This Minute

At The Tents

Badgley Mischka Show 10 am Tuesday 2/16/10 – The show was supposedly inspired by images of the cosmos — thus, the stunning glittery silver beaded and sequined short modern cocktail dresses in the first group — and by Mad Max, seen in the tough-glam black wool sweater vest and pewter legging,and a black sequin and faux fur cocoon coat in what followed.

And, what followed was, for the most part, a clever and light rendition of those themes from the designing duo. It seems they want to introduce a younger, edgier and more modern vibe in their contemporary Mark and James line, of which many of the daily wear pieces in the last half of the show were. Perhaps they are trying to send a message to their clients – modernize, modernize — and steer their customer toward a more relaxed elegance, rather than the formal charity ball stiffness that many wear their clothes with. Pale gray knits with silver leather pants or a printed sequin legging were still super-chic and glam, but easier and more fun in this vein. But, they did not forget their die-hard gala dress fans with plenty of short sequined and beaded numbers and a few floor-sweepers that opened the show.

The polished, high ’80’s-influenced hair –both up and long — also kept the designers feet firmly planted in the glamour camp. No high concept hijinks or waifishly modern mismatched oddities for them. They are men who like their women gorgeous, and, it seems, they have veritable galaxies of women who love what they conjure out of the ether.

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Hunting and Gathering

Taking Flak

Banana Republic utility jacket j

On a mission to check out spring’s military trend — which I really loved on the Balmain/Vuitton runway– I fought my way crosstown Tuesday through the urban foxholes and tunnels (aka the subway) and then snow-shoed to my best local shopping haunts during the blizzard on Wednesday. And, curiously, so far, there’s not a lot of this totally wearable and cool trend in the stores.

So, I resolved, inveterate overbearing fashion dominatrix that I am, to WILL it to be found, and with a little work, I turned up enough olive drab and surplus khaki to make a drill sergeant ecstatic – and still keep his wallet fairly buttoned up. I’m sure more military will march into stores as the season progresses, but here’s some of the best right now:

Forever 21's brass button jacket

First up, is your local army/navy store. I scoped out two near me.Dave’s on Sixth Ave and 18th Street in NY had a super plain army green 4 pocket band collar jacket with a zip-out lining for $80. Great with a grey flannel skirt or trousers for work, or a gold sequined skirt for more eclectic day dressing-for those of you who can be less conservative on the job. Galaxy, on 30th Street and Sixth Ave, had an unlined, worn-in, soft cotton 4 pocket flak jacket that I really liked for an unbelievable $69.oo. Again, it’s nice to mix this up with an unexpected texture, like satin or brocade in a blouse or skirt, for a “hi-lo” combination of ideas and fabrics.

Banana Republic boyfriend military jacket

JCrew’s take on the military has a decidedly feminine bent. They’ve put an abstract black blossom print on a great khaki field jacket (and used the fabric for a skirt and shorts too — do not wear these with the jacket, though). The effect is intriguingly camo-like and cool. I likes this unusual jacket and at 119.00, it’s fun to try a piece that takes liberties with the straight idea. Summer JCrew will have a terrific real military jacket, that I’ve already seen and coveted.

Zara’s got a great bunch of military-inspired designs right now, starting with a fun olive, whiskey brown and tan camo print placket-front tunic ($59.90), good pleated peg-leg military rayon gabardine pants ($59.90), a very chic dark peanut tan band

American Eagle's military jacket

collar flak jacket made of what looks like ripstop nylon ($79.00) and, the best of all, a killer trench coat with a military-style button up band collar in that same peanut color. Got to love how quickly they turn a trend around –and with some details that look more expensive than they are.

Banana Republic has 3 smart military jackets— one, the stone color”Boyfriend Military Jacket” for $98.00, the “Utility” jacket at $79.90 and the “Heritage Military Jacket” in a cement color for $150.00. All can go from dressed up –for work, or even low key evening dressing (with a silver or gold beaded tank) to casual with jeans and a great skinny tee

Banana Republic's heritage military jacket .

