Chasing Summer (Skirts): It’s All In The Details

The original Burberry Prorsum loop knot skirt

Alexander Wang drape skirt dress

The very best skirts of summer 2010 add tons of chic to an outfit, but are fun and even a bit whimsical. The reason? The coolest have great, interesting details or shapes that give them some volume – ruching, draping, pleating, layered asymetrical panels, gathering, or just a fuller cut. (Burberry Prorsum‘s, left, was one of the first down the runway for spring and an inspiration for many.)

This slight fullness makes them much more interesting than the plain old straight and narrow pencil skirt. These skirts can function almost like an accessory, adding zest and flavor to an outfit, giving the eye something to land on in the silhouette.

And, interesting skirts are also everywhere you turn at retail these days. I took a walk down lower Broadway yesterday– absolutely every store is there — and spotted windows focused on skirts from at least six or seven cool brands, and some great skirts even from brands not so cutting-edge. Then, I scrolled through some of my favorite websites to cull the right pieces for you, too. Here are some of the best to punch up your summer look:

Reiss draped skirt at asos.com

Nanette Lepore skirt at bloomingdales.com

Alexander Wang, above right, added his own version of a twist and drape that makes the wearer actually look narrower – huh? We’ll all go for that–even at $395.00, on Net-a-Porter. Club Monaco has an absolutely amazing draped skirt of their own that I have on my must-have chic and affordable list. Zac Posen for Target — quite the launch party!–has a ruched side black skirt that’s an unbelievable $34.99. The British website, ASOS, fairly new to the US, is a web-only collection with their own label designs, as well as carefully selected pieces from other lines. They have a knock-out draped pocket skirt from Reiss at about $130.00 at today’s exchange rate. At Bloomingdale’s website, Nanette Lepore’s minimally pleated skirt shows how even a little interesting detail can make a work skirt look totally up to the minute, $118.00. Elizabeth and James also have a super skirt in the most brilliant shade of yellowy-gold that’s really elegant and slightly gathered. Loft, too, has a very nice subtly side gathered beige tailored skirt at $69.50 that will get you noticed in the office, or a silky front drape one in navy or pale stone that’s $39.99 and super-attractive. (Check these out–they are well worth it, even if I don’t have pics.)

And, most all of these slightly fuller skirts are fairly short, from micro-mini to a few inches above the knee. This range has the right length in it somewhere for every body, every age.

J.Crew summer tweed gathered skirt

ASOS purple pleated and tied skirt

Fuller Burberry Prorsum skirt

The waist-gathered, pleated or”paper-bagged” skirts that are around again run the gamut from the lusted-after Burberry Prorsum to a great ladylike J.Crew summer tweed for $138.00, to an ASOS light purple pleated and tied waist version that’s about $37.00 at the current exchange rate. They’re fun and figure-forgiving if you choose one that’s not too extreme in its details. (You can also find a bit longer versions.) A-line shapes like the super J.Crew gold a-line inverted pleat skirt below are also a way to get on the fullness bandwagon.

Gathered red skirt at Opening Ceremony

Diane Von Furstenberg olive fuller skirt

Marc by Marc Jacobs fuller plaid skirt

Gathered skirts can be fun and easy, especially on hot summer days. Opening Ceremony has a charming fuller red summer skirt for $230.00 that would look super with a smaller top and a boyfriend jacket. Zara has an all black slightly gathered version, as well as a cool black and white large-scale abstract print, both for $39.90. Diane Von Furstenbergs gathered and rick-racked fuller skirt at $235.00 is fun for weekend/going out, or for work with flats and a jacket or shorter cardigan. And MARC by Marc Jacobs full plaid skirt at bloomingdales.com could be a new wardrobe staple with a narrow tee, sweater or shirt for any situation.

JCrew A-line skirt

A detail that also looked great was the tiered skirt — usually ruffled layers, sometimes panels. There are really good ones at Zara, Club Monaco, Loft and Express. And these tiers needn’t be only for high school kids. They can be a fun way to add interest and are great paired with a tailored jacket. Remember – don’t be afraid to show your whimsical side.

The good news is that there are so many of these newly-detailed skirts at every price point, you can be sure to find one that’s the right length, fit and degree of whimsy to suit your wallet, comfort level and your fun threshold. Dressing with individuality should always be this easy!

