There are few things more classic than an LBD topped with a glamorous statement necklace and finished with little black pumps. It’s just the kind of look to recreate if you’re a fan of classic style. Then again, I suspect few of us have even the slightest of reasons to be strolling up 5th Avenue at dawn in an evening gown…which doesn’t at all mean we shouldn’t give that a try sometime :). But it does lead one to wonder if maybe the vibe couldn’t be re-imagined via a somewhat more accessible pathway for the daily lives of the non-Holly-Golightlys of us. Result of wonderings: I think it can. How? With the end goal of retaining the sophisticated vibe of the Little Black Outfit, but in a less fancy way, I metamorphosized the classic LBD into a more versatile pairing of a slim cable sweater and wide leg pants. The movement of the wide, straight legs carries an ineffable chic that elevates simple pairings, while offering more freedom than a long gown. From there, it's the accessories that make this look. I chose a pearl torsade as a subtle homage to the Tiffany statement necklace and added a crystal collar for a bit more oomph. The simple canvas of the black monochrome pieces can balance out a super bold choice like this. Next, I tossed in a shot of trend in the form of white accessories: a white belt (which could be optional or exchanged for a black one) and white ankle booties. Black booties or pumps could 100% work, but I loved the crispness and au courant feeling of the bright white. The booties also serve as one more way to bring the look more toward the casual side. I finished the styling with a simple, but sleek up-do, or half up-do. Oversize sunnies are encouraged as well :).
Pearls have been revered for thousands of years for their soft iridescent beauty. Once the exclusive province of the very wealthy, they were made more accessible by cultured variations and became a hallmark of chic, due to being the choice of style mavens of various eras. Chanel was a devotee and often wore multiple layers of them. She adored costume jewelry and, through her example and design aesthetic, popularized faux pearls. The gems experienced another resurgence in the 1960’s when Jackie Kennedy was photographed with baby John Jr., wearing a three-strand necklace – also a faux creation. She also wore a single strand collar on her wedding day, helping to make pearls an integral part of the fashion of that era and beyond. In addition to their classic aura, pearls have a chameleon-like ability to be appropriate for any occasion, making them a must-have for every fashionista’s jewelry box. Pearls are measured in millimeters. As a guide, a 6mm pearl will just fit inside the curve of a large paper clip, while a 14mm pearl is about the same diameter as an AA battery. As a general rule, the smaller diameters are the right scale for petite women, while larger pearls work better on Rubenesque frames. Naturally, the rule can be skirted around ;) – layer small pearls to get a bolder effect, play with lengths and simple strands to make large pieces work for a smaller build.
Prologue: vintage faux pearls often have an ivory shading, giving them the patina of heirloom real pearls, which tend to become creamier and develop a more beautiful luster as they worn. Check for collectible fashion jewelry on eBay and Etsy…or in your old box of dress-up clothes, or your Mom’s/aunts’/grandmother’s jewelry collections – assuming they’re amenable to lending or parting with them ;). I have an opera-length necklace of my Mom’s faux pearls, which I adore, both because the beads are gorgeous and because it was hers. I love pearls in general and go through periods of being obsessed with them, but – like Chanel – I’m especially attracted to the idea of “ropes of pearls” and consequently go wild over extra-long strands :). Here are a few more of my faves (note: all are either faux or man-made):
1. 12mm White Pearl & Sterling Silver Necklace by Majorica
*Majorica is a brand that specializes in cultured pearls. They can be a little pricey, but the pieces are of excellent, collectible quality.
2. 10mm 72" White Pearl Rope Necklace by Carolee - I LOVE the length of this piece - it's opulent! Here is a slightly smaller-scale version by Ralph Lauren, featuring 8mm pearls and a 60" length.
3. Sicilia Necklace w/ 14mm Cultured Pearl by Majorica - I'm so in for the casual feel of the black leather cord.
4. 10mm Man-made Pearl Stud Earrings by Majorica
5. Two Row Adjustable Choker by Carolee
6. Pearl Spike Steel Necklace by Majorica - I'm wild over the danger-meets-femme vibe of this piece :)
7. 8 Row Torsade Necklace by Gemma Layne - the luxe vibe of a torsade is a worthwhile addition to any pearl collection!