American Eagle ‘s soft cotton olive drab”moto” jacket looks more military than moto,but for $59.50, the AE folks can call it whatever they want — it’s really great. Men’s AE also has the perfect military shirt ($39.50) that I’m going to grab and you should too. Two pocketed and a terrific stone beige, its trim shape is a perfect substitute for a more strict jacket over skirts with a good sturdy leather belt, tucked into jeans or open over a tank with shorts. Simple, but so cool…

Forever 21's officer jacket

Forever 21’s military muscle shows up in three great jackets — a plain but well-shaped 2 pocket aviator cropped khaki bomber for $22.80 (no, that’s not a

misprint), an olive “ten-hut” brass-buttoned military jacket at $24.80 and a cream denim naval officer’s jacket with 2 rows of button for $32.80. They all lend their soldier strength to whatever basics you pair them with.

Keep a lookout here for more military finds- this is a trend that’s got lots of legs to keep marching forward.

Buy Right Now

Every now and then you walk into a store, and a piece just screams “Buy me” for no particular good reason except that it looks great . And, it must hit some note in the zeitgeist of the moment you didn’t even know was lurking in your brain. That’s why I’m creating this new category on STYLED.

So what’s Buy Right Now today? A bit of up color and great new shape at Club Monaco — a hot fuschia merino wool plunge V long sleeve sweater that has just the right amount of roomy dolman shape under the arms to look new in that “big-on-top, little-on-the-bottom” new-again ’80’s way that’s so hot at the moment.

Wear it tucked into a slim, knee-length skirt with a tank under it and a great necklace, or out over a shorter mini, skinny jeans or leggings. It’s a great mid-winter lift for your wardrobe and your psyche. And, it’ll look great out on Valentine’s Day with a silver sequin short skirt, or a simpler black one. It’s $79.00 so it won’t make your ink run pink – just fuschia.

Hunting and Gathering

All Dressed Up ….and EVERYWHERE To Go!

If there’s any season when casual America dresses up the most, it’s this holiday one. Whether it’s recession resentment, frugal fatigue or just lipstick luxury, we are a bit more willing to shop for a little something extra to make our spirits bright right now. And, it does seem this year, that there are more parties than ever, albeit trimmed and tight-budgeted. We just want to have FUN (remember that?)

And, it seems we want to do it in dresses. Every cheap and chic line and retailer is full of them. Some are terrific, but lots are not, and, as I’ve said before, the wrong bit of flash is trash, so don’t look like the store suckered you into something you shouldn’t even wish on your weird relatives you’ll have to put up with. Anyway – here are some knock-outs to festively close off the year most of us are glad to see go:

Mango has a  stunner of a cadet blue, white, silver and gunmetal striped

Mango's sequinned stunner

strapless sequinned dress that’ll look great from now through summer.  It’s chic, offbeat and festive in an unexpected way, and for $189.00, a style steal. For cold nights, add a beaded sweater – like a grey cashmere.

A very elegant take on New Year’s Eve is Mango’s draped jersey one shoulder black bustier dress that would be great on its own, but even more subtly sexy with an attached sheer black yoke that gives the dress an overall sheath shape.  It’s $99.00 and a great choice in this Michelle Obama-inspired age of understated glamour.

Mango's chic sheath

Next up is a stop at Club Monaco:  A great gold sequin tank dress makes a splash on it’s own (it’s short) or layered as a tunic over a black skirt, pants or leggings (even a turtleneck for very cold evenings).  It’s the perfect color gold and little else is needed in the way of accessories.  Sparkle your way into 2010.

Two very chic-simple options here at CM are the clear cerise red short sleeved silk tee dress that’s a great foil for a statement necklace or a bold stack of bangles with elbow length gloves for drama.  Another really terrific choice that’s not so obviously glam but has serious style is their midnight navy silk ruffled front  long sleeved dress.  Either one will signal you know your sartorial stuff.

But there’s a dress at Club Monaco will transport you out of your ordinary everyday look and into the New Year with one quick slip over the head.  It’s a charming cream pleated chiffon, sleeveless ruff-necked,  sashed full-skirted floaty dream of a dress that’ll appeal both to the romantic and the normally simple minimalist who wants a chic party look that’s different but not frilly-silly.  At $189.00, it’s got plenty of style miles from now into spring.

