Chic, Flat Out Comfort

Okay – seriously, fashionistas (and non) out there – are there really any CHIC and

Alexander McQueen - Beautiful, but NOT what we mean

COMFORTABLE shoes? Can those two words live together in the same sentence? It’s Shoe Week here at Styl-d, and we’re going to find out.

Trolling through the spring/summer collections for a styling job that amazingly still wants summer clothes, I wondered all over again. Spring’s best, most amazing shoes are true works of art — with 4 0r 5 inch heels resembling statues, geometric shapes, etc. Platforms are so teeter-y and angled, it’s a true wonder models didn’t have to sign an liability waiver to walk down the runway in them. (Though there were definitely a few casualties — check out those videos!) Spring’s gravity-defying shoe sculptures can be multi-color, have fringe, beading, feathers, stones, cut-outs or the kitchen sink decorating them.

I totally appreciate their clever artfulness as a fashion editor, but these are not meant for more than an entrance-making moment and a quick sit-down. So what do those of us on our feet,moving fast and actually working for a living, do?

Ralph Lauren oxford

I took a trip through and a few of my favorite stores to find out:

Newest Flat Shapes

The Men’s Shoe (for women): This can be a flat, soft oxford-type lace-up, a jazz shoe, or a ghillie. Steve Madden has both. Sam Edelman, Joan and

Steve Madden soft oxford

David, Matt Bernson and Stuart Weitzman also have great ones in the mid-to-lesser price range. Robert Clergerie, Ralph Lauren and Fratelli Rosseti have cool but more costly versions. The men’s shoe looks great with a boyfriend jacket and shorts — from shorter and cuffed to

Stuart Weitzman cut out oxford

longer, but still above the knee,bermudas and cityshorts. Or, it is pretty cool with slim jeans – capris or longer — or any kind of trouser, and cute with just the right slightly fuller short skirt.

The Boat Shoe: Of course, the absolute best are from Chanel in unexpected

Sperry multi color boat shoe

multi-color pastels and bright combinations. But, again, they are great with shorts, playful short skirts (even a flirty-skirted Chanel-type tweedy summer suit!). Steve Madden has a terrific interpretation in

Sperry hot pink boat shoe

great colors and, Sperry, originator of the topsider, was not about to let its look get co-opted. Theirs come in colorful patent, multi-color suede and silver metallic. Super-comfortable, packing a weighty style wallop this season and more unexpected than sneaks.

Summer “Boot” Sandals: 2010 was the winter of the short boot with

Type Z sandal "boot"

everything — from dresses to leggings, jeans, short skirts and all manner of trousers, cropped and not. And designers didn’t want to give up that sturdy proportion for summer. So, there are a quite a few

Ted Baker sandal "boot"

open-toe boots for summer– lots with heels, like Phillip Lim’s — and a few flat ones, too.

But sandals really stepped into the heavier and higher-on-the-leg boot camp, too. From heavy gladiators versions to whole swaths of leather or fabric around the ankle, some sandals got really chunky. They look good with shorter skirts, shorts and the right casual dress– above the knee. Be careful with any pant or skirt that cuts the leg below that, though – too many horizontal lines keep you looking short, and nobody wants that!

Tapeet heavy sandal

Michael Kors high brown sandals

Nike mid sandal-boot

Enzo Angiolini boot-like sandal

Moccasins: Moccasins are a chic flat, too, this season and go with far more than the uptight preppy look we associate them with. Minnetonkas always look great with jeans, shorts and casual dresses, but

Ugg pale grey moc

now they and their slightly more upscale cousins are finishing more seriously polished trouser and shorts work looks as well. Pleated or draped, and definitely cropped, trousers are spring fashion’s newest pant shape, and they are a natural for the moccasin. You have to be careful with

Ugg olive suede moccasins

Minnetonka cool girl mocs

dresses and skirts, but the slightly fuller, flirtier ones can be great with moccasins as well as ballets and sandals.

great with jeans, shorts and casual dresses, but now they and their slightly more upscale cousins are finishing more seriously polished trouser and shorts work looks as well. Pleated or draped, and definitely cropped, trousers are spring fashion’s newest pant shape, and they are a natural for the moccasin. You have to be careful with dresses and skirts, but the slightly fuller, flirtier ones can be great with moccasins as well as ballets and sandals.

