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Skirts and Dresses and All Things Girlie

By Sasha Fastovskiy

Of all that hangs in a woman’s closet, nothing oozes femininity and grace more than a dress. Dainty, delicate, and the perfect canvas to play up no matter what the occasion, dresses are so plentiful this season that they’re going to need not just closets, but zip codes of their own. Whether fitted, deconstructed, black or white, dresses will convey all looks this season: elegant, playful, casual, and work-wear. Let spring’s main trend wrap you up in its effortlessness ~ and that’s the long and short of it.

If you can’t settle on just one color for a dress, take a gander at the latest technique making its rounds: ombré designs. Sometimes taking a walk on the pricier side, this is hands-on method of dipping fabric into dye to create a gradual, shaded look. Also known as color bleeding, the technique will be most prevalent in light, breezy fabrics made up of various layers of sheers. In other dying news, tie-dye is not as loud as it usually is; this time, it’s reserving itself for small details in corners, necklines, hems, and sleeves, keeping in touch with the laid-back, casual-cool spring. As for general fabrics to keep in mind, think linen, chiffon, and cotton, and look for them in trapeze and baby-doll dresses. Most dresses won’t be made up of large amounts of fabric, but they will have volume gathers with controlled areas of dimension.

 

While other dress patterns are in tune with the other looks of the season ~ florals, abstracts, safari, and geometric ~ one of the more unique, fancier looks is as simple as going nude. Yes, long, draped gowns in nude and skin-toned hues with Grecian twists and gathers, as well as those with open necklines, are walking their own walks in long silhouettes designed to elongate and flatter all shapes and sizes. Paired with some heavier accessories and natural, swept back (or up) hair, the look is so tantalizing, it’s straight out of a Muse’s closet. Meanwhile, one shoulder dresses, interesting straps, ruffles and polka dots take a walk on the edgier, yet equally girly side, and are much more everyday wearable.

Sleeveless dresses will be the biggest focus, but plenty of others will have puff sleeves, frays, or ruffles in their own attempt at creating proportionate volume. Sleeveless dresses will shoot the attention either to the bust line, with contrasting designs or fabrics at that area, or to the collars, complete with their own chunky variations.

To put together a more chic, tailored look, try donning a skirt in the most voluminous of volumes. If there were ever a time to imagine oneself frolicking through the fields of wildflowers, now is the time to daydream. In fact, fantasize about skirts like the dirndl (gathered, with a tighter waistband), one of the most graceful skirts a la The Sound of Music. No question, full volume skirts paired with crisp blouses, tanks, and casual tees are a made-over nod to the more classic days of fashion. Various profile skirts like A-line and pleated, will make you feel positively flirty and twirl~worthy, while others may come with their own layers of multiple fabrics, a chic take on petticoats.

As for lengths, the strength lies in numbers. There are numbers of skirts to ease yourself into: waisted skirts with hems either above or below the knee (be careful here, the higher the waist, the shorter the torso will look), casual bubble skirts, and the classic denim skirts (this time look for high-wattage colors and stone-wash denim). For those looking to elongate themselves, look for wrap or bandage skirts in solid colors ~ most will come equipped with their own tucks and gathers.

At-a-Glance

Top 20 Looks for Spring/Summer 2008

Turn up the Volume ~ Full skirts and fluid pants of all lengths

Well-heeled ~ Shoes will come in color & print, wedges, gladiators, espadrilles, peep toes, cone wooden heels, strappys

Romance is not dead ~ Layers of ruffle, frills and florals on skirts, dresses, tops, blouses, necklines

My secret garden ~ Flower print blouses reminiscent of 40s, 50s, 70s

Wearable art ~ Graffiti-like scribbles and smudges, Ombre dip/tie dyed

Fab frocks ~ Asymmetric and draped, girlie and full

Sheer madness ~ Transparent chiffons, layered sheers, and see–through outer layers

Crazy color ~ Orange, tangerine, mandarin, peach, lemon, gold, lemon, citrus green

Animal attraction ~ Traditional African and earthy Asian textures featuring animal/jungle prints and feathers

Pretty in purple ~ From violet to lilac to plum

Patching things up ~ Multi-colored, mixed materials and patterns for dresses, Ts, and shoes

Onesies ~ The jumpsuit is back for day and evening

Get waisted ~ Pants and jeans are riding high, whether they’re flared, skinny, cropped or wide

