Thursday, October 13, 2011

Houndstooth: fashion with bite!

Just as we’re heading for spring amidst a wash of floaty florals, that coveted northern hemisphere is pumping out a multitude of bold fall styles. That means something to look forward to in six months’ time and, unless you’re a regular on US fashion blogs, you can say you heard it here first.

Houndstooth has re-emerged as a must have for the colder seasons up north, and I must say it’s a trend that I could certainly take on. It takes confidence and finesse to wear it en masse, but in small doses it can be the win in an otherwise dreary off-season outfit.

I will forever associate houndstooth with Gwen Stefani. She’s incorporated it into her signature style ever since the days of No Doubt, and then introduced it as attainable fashion for the world through her L.A.M.B empire.

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can certainly see it makes a bold statement if done with taste, and a blurry-eyed can of crazy if you take it to the extreme. But what more would you expect from the Gaga? Both KK and Gaga are rocking Salvatore Ferragamo’s Fall 2011 dress – and like the Miu Miu swallow print, the pattern is the feature of the entire fall line. However, I would suggest working one element at a time – unless you’re looking to jump on the insane Gaga bandwagon. The ad shows you all the pieces together, but that’s not necessarily how anyone in their right mind would stomp that out in everyday life.

Evan Rachel Wood does it nicely here, making the houndstooth shoes pop as a feature of her androgynous suited style. Similarly a flat clutch against a plain black (or white) backdrop would ooze old-school glamour and fashionista prowess. Or for a more subtle look, a pair of houndstooth tights carry over some fashion factor to an otherwise plain outfit. I’ve seen some sweet ones in Farmers with the pattern in dark purple and black, and I’d say you could find some in other muted colours like grey or blue, if you didn’t quite want the contrast of black and white but you otherwise like the look.

Monday, October 10, 2011

the "new" animal print

Forget leopard spots or zebra stripes. The new animal print is less sexy vixen and more shout out to geek chic. Ever since the ubiquitous Miu Miu swallow print entered the frame in 2010, swallow silhouettes have been rampant on anything from handbags (equally lovely) to giant platform shoes (insane!).

Of course with the trickle-down effect to the southern hemisphere, the swallows have infiltrated (and inundated) copycat looks over our winter 2011. But there’s a new print in town, and I suspect it’s not going to stop there.

In the same week, Kourtney K and newcomer (with a fabulous name I just want to keep saying) Jayma Mays were spotted wearing different, but much the same, horse print clothing. It’s casually cool, you’re not going to see it on the red carpet, but for street outings and, y’know, regular people, this is accessible fashion at its best.

It’s the amount of clear fabric or negative space that creates the relaxed look. All over prints can create an uptight, fussy feel, and I think that’s why they can be misread as tarty or NSFW. Whereas this is a look you could just as easily pull off tucked into a pencil skirt for the office as you could wearing it over pleather leggings for a night out. Adaptable fashion at its best.

Back in the day (actually just a few years ago, but how our lives can change in such a short time) my friend had this charming fitted coyboy shirt with blue and green (correct me if I’m wrong friend, you know the one I’m talking about) reindeer printed all over it. It was quirky and cute, and just so Her. About the same time I bought a Rip Curl or Billabong “vintage look” tee that had a similar deer pattern. (I say “vintage look” in quotes because it was this kind of off-white colour, fawny even, and was quite thin material, obvs made to look like you hadn’t just pulled it off the shelf at the nearest surf/skate shop. But my bf, then still in the wooing stages, asked me at a later date why I would wear a raggedy old top to his house for dinner when I had so many other “nicer” clothes. Read, he thought it looked like shit. So perhaps the vintage appeal wasn’t quite on the money) Anyway, these tops were completely different and I thought nothing of it at the time, but perhaps deer were the beast du jour.

Then there was owl sensationalism, gracing every necklace, purse, and t shirt in town. Don’t get me wrong, owls are freakishly cool things – they’re basically flying cats if you ask me – but the motif was SO overdone, it became reserved for unashamed fashion bashers such as teenage girls. Like a song you used to like, until they played it 100 times a day on the radio and then when your young friend asks you to turn it up you defiantly turn it off instead because you will not be associated with such popularity. This is why I don’t listen to the radio.