The New Gladiator:

The best gladiators (ones didn’t step out into boot territory this year) did not wrap so high up the leg, Coliseum-style, but

Calvin Klein low gladiator sandal

stopped lower on the foot, like these terrific Paul Smith neon green sandals. Any gladiator that has too much going on is a don’t this season. The cleaner-lined, less gadget-y ones are more truly chic. Bells and whistles, charms, tassels, studs, jewels don’t make a shoe more cool, only a lot more noticeable — and that’s not always positive.

Burberry low gladiator

Paul Smith low gladiator sandal

Joan & David low gladiator

**For more CHIC, FLAT-OUT COMFORT, see tomorrow’s post on what shapes are still stylish, but low as you go. Until then, be comfortable in your own shoes!


Shape Shifters for Spring

What are the key fashion shape changes this spring?  You know, the ones that transform your style silhouette and say you are sartorially up to par?  The idea is that at 50 paces, what will tell everyone your look is current? Updating your wardrobe is simple–you just need to know the best items to invest in to   (And the pace of fashion is so fast, you can find these items at every price.) Just remember that showing your style smarts is never a bad thing – it says you care about you, and that’s a good message… So, ladies,  listen up!

1. The Bigger Top: Slide-y, big sweaters and tees, loose tanks, dolman-sleeved, boat-neck tops and shirts, short tunics with volume and the bigger man’s shirt all look terrific over a slimmer bottom.

2. The Narrower Bottom and Leg: Skinny or slim jeans, skirts and leggings all look right with the larger silhouette on top. Best of all, the bigger tops usually hide everything you might not want seen!

3. The Bigger “Boyfriend” Jacket: Wear a slightly more voluminous (not huge and oversized, though) man’s style blazer or jacket with slim jeans, a short skirt, shorts (short or longer, they’re every bit as acceptable as a skirt now).

4. The Short, Interesting Skirt: Skirts were pretty uniformly short (from micro to a few inches above the knee), and most had details or shapes that gave them some volume – ruching, draping, pleating, layered assymetrical panels, gathering or a fuller cut. A bit more fun and whimsical than the plain old straight and narrow.

5. The Easier Dress: There certainly were still lots of body-con dresses around, but designers smartly realized that a slightly looser dress that can be belted to give it shape is more forgiving and more elegant. Not too voluminous at all – just eased up, so we can eat lunch without it showing in a bandage dress!

6. The Fuller, Shorter Trouser: Yes, skinny jeans are the look with a larger top, but, there’s an interesting option in the pleated, or gathered, cropped and peg-legged trousers so many designers introduced. Ideally, these look great with a narrower top or cropped jacket and are loose enough, sitting between your waist and hip that they make you look thin. Remember to buy them big enough – nothing’s as bad as pleats stretched to their limit.

7. The Shoe That Anchors: Whether it’s a chunky sandal, a wedge, a platform, an ankle climbing gladiator or even a summer peep-toe bootie, the heavier shoe is part of what makes your look contemporary this spring/summer.

8. The Cross-Body Bag: This newest way to wear your bag — undoubtedly inspired by stylish messengers — is diagonally from 0ne shoulder to the opposite hip. Yes, you have to put it over your head, but the great thing is that it leaves your hands free — something we all could use!

Simple stuff, right?  And most of it is actually pretty comfortable.  Remember, I didn’t include every nuance and trend on the runway–just the most basic that make a shape difference.

It’s warmer, leaves are sprouting, people are seeing and being seen again.    So — get out there and shop.  What are you waiting for?