H&M has a black jersey gold-studded tank dress that’s just punky enough to carry the movement’s style signals, but not outlandish enough to get you noticed in the wrong way.  In the understated category, a YSL -inspired black silk long-sleeved smock dress makes you look totally glam to ring in 2010.

So, go grab one and look great!  Happy New Year!  Happy New Dress! Happy New You!!

Hunting and Gathering

Faux Chic

Fake fur is coming at us strong — at every kind of store/website from mass to class. This fun trend, inspired by this fashion’s current fall fascination with the “sauvage” look, and texture in general, takes shape in everything from boho “mongolian lamb” vests to elegant longer “mink” jackets.

I’ve always detested fake fur because it looked so…well. fake. But I love animals and I have been trying hard to wrap my head around that new 21st century aesthetic of loving the obviously artificial in spite of its polymer content. (You know – the one that holds that the really fake-looking is better than a fake trying to look real.)

But, somehow, quality still counts even among the legions of four-footed fakery pawing and clawing its way off the racks. The only fakes that really catch my

Zara "mink" vest

eye are deeply piled and rich in color or in a very well-done pattern. Overly cheesy, shiny fabrics, colors or bad prints that would never survive in nature just don’t cut it in the fake fur world.

So,no one will really think you’ve inherited mom’s mink jacket when they see you up close, but that’s not the point of the new fake furs. People will think you have a spirited sense of whimsy and fun, and that IS the point.

This season’s best include: Zara‘s great dark brown “mink” uneven hem vest that’s as “rich girl” a look as I’ve seen anywhere for a price that’s not -$79.50.

H&M‘s black “fox” short vest adds a bold boho touch to Saturday jeans or a gray work pencil skirt and turtleneck.

MICHAEL Michael Kors faux coyote vest

MICHAEL Michael Korsfaux coyote vest looks super with jeans and a sweater or over a dress for work. $129.50.

H&M also boasts a very nice-looking pale blond “mink” jacket that super-chic and luxe looking. They also have a red “fox” chubby that’s got this fall’s 40’s style totally down.

Esprit‘s fluffy “raccoon” vest is a fun bit to throw on with jeans and a sweater, or over a pale cream skirt and turtle for work. It’s $89.50 — a slim price for a lot of rich texture.

Esprit faux fur vest

Zara is really going all out for faux — they even have a terrific trim black broadtail reefer coat for men! I say buy it in the smallest size and enjoy a really elegant way to set off simple basics. It’s single-breasted and really a super stylish look with a white shirt and tuxedo pants for dressing up, or use to add richness to grey flannel for work or jeans for weekend brunch. It also comes as a jacket.

Express has a really luxe looking leopard wrap hip length jacket for $168.00. Over a black dress or black pants and sweater, suddenly black isn’t so basic.

Express leopard jacket

Zara‘s “ocelot” 3/4 collarless cardigan coat for $99.00 that is the perfect and perfectly chic offbeat touch for a wardrobe of classics. Think white shirt, gray pencil pants and ocelot – at $99.00, really great!

So, faux for it and have fun with fashion!

Totally Cool

Steamy summer has arrived, and nothing feels cool enough on, except a bikini. Won’t do in certain situations, though. So, what will get you through the dog days

Banana Republic navy silk dropwaist dress

Banana Republic navy silk dropwaist dress

till fall? Great, light-weight, throw-on DRESSES are , that’s what.

They’re an easy, one-step sartorial solution for any situation, from work to walking that dog. The best have built-in style details that give you the instant chic with no layers. Check out these great, affordable versions we love from some surprising resources. Frock on in air-conditioned style.