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Chic, Flat-Out Comfort, Part Deux

It’s Shoe Week at Styl-d, and, yesterday, we focused on the newest flat shoe shapes for summer (see Part 1 in 3/5 post). The reason? It’s for those of us fashionistas who move too fast to hobble on the beautiful, but painful, four-inch, creatively heeled runway shoe sculptures designers showed for spring. Love’em, but hate’em.

Today, we look at the classics you’ll likely to already have in your closet — but may want to add a new version or color to. Yes, there are …

Still Chic Shapes

The Ballet Flat:

Always top of the list for comfort, there are more ballets than ever in tons of adorable permutations. Color is a great way to add a new ballet to your wardrobe and a nice finishing surprise to an outfit. Skin

Bloch cerise ballet slipper

— any lizard or snaky looking texture is terrific (ours at http://www.ralphlauren.com), and animal print is (and will be, those of you already looking ahead to fall) really prescient and fun.

Donald Pliner leopard flat

Ralph Lauren snake ballet flat


French Sole multicolor toe cap flat

Metallics and multicolors are an especially playful way to vary your ballet look, and toecaps add an expressive spot, too.

Marc Jacobs gold ballet

But you can’t beat the buttery feel and look of the terrific neutral basic like the Michael Kors, or the chic Delman classic. And Repetto, French maker of real ballet slippers, has entered the everyday shoe market with its own rainbow of colors in patents and suedes, and metallics. (In America, at bergdorfgoodman.com.)

Repetto aqua toceap flat

Michael Kors brown ballet slipper

Delman classic ballet

French Sole, too, a terrific ballet flat resource (www.frenchsole.com), specializes in the shape, and has more colors and variations than you can possibly dream up. Tory Burch, of course, made her name with her famous “Reva” ballet flat, which is still the gold standard of the company, but has added a wonderfully shaped, just terrifically chic-simple new ballet. And, naturally, our best American interpreter of current popular chic, J Crew, has some delicious new versions of their ballet, including a pom-pom’d toe metallic flat that’s just charming. (We bet Michelle Obama has more than a few pairs…) (At http://www.jcrew.com.) Ballet flat are around at every price point, from Target to Lanvin, so pick your brand, and revel in all the choices!

Tory Burch simply chic ballet

French Sole neon abstract print ballet

French Sole’s cadet blue piped version

Sneakers:

These will never be out of style in the American fashion vernacular — or for that matter, in the world’s style repetoire. They are too comfortable and too full of stylistic and design possibilities to ever give up. What varies is just what looks the most the most current to the fashion eye. We’ve all been in love for several seasons now with Converse high-tops, low-tops, destroyed or laceless Converse versions and they’re still great, but what looks a little newer again are the simple tie Keds, Toms and Superga shapes. You’ve got to choose the right moment, but a classic white Superga can make a work trouser outfit summer-chic on a busy day. And the colors are enough to make your day on the weekend. These three companies make enough variations to make your head spin!

Alice & Olivia for Keds sequinned sneak

Keds colored linen classic

Superga's quintessential shape

Thong and T- Strap Sandals:

Nine West knotted thong

There are naturally some amazing new variations of these popular shapes, and they are still very much a good flat option from casual flip flops to high-end softest leather and patent. But, the ones that are too thin and strippy should be saved for the weekend, or an after hours casual or a going-out look. Too bare and insubstantial on a work day just doesn’t cut it. There are also some amazing jewel and stone decorated sandals in this category too — just don’t look like you’re wearing the vault contents on each foot for day. More can be more, but on your feet, it looks like they are walking you into the room. Overdone is still just that — overdone.

Calvin Klein thong sandal

Michael Kors thong sandal

D&G thong sandal

One other important style note: When you buy a flat, buy a real flat –with no tiny heels or sliver wedges. They can really look matronly and slightly dumb. No one would want to ruin such a confident look with that note.

So, summer girls, celebrate having your feet on the ground! You CAN be as COMFORTABLE and STYLISH–as you want. Isn’t that what the season is supposed to be about, anyway? Yeahhhh…

(Note: Zappos.com was the resource for all looks not otherwise attributed.)

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 www.31philliplim.com.