Chic Peek At Fall 2010

I went to see Phillip Lim’s 3.1 fall collection up close in his NY showroom the other day. The show was

3.1 Phillip Lim camel coat

terrific back in February, but after 2 months, I’d forgotten the vibe that sent me into fashion orbit.

As soon as I rounded the corner (after viewing the delicious, deluxe accessories in the entry – particularly a buttery, squashy leopard satchel so chic it could almost walk you into a room !), it hit me all over again. How could I forget? These are absolutely great clothes — simply, totally elegant American sportswear chic.

Following a long but stratospheric tradition that includes iconic American designers Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs, Lim has picked up the golden thread of chic American classic style and made it his own. This is where classics should be in 2010. His silhouettes are tweaked, reshaped and detailed into modernity.

There were terrific coats – from a camel double-breasted

3.1 Phillip Lim gray shearling melange coat

kimono coat with a thin black leather belt to a black silk-piped short hooded camel steamlined duffel coat — and great knits. Big, slouchy, pale blue and striped gray/blue cardigan sweaters and greige textured sweater tunics were elegantly easy. A very shaggy ivory knitted cardigan and skirt were just sublime. There were great shorts in quilted leather or cotton, to be worn over thick tights.

And the shearlings! There were endless super texture combinations of suede, shearling, tweed, leather, fur and knit worked into sections that made these the season’s best American jackets and coats, all in shades of gray, ivory, beige, natural, brown and black. So yummy.

Sequin dresses and tunics often mixed with other fabrics, and with just the right amount of shine, looked terrific here in Lim’s hands, and not tired the way they seem in the stores for spring, with scores of brassy imitators of designer shine packing the racks. Dull, rich gold, matte violet and silver spelled out a luxurious message in these covetable accent pieces.

But, best of all was the blanket plaid coat, skirt, shorts and pants that just about screamed Bonnie , Bill

3.1 Phillip Lim blanket plaid coat

and Geoffrey, albeit with a modern, assymetrical touch that Lim’s young (and now older, I am sure) customers adore. In cream, grey, beige and black, it was just about the chicest thing I saw this season. I love it when that happens! What a star to watch for anyone who loves fashion.  Available in July at stores or at

Hunting and Gathering

Accessory Aptitude

Everyone’s in on the accessory act these days… Clothing-only retailers and

J.Crew crystal rock necklace

designers have discovered the quick-buy appeal of the covet-able accessory. Adding accessories makes for one-stop shopping, and key — accessories are a lot less expensive than a whole new outfit — that old lipstick luxury rule again. (You know, when a woman buys a lipstick to make herself feel updated.) Can recession reactionary, depression diva be far behind? Actually, let’s really hope so…

Lines that never did accessories are putting their hats — and necklaces, earrings, bags and shoes — in the ring, and others who did small groups are really

Fenton-Fallon for J.Crew Carrington crystal bow necklace

expanding. And most are doing a very good job, albeit some with the help of fairly big names in the accessory field as ghost-designers.

So, there were some really nice surprises the other day when I browsed through well-priced stores and websites for great spring necklaces–and it won’t take your grocery money to own them.

Necklaces were still big on the runway this season, and now they’re shorter, chunkier, and can be worn piled up with longer-length necklaces two or three at a time. Here are some of the best:

J.Crew has done a great job on their accessories for years now — one of the first

J.Crew crystal corona necklace

catalogs to add them into their mix. The collection has grown, but maintains its sharp focus on the key, very desirable items of a season. Here, a couple of their terrific necklaces set the standard for spring. At $128.00, their pink crystal rock necklace would look awesome against gray for day — from a gray cashmere cardigan and jeans, to a gray sheath dress, and totally great with just a gray cotton athletic tee. They’ve also teamed up with jewelry designer Dana Lorenz for Fenton/Fallon to create a really feminine but chunky beauty that needs the simplest of clothes to make you look major. Jeans, a white tee and a Chanel-type spring jacket are just perfect with this $295.00 investment piece. Their crystal corona necklace at $118.00 would be great to layer under a chunky piece, but super all on its own with, say a smooth white dress. Summer made simple.