So! What will be next? I can’t see hippos becoming chic anytime soon. It seems it has to be some kind of beautiful and mysterious creature, gentle and kind with a touch of magic. Something Beatrix Potter-esque perhaps? I’d like to say foxes. And thanks to someone knowing my not-so-secret penchant for them, I will be well ahead of the game.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kardashian Kollection at Hannahs

As an avid watcher of the Kardashian Klan, you can imagine my delight when I heard that Hannahs were going to stock the Kardashian Kollection handbags! And unlike other let-down designer brands working with cheap retail stores (hello World Made Me Do It for Number One Shoes) the girls actually present an affordable and totally cute range of handbags for all styles.

Way down here in good ol Aotearoa we usually miss out on major US brands, or, much like TV shows, we get them all too late. This time we’re on the receiving end only a month after the Kollection was launched, and it’s available in stores that aren’t just in Auckland! Huzzah!

Remember my excitement when Topshop clothes were going to be stocked in Karen Walker in Wellington? That was just for a high-street brand. And truth be told I haven’t been in there since the opening. The selection is hand-picked, seemingly to match the high-priced items that fill the rest of the store, and rotated so often you’d have to run down there on the morning it is changed over to get any item you want. But how would you know? It’s not obvious on the website. So unless you’re running in there week after week, possibly for nothing, you might find yourself disappointed and purchase-free. That is no condition to leave a store!

What I love is that the handbags are readily available on the Hannahs website, they show all the colours and the entire range, AND you can sign up for updates on incoming items! How great is that? They’re practically doing the shopping for you! Just sign here : )

The Kardashian Kollection (the whole shebang, not just handbags) was made for Sears, and it’s supposed to be affordable and accessible. And the range does not disappoint. The (slightly Gwen-esque) Bale clutch (I just about wrote “Klutch”) is only $70. The Anaconda satchel bag is (totally cute and on trend and…) only $80. The one I want is the Tots handbag and it will only set *you (*me) (*my holiday savings) back $100! Brilliant.

Don't even think about it, this one's mine!
Like commenters on the Topshop post noted, this is not “high fashion”. These aren’t Hermes Birkin bags. They are not even Guess (although I would suggest that Guess long ago lost a whole lot of style credibility while maintaining their high price). But these girls are right up there with the glitz and glamour of L.A and they know good fashion. They’re not just selling these bags on their name (which, when it’s that big, would be easy to do) – have a look for yourself and see how cool the range is.

This is fashion for the masses, with a hint of extravagance. Love it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

a shot of chartreuse

Colour trends have been going off in 2011 and the latest to take over the red carpet and runways is chartreuse. For those not in the know, chartreuse is a fairly disgusting spirit which some people are crazy enough (or uninformed enough about decent-tasting but still strong alcohols) to shot the foul stuff. It’s greeny-yellow in colour and in my mind will always be the colour of bile – that stuff you throw up when there’s nothing left in your stomach to chuck.

The colour trend is wide ranging because the colour itself is hard to define – but somewhere from a slightly sick-looking yellow to a brighter pistachio green falls into the category. Not only is it hard to define, but it’s extremely hard to wear, and if you don’t have the right skin tone and hair colour I wouldn’t advise trying it. Trends are not compulsory!

I remember back in the late 90s when chartreuse was around, as were a lot of other pastel-type colours (which are just no good for me, but I wasn’t aware that people couldn’t wear certain colours back then). I had this favourite outfit which comprised a (what I called lime green but would totally fall into the category of) chartreuse zip-up polo and (what I still believe would be) a super-cute dark blue denim pinafore minidress. Despite the fact that the only colour-blocking I could have imagined would have something to do with Lego, I was totally working a contrasting colour block and I have very fond memories of thinking how modern, grown-up and fab I looked.

I probably wouldn’t go near chartreuse now, because I know yellow isn’t my colour and pastels (or “baby” colours, as we called them back in the day) wash me out. I can imagine it would look quite nice in contrast to my hair colour, but in between clothing and hair I would just look seasick. And nobody wants that.

Down in our part of the world we still seem to be working with burnt orange and mustard yellows, but it won’t be long before there’s a shot of chartreuse in the shops. Perhaps just in time for spring? But if you have any sense, before diving into this pool of colour hold it up to your face and take a good hard look in the mirror. If you suddenly look rather sick, I suggest you put it right back on the shelf. If you positively glow in this hue, I would think you have started working on the pre-summer tan, or are lucky enough to have a caramel skin tone, because that is where this colour is going to shine.

If you’re still tempted, play around with some cool accessories that don’t live next to your face, like a belt, handbag or clutch, or some daring heels.