8. 10mm 18" Pearl Necklace by Ralph Lauren, also a 14mm version, and a 16" 6mm version
9. 60" Convertible Double Strand by Carolee - this piece is amazing! The circular beads and clasp allow it to be converted between 1, 2 and 3 rows, as well as into a lariat. It's like four necklaces in one. I adore that kind of practicality in a beautiful piece!
10. 10mm Pearl Studs by Ralph Lauren
11. 6mm Pearl Studs by Majorica.
Not shown: 14mm Pearl Studs by Carolee
I can't resist including this piece by Nadri, as well; it's a lovely homage to Jackie's three-strand necklace.
Romance seems to be everywhere in February - the month is full of it. The joy inherent in romance can arise from nearly anything we savor, enjoy and invest our energy in. Because this is such a quiet moment for fashion – the lull before the spring storm – I often spend it reconnecting to my romance with fashion and the things that brought me to this place in my style journey. The foundation of that love is classic pieces – items that, like a great romance, transcend time, items that I can turn to and rely on over and over again, that always give me a thrill when I put them on, that have earned their place on the Need To Be In Every Wardrobe At Some Point list. Now is a great time to look for any you’re in need of as there are so many sales going on, ahead of the incoming spring crush. What’s better than picking up a piece you’ll wear for years at a fabulous discount? ;)
And what are the ones I love?
1. The LBD – Maybe no piece in the history of pieces has become as indelibly classic as the little black dress. You can make it fancy, make it less so. It works for work, it works for after work, it works for ‘just because you love it’. Look for a piece with a silhouette that flatters your body. It doesn’t have to be a sheath; A-line, empire, wrap and shift styles are just as timeless. This is not a place to look for the latest trends. Stick with minimalist pieces or items with details that transcend decades: boatneck instead of off-the-shoulder, lace details instead of cutouts. Skip sheer. Note: if your feeling about dresses is “not-even-if-I-was-unconscious”, substitute a black suit here, with classic minimal blazer and straight-leg (not too skinny, not too wide; the middle ground is your friend!) trouser. It will do similar duty.
2. The Trench (or Wool) Overcoat – The long, dramatic and functional style is having a moment right now, but it will be just as relevant in a few years or a few decades. It’s incredibly versatile, formal enough to slip over gowns for chilly holiday events, but simple enough in style and silhouette to toss over a hoodie for a little extra panache. Look for functional neutrals like black, gray, navy and beige, or classic patterns like tweed or Glen plaid. Avoid the deconstructed and strong-shouldered pieces that are currently ruling the runways and lean toward coats with classic details: a belt, a double breasted style, unique buttons, ruffles (as long as they’re subtle). Keep in mind that the longer lengths tend to give you the most options for pairings. Also, pay attention to the design and size of the collar, especially if you’re petite – an over-sized silhouette can be overwhelming for a small frame, so lean toward pieces with standard or smaller-scale details.
3. Pearls – It’s easy to think of diamonds as the classic jewel, but pearls supersede them in versatility. Not only are they beautiful, but they truly do it all, staying appropriate even in places where the sparkle and shine of crystal is over-the-top. That chameleon-like ability has made them beloved by stylish ladies from Chanel to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, not to mention any number of royals throughout history. Whether you choose subtle studs and a single strand or multitudes of opera-length necklaces (or both! :)), a few pearls should always reside in your jewelry box. After timeless design (avoid pieces that combine pearls with Lucite, for example) and quality (look for pieces on thread, not wire, that have knots between each pearl – this keeps the gems from shifting over time), the most important consideration in choosing pearls is scale. If you’re petite, stay with pieces made from pearls 8mm and below (6mm is a sweet spot, larger sizes will give you a bolder, more avant garde look). If you’re plus size, choose strands in the 10mm or above range (note: you can segue easily around this, though, by layering smaller-scale pieces to create greater effect). If you’re in the middle, 6-12mm pieces will do nicely.