Why does JCrew do everything so well? Michelle Obama continues to give them well-deserved exposure and fame,and, really, they do have some of the best dresses around this minute. There is an absolutely cool, easy, breezy sleeveless belted slight A-line sheath in soft graphite gray, silver-shot silk sirrah, with a rough-edged assymetric ruffled neck for

Martin+Osa watercolor print trapeze dress

Martin+Osa's print trapeze dress

Mango's medallion edged tee dress

Mango's medallion edged tee dress

$148.00. Another JCrew winner is almost the same silhouette in a darker grey cotton knit for a less pricey $88.00. Add a light cardigan for work. A short-sleeved JCrew wrap silk taffeta ruffle neck dress is a bit more covered, but still airy enough, in light pewter gray, black or chocolate for $129.00. Cool now, and really chic later for fall over black or charcoal sweater and tights.
Martin +Osa has a really interesting, eye-catching print trapeze shape summer
cooler in falcon blue, gray, navy and white silk for $130.00.. It’ll look great under a medium blue cardigan or a charcoal turtleneck for fall. Mango’s heather gray boat neck tee dress with brass medallions across the neck for $79.90 lends instant

MICHAEL Michael Kors abstract print sheath

MICHAEL Michael Kors abstract print sheath

transeasonal style to the wearer, no accessories required. Michael Michael Kors‘ dark blue and black abstract print cap sleeve cotton sheath dress has big designer ’80s genes in its simple inverted triangle shape — also very figure-forgiving — and will keep you cool and polished looking through summer’s worst. And at $129.50, it’s a real find.

Several of Ann Taylor‘s dresses are really terrific looking – and colorful, lest you think we only like darks and grays here at STYLED. A red pepper silk flat ruffled

Ann Taylor red ruffled neck sheath

Ann Taylor red ruffled neck sheath

front sleeveless sheath for $169.00 is totally hot for a dinner out, but cool and appropriate enough for work with a cardigan or jacket. A beautiful rose color AT silk subtly draped shift dress is elegant and only needs a

Ann Taylor rose silk satin dress

Ann Taylor rose silk satin dress

gray or cream sweater for the office (at $125.00). Two perfect LBDs (little black dresses) are Ann Taylor’s “perfect sheath” for $155.00, and wrap sleeveless ponte dress for $125.00, great day or night.

Old Navy comes in at $29.50 with a pale gray cotton shift dress that has a really good shape, and looks super-light, but polished enough for work. Liz Claiborne‘s Isaac Mizrahi-designed , black and white graph-print cotton

Old Navy gray cotton sheath

Old Navy gray cotton sheath

sleeveless, belted dress is a good crisp shape, and lends cool-as-a-cucumber poise to the wearer for a surprising $49.99.

Gap has a great color block tank dress in parchment and gray cotton that’s ultra-cool and looks right now in a soft neutral as we tone down summer brights to head into fall. A gray jacket or cardigan will do the trick for more toned down situations, and for $49.50, you can afford the air-conditioned feel.

Club Monaco offers a super-chic slightly A-line sheath dress in a shiny khaki fabric that bridges the odd moment between summer and fall perfectly. It’s $189.00 and worth its price in versatility.  For work, add a jacket or sweater in a matte fabric to make an interesting mix of textures, and for night, glam it up with more shine in accessories.  On a weekend, add flip-flops and get yourself to the market.

Gap colorblock dress

Gap colorblock dress

Lastly, Banana Republic‘s dresses get the nod for the most diversity in good design award for their very individual group of winning looks. A really stunning sleeveless silk dropwaist dress for $98.00 in navy is the perfect example of a casual shape in a dressy fabric hitting just the right note of chic summer ease for day, work or night depending on how you accesorize it. A ruffle-front cotton

Banana Republic gray shirtdress

Banana Republic gray shirtdress

short-sleeved shirtdress in steel gray or military blue is absolutely a great work dress, but can be dressed up to go out, or down for a Saturday ($125.00). And a dress I’ve loved since I first scoped it out this week is the Heritage satin safari dress for $132.00 in sand. This one is a

Banana Republic satin shirtdress

Banana Republic satin shirtdress

winner for work, under a gray or khaki boyfriend jacket, or for a casual day, throw on look with thong sandals.

So, quick, get a leg up on late summer style this minute with one-step dressing that makes life simple — and STYLED!