Lee Angel's statement necklace

One of my all-time favorite jewelry designers, Roxanne Assoulin for Lee Angel, actually does some of that ghost designing I alluded to, but always comes up with great, very want-able, bold statement necklaces for her own line too each season. And her faceted glass disk neck on charcoal gray cord is a perfect example, adding a totally chic, sophisticated slant to any outfit. It’s $185.00, but has the originality, weight and quality of pieces 3 times as expensive.

Banana Republic's metallic tribal necklace

Banana Republic went slightly warrior fierce in their mixed metal, fringe and stud effect neck. It definitely adds edge to any classic outfit, but doesn’t go overboard. At $69.50, it can be perfect with, say, a faded chambray shirt, military jacket and shorter tan canvas skirt, or, mixed up with a geometric print wrap shirt dress (We’d love the play of the geometric shapes against each other) for work, and it can definitely still dress up a plain black tee dress for going out.

Club Monaco's two gem necklaces

Club Monaco has two great statement pieces in their “Jenny” ($139.00) and “Jordana” ($119.00) silver chain and chunky crystal gem necks. Definitely be bold enough to wear them together. After all, if you’re counting on your accessories to update your look, why not use them for the full effect. It’s pleasantly attention-getting, and that’s sort of fun! These two will add some chic shimmer to a plain dress, or become a no-brainer addition to an eclectic mix of metallic, shine, embroidery and say, denim.

Noir's square stone necklac

Noir's cubic zirconium cluster

New-ish showroom nOir is the fashion stylists’ secret weapon. Whenever we need to add something extraordinary at a good price to a look, they’ll have an amazing piece you couldn’t have dreamed up, and it’s just perfect! Although their website doesn’t have nearly as much as the designers’ showroom, it’s got lots to spark up your style. Take this clear square stone neck for $220.00 that adds heft and shine to any outfit on its own and is a great base neck for piling on other sparklies. LOVE! Or, their cz cluster neck at $228.00– a winner for a white, black, gray or navy work or evening duds, or a navy blazer, white shirt and jeans on a Saturday with friends.

Simply Vera's lucite cluster feminine neck

Simply Vera pearl cluster neck

Simply Vera pearl and chain necklace

Simply Vera Vera Wang for Kohl’s gets slightly more romantic and less hard-edged for spring with some really pretty pearl, silver and crystal necks. You can add these together or wear alone and put charm in a simple look. I also love her clear lucite crystal and jet feminine shortie — just the thing for a spring evening. Who said you have to sacrifice design for price? Sweet.

Candi Stamm's pretty rocks

Also in a more romantic softer mood this spring is cool-find indie jewelry designer Candi Stamm. Her dreamy champagne color ribbon and stone necklace ($56.00) is really flattering to skin (especially winter-tired faces!) And if champagne’s not your thing (though who doesn’t want to get a glow on?), Candi’s got a whole line of terrific pieces from dark stones and gunmetal to gold, biker chic silvers, even great color. So, visit and request pix– You’ll love her, and her jewelry!

Chico's ribbon,glass,metal bead neck

Chico’s glass acrylic and metal bead neck

This season, Chicos really put a lot of work into their accessories, hitting all the top trends with some very stylish offerings. Their acrylic, metal and glass bead tribal necks ($47.25 for long Simona) in a sophisticated black/blue combination echoes the “world traveler” feeling in some of the spring collections. The Corinna coral, carnelian and bronze color longer neck at $59.50 is a well-done mix of freshwater pearl, coral, glass metal and acrylic beads– a polished ethnic touch one can see with a warm-toned Chanel-type jacket, white shirt and slim pants for work, jeans for casual.

Chicos also loves a bit of shine and has endless variations of the crystal-acrylic-silver metallic-black idea, and one of my favorites is their very bold silver bead cluster neck. It could turn any dress from blah to blazing for a night out, or a simple white shirt to wow. It’s $50.75 and a real look-maker.