Highly decorated ~ Lots of useful pockets and tabs give dresses and shirts a military feel

Pale riders ~ Jeans and other denim go white

Ahoy, Matey! ~ A sea of suits, blazers, shoulders shapes, and trims with nautical inspiration

Red, white, and ooooh! ~ Stars, stripes, and dots

The devil’s in the detail ~ Trims, embroidery, laser cutting, beadwork, fringes and feathers

Material girl ~ Shiny satins and silks, leather, fine embroidery, flowers, metallics

Accessories ~ Wild purses, sleek clutches, cuffs, bangles, big sunglasses, skinny scarves, belts, and out-of-this world shoe shapes

Bottoms Up

By Sasha Fastovskiy

At just about the same time each year, garages, cupboards, and those under-the-bed storage bins all get a healthy dose of Febreezing, Cloroxing, and Pine-soling. It’s all part of ushering in Spring, along with the birds starting to chirp in the mornings, the allergies starting to run in the daytime, and the barbeques starting to grill in the evenings. Everywhere we look, there is a flower a-budding, a grass a-growing, and a hormone a-raging. With all of these spring renewals and rituals, it is no surprise that many begin by overhauling their closets as well, recycling, rubbishing, and altogether banishing their knits and wools while re-embracing their favorite pastels and prints.

Because spring sneaks up without the slightest hint as to the form it will take (surely, we all remember the school mantra about lions and lambs, no?) dressing for the split-personality season becomes an exercise in being prepared for anything. On the one [well-manicured] hand, spring is about an easy and calm progression into the bolder blazons of blistering summer; the act of prepping oneself in a casual, vintage-esque, demure manner that is beautiful, yet not altogether unexpected. On the other [slightly brighter, younger looking] hand, spring can be about whipping out the big guns and proudly displaying fresh taste, fine fashion, and a bitchin’ makeover with enough colors to make the Fly Girls look like grandma’s crocheting cronies. The ability to maintain both wardrobe aspects in a way that doesn’t scream, “My mommy let me dress myself today!” is a skill of the most well-dressed weather warriors, the few, the proud, the manicured, the adventurers of avant garde and leaders in layering prepared for wardrobe malfunctions, unforeseen attention-getting, and shoe conundrums such as… flats or plats’? Wide leg or tapered? Black nail polish or blue? This year, we invite you to take advantage of the vast span of new styles for every body and every forecast and emerge from winter’s cocoon in wing-tipped glory.

Embracing all things comfortable and tranquil is at the heart of spring. Therefore, so as not to go into a spring-shopping overload, the only way to start celebrating warmer weather and longer days is to stride about town in those fierce blue jeans. Except, not really. White is the new blue for spring bottoms, as crisp white denim is replacing winter’s fancy grey or colored jeans. Alright, so white jeans make it literally about cleaning since they’re a pain in the pun to keep bright, but they are extremely versatile. Whether (or weather, as spring is ever-so-unpredictable) you’re dressing them up with strappy heels and fancy tops or keeping them casual with flats and tees, white jeans are multitalented and fashion forward.

For those of us not ready to take a plunge and who actually follow that “no white after Labor Day” schpiel, white jeans could be frightening. The perfect compromise is light jeans ~ going to the lightest possible shade of blue denim produces a much fresher outfit. Some popular looks this season include frayed jeans, pairs with various cut-outs or designs, trims of all types, and bleached accents. Even stone-washed denim will begin to make its comeback ~ we hope this time without looking like Mom jeans.

While color is a spring signature, the most important trend for warmer pant wearables is high and waisted (no, not wasted). Whatever the style, skirts, shorts and pants are all going to get you high. This is certainly a step in the classier direction, as spring says adieu to muffin tops, whale tails, and back cracks and bonjour to the more refined, hourglass-like shape of higher waists. Higher waists can be worn by most women ~ curvy or not ~ since they can elongate the torso (provided you wear them with fitted tops) and act as a girdle. They also come with their own variety of cuts: flared, skinny, wide leg, even bell-bottoms are part of the waist phenomenon. The most popular looks in waisted pants are sailor inspired, professional-chic, and fitted denim.

Similarly, kinda, to the high waist is the ankle cropped pant. Say goodbye to bootcut, since bluntly cut jeans and pants leave room for foot fancy fashion. The most common type of cropped pants is, once again, tight, drainpipe jeans. These are extremely thin-spiring, especially paired with pumps and billowy tops, seeing as they create a tighter, skinnier shape for the legs and lengthen them by not bulking out at the bottoms.