I tend to forget about wearing dresses for non-fancy occasions in the winter…until this time in the season when I start to get really, extremely...ok *excruciatingly*!... bored with pants. With a couple of underlayers, non-pant pieces can be just as comfy and warm and they make such a refreshing alternative to suit pants, denim and leggings. The key is longer pieces that you can hide warm layers beneath. Leggings and thermal tights under long skirts and dresses are The. Best. Invention. I love the flowy, enchanted, 70’s vibe of this ruffle-trimmed maxi. And the glowing scarlet shade makes you feel warmer just looking at it, doesn’t it? Imagine actually wearing it! If you’re not into full-on intense color, never fear – just do it with accessories instead of the (a) main piece(s). I love wearing lace-accented pieces under v-necks; it adds an extra dimension to the dress, whether minimal or embellished, and it gives it a different feel than wearing it alone. Sleeveless pieces can work with this application too – just add a collared long-sleeved blouse underneath. Hint: dress down fancier neutrals by layering a flannel shirt below and get warmth and winterizing in one smooth choice. I love getting fancy dresses to do double duty via this kind of styling! PS if you don’t have a dress that works, you can achieve a similar look with a blouse and maxi skirt. Matching colors will give the look of a dress, but aren’t crucial to the styling’s success. Food for thought: if you happen to be using a blouse with lace or open-work, choosing a colored underlayer instead of a matching one is a stunning way to highlight the pattern. Add extra warmth and dress down the look by topping the ensemble with a jacket. The 70’s-referencing peacoat is a fab choice (I went with a faux fur version, but a wool piece works just as nicely). Alternatively, reach for a boxy jacket at hip length or slightly cropped. Again, faux fur works, but moto, military and aviator styles in nearly any fabric (velvet, corduroy, cotton, leather, even polished fleece or Sherpa pieces) will all do flawlessly. Got none of those? No prob –reach for a classic denim piece. Complete the styling with flat OTKs that act as one more warm layer (aside: knee-height and mid-calf boots are totally do-able as well!). Since we’re keeping this look on the not-too-fancy side, jewelry can be minimal – statement earrings or a ring, a tiny pendant…or none at all :). Happy styling!
So, since the various cute and furry rodents whose opinions were sought regarding the continuance of cold weather all seem to agree we’re not getting out the woods just yet, I’ve been busy creating a few more cozy options to have on standby. I’ve had this look in my head for awhile and this seems the time to get it out of my head :). Calling all you fashionistas who have a metallic sweater hanging around in the bowels of your closet: let’s give that baby some daylight, shall we? (If you are living sans metallic sweaters, consider a metallic button-down, a crushed velvet blouse or cami or a sequined piece here). Give the look some chill vibes by pairing it with cuffed boyfriend jeans (skinnies totally work too, so don’t stress over silhouette). Top the metallic with a long cardigan for extra warmth (and to pick up on that whole duster/long topper trend). I love the pairing of blush with pale blue denim, but really, it’s open season for color palettes with this look. Classic neutrals work (black and gold, navy and silver). Not-so-classic neutrals work (olive and gold, sage and silver). Brights work. So start with what ya got and go from there. Whatever denim style you choose, cuff it if it’s full- length and make sure it stops above where the boot shaft narrows, or above where your leg shows over the top of of the shaft. Tucking skinny jeans into mid-calf boots is totally an option as well (shoutout to slouch boots here, if ya got ‘em :)). My first thought for completing this look was gray suede ankle booties, but if you’re proud possessor of a pair of metallic silver ones, this would be a perfect spot to try out that trend. Don’t shy away from black boots as an option either. Tie the darker color in to the look by adding a short pendant or choker on a black satin or velvet cord. Metallic heels are a flawless choice as well. Feel free to add statement earrings (coordinate with your sweater or the metallic) or a selection of band rings if the spirit moves you. If a chunky knit scarf calls to you on your way out the door , heed it – cozy is a good thing! Cozy and stylish is an even better thing :), so rock that scarf-age. Happy cold-weather styling, loves!
Brie (Hi!) More re: me under About. I'm the moving spirit behind this little life-meets-fashion fairy tale world, the home of my non-wrestling-related style musings and loves.