Ann Taylor mixed stone, ribbon, and metal neck

Ann Taylor also has a flattering color thing going in some of their best pieces this spring. A peachy coral color neck frames the face with warmth and looks great with simple classics for work, a denim jacket and tee for weekend. And at $128.00 (and $68.00 for a less elaborate peach neck), you’re buying lots of style to add zing to spring.

American Eagle doesn’t do huge or chunky, but it has some very pretty skinnier necklaces that really speak chic when added together for an effortlessly stylish look — and they’re very affordable, which we love. The pink-ribboned one is $19.50 and the other two are $15.50. Now that’s what we call “recession reaction-ary”. And that’s just really , really smart.

AE pendant cluster neck

AE's charming pink ribbon neck

AE”s stone and cord neck

Buy Right Now

Just when winter’s becoming longer and drearier than we ever remember it, and the Northeast is being hit with another monster snowstorm, I walk into a store and see something so spring pretty, I am transported instantly to tulip time. And I need to envision something flowery t0 get me through this latest round of slush and ice (slice?)

The clearest, palest shell pink, just this side of a lavender tint, in a fitted short notch

Banana Republic's short crinkle blazer

collar jacket at Banana Republic is what sends me dreaming. It’s slightly shiny, too, which is cool, and it feels silky, though it’s made of cotton and nylon with a bit of metallic thread. I am not a pink person at all, but this is something I absolutely must have. (It comes in a nice stone beige color too, but it’s not nearly as delicious.)

I know this jacket will look great with jeans, white shorts, a silver mini for evening, not to mention great for work with gray, navy, white, beige, cream, or, mixing it with another pastel in a jean (there’ll be lots of pastel denim coming into the stores for spring) or a pastel slim skirt. It’s $130.00, but a piece of pretty that’ll have nine style lives through September.

Despite my being anti-pink, it’s a terrifically flattering color for winter-tired skin, too. And, on a day like this, feeling like you look enviably great, really helps you slog through all that “slice” out there. Even the snowmen might wolf-whistle…

This Minute

At The Tents

Isaac Mizrahi February 18th, 2010 — Today, Isaac Mizrahi was my last show ever (!) at the Bryant Park tents. It’s incredible to think the BP Tents will be no more. (As the whole world knows by now, the NY shows are moving up to Lincoln Center next season to free up BP “for the people” as the city wanted.)

I really can’t say enough good things about what amazing venue BP has been for the last 18 years for New York fashion– central, easy to get to, organized, glamorous, comfortable, fun and a real luxury to have, especially knowing the scattered, late-running, transportation and crowd control nightmare the NY shows used to be when I first became an editor. BP has been the center of the fashion universe for two weeks every year since then and it has cemented the polish, poise and presentation of many a designer, including some of the biggest names out there right now. Its catwalks readied these designers for the bigger world stage, and many literally grew up right under the granite lobby fountain there.

One of those was certainly Isaac Mizrahi himself, who began his company in 1988, but reached a new level of finesse as a designer with his mid-nineties collections and large audience presentations at the Tents. And no one appreciates a quintessentially New York story like the tents more than Isaac, who’s a real native New Yorker and New York storyteller himself. (Can’t you just see him in a musical about BP Fashion Week “Under The Fountain” ?) And, this Fall 2010 collection of his was an ode to New York and another park he loves – specifically Central Park.

Isaac has always been brilliant at grabbing a theme and running with it for his collections, and this one was a tour de force. Fall/winter camping in New York’s most famous 800 acres was the conceit and green, orange, and gold leafy autumn scrims hung from the ceiling and a gray cement sidewalk surfaced the runway.