Another big to-buy this upcoming warmfest requires an outfit from days long ago, the jumpsuit. The onesie for adults is back, but with a far simpler, cleaner look. As are shorts-length overalls, and loose, comfortable cargo pants. The trick behind these is the fit: one must achieve (no matter how much effort it takes) the carefree look of “I rolled out of bed and put on the first thing I saw and I totally couldn’t care less about how I look right now.” Other soft, draped pants making waves this season ~ meaning they’ll be making a huge splash sometime next season ~ are jodhpurs (cropped, mostly khaki pants with colossal pockets, originally worn for riding) and dhoti pants (Indian-style pants with a dropped crotch ~ for the visual, review M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t touch This” wardrobe)

As the weather gets warmer, the pants have decided to get shorter. We may be sporting drainpipe jeans in May, but June will welcome the cropped pant, and soon the Bermuda walking short (both of which are similar to capris, but with less tailoring and more of a modern twist). Look for both styles in light colors, light, breathable fabrics, and subtle patterns like plaids. These will also have subtle details: buttons, rolled bottoms, drawstrings, and zippers. July, in turn, will beg for uber short shorts. Who will wear short shorts? Those who have been doing squats and lunges all winter long, that’s who. Shorts will be akin to the 1940s bathing suit length (yep, squats and lunges), complete with bells, whistles, and details all their own. They’ll be versatile, in styles both flashier than the subtle longer shorts ~ think brightly colored denim, and wilder patterns like polka dots or paint splatters ~ and more all-American, with cuffed or frayed denim in stone and extra dark washes. August, in turn, may actually be so sweltering that none of us will want to wear pants at all. Except, not really. Sheers will be a wonderful display of whimsy ~ see-through, neutral colors both on the beach and as regular day-wear…WITH the right undergarments, please, God. Most will be made of ultra thin cotton and resemble cargo or wide leg pants.

Because of the inconvenient truth about spring’s weather changes, the art of progressing an outfit from day to night is far simpler than it would be in winter, when one could easily sport jeans during the day but then feel more appropriate in thicker knits or layered leggings for nightly festivities. While it’s best to leave the plaids, the capris, and the sheer pants for the lazy days, others options like jeans, shorts, and all types of high waisters can be excellent at any time. The rule for darker jeans is that they should be reserved for night and paired with heels; for highwaisted pants, the rule is to complete the look with a crisp, fitted (or at least tucked in) shirt.

Tops

By Sasha Fastovskiy

There is good news for those of you who are in the habit of waking up on those God-awful early mornings and blindly shoving your heads through the first fabric you discover (in a drawer, on the floor, in the closet…why nitpick?), only to pray that it somewhat matches that second item that we fumble for just seconds later (it doesn’t, by the way, let me assure you): this spring’s trends in tops and blouses are specifically designed to make your unmatched outfit most matching ~ complete with tousled blouses most terrific and eye-popping prints most precocious.

While the cuts and fits of shirts this season won’t deviate much from the same classical ones that have been sported since the beginning of…sporting, it is the prints and motifs on them that keep the looks fresh. A tee-shirt will remain a tee-shirt, unless it is layered under (or over!) a button down shirt, tank top, or even a shirt dress. Layers of weather-delicate chiffons and sheers (both very influential this style season) create easygoing, chic looks and are perfect for the warmer days later in the season. Cotton and knit layers allow for additional versatility ~ pile them on earlier in the season or on top of chiffony underlayers for those cool summer mornings that we know will give way to scorching middays.

Not a far stone’s throw away from the notion of spring is the notion of flowers ~ dainty, petite, sweet, and feminine flowers. And where there are flowers, there are floral prints. Everything’s coming up roses…and daisies, and tulips, and all those other flowers that no one can actually name ~ but we know they’re purdy. Deep, rich colors and bigger blooms are meant for a more formal outing, while wildflowers and graphic flowers are more daywear with that extra touch of funk. Be wary of being too flowery (overgrown, perhaps?) all the time and look for interesting alternatives ~ try a flower brooch, rose-colored ruffles, or subtle flower trim. Throw a delicate flowered silk scarf around your neck and let the gentle spring breezes so their thing.