STYLED: New and Available

Norma Light

Okay – talk about summer light — on the wallet, as well as the heat. Norma Kamali’s summer ’09 line for Walmart has arrived in the big W and it’s a total winner. First of all, everything’s under $20.00 (this is not a typo!) and who wouldn’t want a chic, versatile summer piece for that? Best of all, Norma’s stayed on top of the quality control, design details, and her rep assured me, the real thing will look every bit as great as the samples.

The details: The capsule collection’s best bets are both basic and very individual looking, and you’ll want them all for different reasons. A snakeskin print stretch

Norma Kamali for Walmart snake print skirt

Norma Kamali for Walmart snake print skirt

pencil skirt is one of the most stylish finds I’ve seen this season. Wear it with a black tee or jacket for work, or a silver tank or top and silver sandals to a party. On Saturday — a denim jacket will do.

Next, take a look at two terrific dresses: The charming scoop neck henley tee dress

Norma Kamali for Walmart scoop neck dress

Norma Kamali for Walmart scoop neck dress

(right) that’s really super in every color, and the pretty poly jersey short sleeve peasant dress that looks ultra-cool and comfortable. The peasant version in black will take you out to dinner, with the right jewelry and sandals, or around the neighborhood on errands. The scoop in white looks right at the beach, and in taupe-y gray, it says work with a comfortable”T”.

Last, a marvelous cotton full short skirt in a black on black palm tree print is a

Norma Kamali for Walmart palm print skirt

Norma Kamali for Walmart palm print skirt

whimsical summer addition that shows you really know how to have fun. It’s a charming dressed up look with a tank, and a chic, feminine and different work look with the black safari shirt.

I picked out four pieces I’d love to own, but almost every item in here carries its style weight in spades. And, for a change – you can love a lot …and still afford the vacation you want to wear them on! See them all.

Prints Charming

I’m a stripes and solids girl myself, but every now and then, I’m captivated by an outstanding and unusual print, and I’ve just got to get it. This absolutely terrific abstract large floral in beige and yellow from J.Crew will add a sophisticated touch of individuality to anyone’s wardrobe. It’s just $98.00 and you can wear it with a straight slim skirt or skinny pants for work, a pair of white shorts for the weekend and even do something offbeat like pairing it with a metallic gold skirt for a party. It’s cool and chic in a big designer kind of way, no?

Working Cool

A sleeper hit for summer’s working crowd is the sleeveless vest jacket. It’s like the power suit with air conditioning! (That’s modernizing the stylish-again ’80’s.) It seems everyone’s got a version, including Banana Republic’s sleek and professional one at $149.99.

Banana Republic's sleeveless vest jacket

Banana Republic's sleeveless vest jacket

Club Monaco’s long white or navy linen vest jacket that’ll wrap neatly with a great belt over a straight skirt or trousers. You can layer it over a tank, or, if you’re not arm-confident, over a short sleeved tee or blouse. Needless to say, it’s versatile enough to live over jeans or shorts for downtime. $119.00 Other terrific vest jackets are at http://www.banana republic.com in their Monogram collection and by Kenneth Cole.

Shipley Shape

It’s rare when a capsule designer collection hits a larger retailer that’s so spot

Shipley and Halmos for Uniqlo drawstringwaist dress

Shipley and Halmos for Uniqlo drawstring waist dress

on in terms of great wearable pieces in updated but not too trendy shapes that’ll take you into summer with ease and versatility. But that’s what happened when the Shipley and Halmos for Uniqlo collection hit the store here in NY. I was amazed by their dresses and shorts in particular. Here, a $39.50 black or gray shiny cotton drawstring waist dress can be one step chic, or give instant style over capri leggings, shorts or pants. Talk about summer made simple!

Summer Sweat-er

Sweaters and summer don’t usually get said in the same breath, unless, of

course, you are one of the millions of women who work in an office so cold you have to dig out your winter woolies to keep warm. Then you sweat when youBanana Republic short-sleeved cardigan step outside. Solve this with a great short sleeved cardigan from Banana Republic that comes in a kaleidoscope of colors. It can almost take the place of a jacket for work with a slim skirt or trousers. At $39.99. in a color that pops, you can add a lot of style. Gap also carries one.