The first segment, “Parka Avenue”, featured some great shiny loden-color puffer jackets, quilted dresses — including a great strapless zip one and a leaf patterned pouf vest, and leafy printed leggings. In between all the themed pieces was some great American sportswear, like the terrific cashmere and see-through plastic paneled coat that opened the show and the loden zip-out lining jacket that topped a silvery wool skirt. The clothes morphed into a nature-inspired leaf palette and Iris Strubegger looked very much like a young NY modern in a green-over-yellow organza draped strapless dress under a short quilted bomber and fur ruff.

Next, a shaggy autumn orange “Muppetfur” coat and vest added the chic humor Isaac is known for and a “one-of” fiery tangerine rectangular sequin dress under an orange blazer, and then a garnet one, lit up the catwalk like a NY sunset. A few blousey silhouettes that started here and re-appeared periodically in the collection were not as sharp as New York hard edges (and tough critics) require and fell flat, IM’s only misstep.

When evening glitter appeared, snow started falling from the tent roof, and the New York skyline dresses and coat that sparkled like cold white city lights against a black velvet sky, were brilliant. The last passage of the show included many beautiful long and short renditions of “winter fairies”. In particular, the long gray cashmere tank dress that exploded into a sweeping godee skirt, worn with a fur-trimmed hood, and the final dress on Karlie Kloss — a gold strapless bodice and tulle skirted floor-length confection — were true Gotham girl gowns.

Isaac’s terrific and very New York show was a fitting end to the Cinderella story of American fashion in Bryant Park. The tents will come down for good this time and the park will turn back into a pumpkin, albeit a nice leafy green one. And the excitement and glamour that is New York fashion will move on, with Isaac’s clear “glass” slipper boot in hand to see how it fits at Lincoln Center.

This Minute

At The Tents

Michael Kors 2/17/10 — Who better than the reigning king of American luxury to update Fall’s ubiquitous camel coat, the sweater dress, the gray sweat pant, the gray flannel trouser, the turtleneck and the peacoat? Michael Kors did just that beautifully in the Fall 2010 collection he showed this morning in Bryant Park. From the first outfit — a coyote fur vest and cashmere bodysuit with cashmere leg and arm warmers — it was apparent his was a journey to that mythical America where super-luxury fabrics are distilled into the most modern incarnations of classics we love, and where they are also within the reach of every great-looking woman who desires them. Yes — oh, yes — we all should dress that way, I agree… And, we all should have that bank account, too!

But, this is a collection line, and all about the dream, the designer’s vision, that will fuel sales from fragrance to fur and fabulous accessories, not to mention lust among his faithful. And there it succeeded wildly, pardon the pun…

In this luxe vision, a woman has plenty of fur–in coats, jackets, parkas, vests, even a skirt — and in those amazing stand alone fur hoods that are popping up in lots of shows, but best here. And, absolutely, she has great accessories — from a terrific cross-body cognac leather mailbag (that came out in gold a second later), to the wedge hiking boot that anchored a lot of looks, to just right brown belts, perfect fur and crush-down suede boots, and cashmere leg warmers for a great chunky winter sandal.

But, back to the clothes–how did Kors update these sporty chic classics? It was in how he combined them– see-through gold turtle with stretch gabardine pants, a silver Cire stormcoat and anthracite cashmere sweatpants – and what he made them of. There was new “crushed” and “crinkled” flannel, stretch in cashmere and flannel, mohair voile practically transparent turtlenecks. His modernization also came from how he shaped his new classics — really large cowls and very deep v’s and dolman sleeves on sweaters, super-high slits on a pleated below the knee kilt or slight A line button front skirts, a pleated, slouchy-at-the-top, slim leg new trouser, and an easy louche trouser skirt, and slits in the elbows of his narrow-sleeved coats and jackets for movement.

Whether this collection can be seen as further evidence that fashion is cleaning itself up, or just the right time for the already quintessential Kors modern classic style, remains to be seen. But, whatever the zeitgeist, his polished, but extremely easy sportswear chic looked so handsome, so very desirable, it might just inspire women to launch an economic recovery just to afford these stunning clothes.