“In like a lion…” has never rung more true, as safari prints are growling and finding their way into every aspect of a fabulous spring look. Multi-pocket linen shirts, tied and buttoned sleeves, wooden or feathered details, and neutral giraffe prints are prowling down the runways. Touches of green and orange are popping up, too. This nature trend continues with traditional-style ethnic prints in simple tunic cuts and beading in various looks from tribal to tropical.

In other prints ~ the biggest trend in tops, as they are easy to wear and do wonders for the simple pants and shorts collections ~ are geometric lines and patterns ~ much cleaner and more refined than in seasons past ~ and fantasy prints (which is really just another way of saying that they’re very, very unusual and there is no other category to put them in) are quite…fantastical. For those who are not quite ready to commit to eye-popping patterns, you’re in luck, as unprinted fashion finds a way to be just as attention- getting with asymmetrical hems, necklines, and trims as well as all sorts of funky collars and off-the-shoulder tops.

Color choices will be similar to last year’s; bright neons will be paired together in vivid combinations like blue and green, orange and red. Yellow hues will be warmer and softer ~ as opposed to neon ~ while blues and purplse are rebirthed in royal, juicy, and melt-worthy shades. On the softer side, pastels and skin-toned hues will be strong, worn together or with the classic black or white.

Intense high-metal sheens and shines are still with us, but this season are more rock-star inspired. Look for extreme chromes and golds, many with mesh or leather details or covered in glitter (not sequins, last season’s highlight). Speaking of rockers and leather, the ultimate top topper is the leather jacket…choose either a feminine shape in a rich brown or go hard with the timeless black motorcycle jacket.

 

Fancy Feet

By Sasha Fastovskiy

The shoe phenomenon that men ~ and yes, just men, or at least just the men who haven’t yet grasped the importance of man-scaping and purchasing the latest Prada loafer ~ don’t seem to understand is so natural, so tied into the changing of the seasons, that it’s as predictable as bears creeping out of hibernation, squirrels peaking out of tree holes and brushing nutshell crumbs off their fur, baby chicks poking their wee beaks out of their shells…We fashionistas, like our furry friends in the animal kingdom, instinctively know that the warmer weather is coming: our air-starved toes start creeping out of their wool socks, rejecting their fur-lined boots, and shimmying far from anything with a traction sole. This is Nature’s way of giving her blessing to the purchase of all the newest, hottest, trendiest, most fab shoes we can get our hands on ~ and feet in. So, ladies, let’s not disappoint Mother Nature, right?

Starting with the more delicate side of things, the first buds of spring, if you will ~ flats of all colors, shapes, and materials will be everywhere. Flat shoes, especially worn with tighter jeans and bare feet, are comfortable and can change an outfit dramatically. They can be dressy, casual, or even the highlight of the ensemble. Quilted ballet flats, which were particularly popular last fall, will take on an even more casual flair, becoming equivalent to the walkin’ girls flip flops ~ and rightly so, since ballet flats are easy to wear and take color well, helping the outfit to be the centerpiece. Other flat shoes will resemble the other spring trends: cutouts, intense colors, decorations all their own, and metallic and mirrored looks. Pointier-toed flats will be dressier than the ballet ones, and the 80s style V-toe will start stepping onto our summer radar in preparation for its big appearance this fall. Another allusion to days past? The Birkenstock, this time in much flashier versions (thank goodness) of its former self.

For those who like the look of an elongated leg, you already know to head for more natural colors and textures when choosing your footwear. This season, you’ll have lots of choices, as soft leathers will be absolutely everywhere in strappy shoes (think ankle straps, big buckles, T-straps, gladiator sandals) and patent leather heels will come in nude and tan colors…all perfect for showing off those lovely summer tanned legs, as is anything peep toe or geisha girl.

When it comes to comfort, women don’t necessarily jump in feet first. However, sneakers are looking a lot less Air Jordan and a lot more Air Jacobs. Sneaker- style wedges and flats are sitting pretty, and even high heels are getting a laced-up makeover with their own bright, thick shoelaces. Sneakers themselves are a statement: bright, neon colors, vintage Reeboks, and funky Converse and high-top sneaks will be head-turning, which is, in its own way, better than slam dunking.

Hands down, or rather heels up, the biggest trend for shoes is simply making a statement. The prints for shoes will be outrageous: all kinds of color combinations, designs, and patterns will help spice up safer outfits and totally inspire new ones. Bold color blocking, as well as spikes, studs, fringe, crystals and gemstones, invite everyone to don a dress or roll up the pants to play up the shoes. Either way, get ready to break out the Bedazzler and show off your gams in some funkadelic prints and out-of-this-world heights. Slingbacks and wooden cone heels will be higher, as will wedges (those who thought that trend died last summer are mistaken). Wedges are supreme in comfort too, as they provide stability and height at the same time.

The more traditional shoes for spring and summer are also getting made over; for instance, flip flops will be flatter, with metallic trim and a more Mediterranean, beach-resort feel. They will also be more naked ~ look for toe wraps and leather padding. Black shoes, for the attention-phobic, will make a slow move into StatmentLand. Look for color touches on heels and toes, making it possible to pair black with any outfit.

 

Educating Future Fashionistas (as is my duty)

By Sasha Fastovskiy

Just when we think we have a handle on the vocabulary that will take us through our adult lives, in flounces Fashion…and practically takes over television and our collective conscience with its models, designers, fashion victims, critics, red carpet reports, and just general fabulosity (See what I mean? Was “fabulosity” anywhere on our SATs? NO! But now you can’t watch TV without hearing it or sound even somewhat style-savvy if you don’t pepper your conversation with words like it). So, all of you who feel like outsiders to the world of true fashionista-dom, fear not, Style School is in session. Grab a pencil, honey, and take notes. There WILL be a final challenge.

Atelier – n. A French word literally translated as “workshop.” Typically used to refer to a working studio, typically a fashion designer’s or artist’s studio.

See: sweatshop; closet.

Bandeau – n. A folded horizontal band used as a decorative top of a strapless dress or swimsuit.

Ex: I’d wear a bandeau top, but I’m apprehensive about the look of sausage-breasts.

Bolero – n. A short, waist length, rounded front jacket, typically without closure or collar; typical attire for Spanish bullfighter’s costume. Similar to a shrug (n. A woman’s small, waist-length or shorter jacket, typically closeable and with sleeves.)

Ex: I’ll hide my arm fat on this chilly night by wearing my bolero over my strapless dress.

Chino – n. A cotton fabric with a plain or twill weave made popular as summer wear for the armed forces. Originally used for summer uniforms by the US Army during their defense of the Chinese in the 1900 Boxer Rebellion.

Ex: Quite similar to khakis, chinos are a staple in most male’s wardrobes, especially if they shop at The Gap.

Cowl neck – n. A neckline featuring a piece of material attached to a garment at the neck, typically draped loosely from shoulder to shoulder at the front neckline or back.

Ex: A cowl neck if perfect for ladies who want more detail and volume at the neck but hate restrictive turtle necks

Draping – n. A look achieved by designers when they create strategically placed, graceful folds in the fabric that hang just so

See: Rami Kashou, Project Runway.

Empire (waist, bodice, seam) – Adj. A type of dress or top where the waist line of the garment is raised above the natural waistline, sometimes as high as right below the bust.

Ex: Sarah Jessica Parker started a huge empire-waist trend when she wore the accomodating style while pregnant, eliminating the need for maternity dresses.

Fierce – adj. A word I didn’t really want to add but that little brat Christian Siriano has made it part of the vocabulary. Marked by extreme energy and fabulosity.

See: Ferosha Coutura; Annoying.

Haute Couture – n. Haute means elevated/high, while Couture is the translation for “dressmaker.” Together, they form:
1. high fashion; the most fashionable, expensive, and exclusive designer clothing. 2. the designers or dressmaking establishments that produce high fashion, collectively

Ex: Those who can’t pronounce haute couture certainly can’t afford it and definitely should not be wearing it.

Hauterfly – n. A fashion industry insider heavily involved in the industry’s social scene.

See: Rachel Zoe. JUST KIDDING!

LBD – n. The Little Black Dress; a classic, simple black dress that every woman must own because of its versatility. And it’s slimming.

Pleather – n., adj. Plastic leather. A slang term for synthetic leather made out of plastic – not always derogatory.

Pret-a-porter – n., adj. Ready to wear. Fashion design for the masses. The wearable side of Haute Couture.

Tres Chic – adj. The epitome of high style.

Ex: Gold lam é leggings and a handkerchief top are the antithesis (see Mrs. C, I can use big words!) of tres chic.

Note: Lam é is not to be confused with lame. Although, it should be.

 

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