This scene, in which Audrey Hepburn as bookworm-turned-model Jo Stockton tosses her wrap above her head as she walks down the stairs as part of a photoshoot, is one of the most memorable and beautiful in the movie. It is the moment where Jo full steps into her own as a model. It’s more than just stunning cinematography, though; it’s also gorgeous from a fashion perspective. Her simple red dress and accessories are enviably elegant, demonstrating the full impact of a monochromatic look, which relies predominantly on color to create an impact. Her white elbow gloves and crystal statement collar necklace provide the finishing touches of glamour to this magnificent ensemble. The same principle works wonderfully for everyday wear – although we can leave the gloves and massive gems at home ;). The look follows the trademark elements of the Hepburn-Givenchy partnership: simplicity, tailoring, femininity. In this case, the femme vibe is derived from the way the silhouette follows the body, as well as the diaphanous effect of the floating scarf. Recreate the concept with a vibrant bodycon dress in a knee or midi length. The effect of the red is divine, but if that’s not your color, consider another saturated shade -like magenta, cobalt or eggplant – or create a softer effect with blush tones. Add matching flats, or take a cue from Audrey’s gloves and finish the look with a bright white pair. Classic black will of course also work fabulously if matching and/or white shoes aren’t yet among your wardrobe. Also, definitely consider kitten heels instead of flats if you prefer a heel with a midi length – I always do! Toss a monochrome scarf around your neck to add lightness and movement to the minimalist canvas. If you need to create space between the scarf and the neckline of the dress, twist the scarf (as if you were wringing water out of it) for the length you intend to wrap – that will make it narrower, while allowing the tails to fly free. You can also create less volume overall by leaving one tail draping down your back, instead of in front. Add simple jewelry: metallic stud earrings and/or a slim bangle as finishing touches. Classic silver and gold work beautifully, but I also love the idea of giving the look a modern twist by using rose gold as a subtle play on the trendy red-and-pink combo. And voilà…you’re ready for your very own Audrey moment. (A long staircase and a friend to take the snap is 100% optional ;)).
With the passing of legendary designer Hubert de Givenchy earlier this month, I couldn’t help but immerse myself in reviewing and admiring his work yet again. As a long-time devotee of Audrey Hepburn’s style, his most iconic works are immediately and intimately familiar: both LBD’s from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the embroidered gown from Sabrina (and the film’s own LBD as well!), the red gown from Funny Face. The lace ensemble from How To Steal A Million is one of my personal favorites; it is achingly chic and so impactful! But he designed so much more than just dresses! Jackie Kennedy’s tweed suit during her 1961 visit to Paris, Audrey’s beautifully tailored overcoats in Charade, the ruffle-sleeved white blouse made famous by model Bettina -which would look perfectly at home in today’s style guides, paired with blue denim – were all his creations as well. Hepburn and Givenchy were lifelong friends and their collaborations – both on film and off – serve as a curated guide to his sophisticated vision: simplicity (also a defining characteristic of Hepburn’s fashion sense), boldly drawn shapes, and femininity - whether achieved through tailoring or embellishment. Although he retired as head of his eponymous fashion house in 1995, Givenchy never stopped sketching designs (by hand, with colored pencils). I love the idea of this incredible artist, dreaming away as ever, never giving up on his creativity!
All this binge-imaging naturally got me thinking about outfits that would fall into this genre :). The first that I wanted to explore was embroidery, famously seen in both the Sabrina dress (which actually was made by Edith Head and the dressmakers at Paramount, from Givenchy’s design based on the ‘ Inez de Castro’ dress from his 1953 Spring/Summer collection), and the gown worn by Jackie Kennedy to Versailles when meeting President Charles de Gaulle during her Paris tour. For Givenchy, the embroidery acted as the standout touch, the coup de grace of an otherwise edited look. I re-envisioned the concept in a less formal way – with pants, instead of gowns. A skirt would work perfectly, as well! I also leaned toward matchy-ier selections for an iconic vibe, rather than more off-beat and modern choices. Start with whatever embroidered piece you have and consider it your focal point. Then, add pieces around it that are intentionally simple: layer a basic black tee beneath an embroidered blouse. Add black suit pants with a straight silhouette. Finish the look with plain black flats. Keep jewelry spare, but add a polished bun to reinforce the classic chic feel. Alternatively, combine an embroidered sweater or sweatshirt with slim capri or cropped chinos or ponte pants (the fabric adds subtle, but important, elevation; resist the temptation to reach for leggings :)). Finish with pointed flats or ballets, either plain or with understated embellishments – yes to bows or buckles, no to gems and sequins), stud earrings and a sleek low pony. If you’re going with an embroidered skirt, reverse the concept and go with super-simple pieces on top: a fully-tucked, plain sweater or an unembellished button-down. Same concepts apply regarding refined hairstyles and minimal jewelry :). I hope this inspires you to try some Givenchy-esque embroidery in your looks! Happy styling :)
Are you ready for your speed-guide to the directions fashion is heading in this spring? Here's all you need to know, pithy version:
Synopsis: 70's casual glam meets 80's excess meets 90's irreverance
Staying: sport/athleisure, florals, blue denim, ruffles, the trench, oversized silhouettes, strong shoulders, white - both accessories and monochrome
Picking up steam: maximalism - embellishments of many ilks, frills, fringe. Sequins. The 80's (strong shoulders, statement sleeves, embellished everything, oversized silhouettes). Pastels, especially lilac. Yellow is making a comeback. Also clean, strong colors. Not 80's neons, but intense. Plastic-wear. Pearls.
Coloring the above: plaids and checks, logos. Slouchy, low-key 90's attitude (think off-duty Selena Gomez).
Chanel famously once said that women should have ropes of pearls. Ropes of pearls. The phrase immediately inflames my imagination, conjuring up abundance and drama. Who doesn’t want to feel that from an outfit? And how to get there? Chanel explained her meaning by example, wearing multitudes of pearls to give consequence and chic to a simple look. Layering jewels in this way always elevates an outfit, granting elegance to a little black dress and making a simple sweater into something far more intriguing. The latter look is the one I particularly wanted to explore – Chanel’s ease, translated into the more casual style of today. A bold jewlery look like this makes a strong statement that can be highlighted by setting it against a minimalist backdrop. Despite that, subtle variations can give the same theme slightly different vibes. The basic pieces are ridic easy: black sweater, blue denim. But exactly which black sweater? A chunky, slouchy version gives this look a street-style cool-girl vibe, especially when paired with cuffed boy jeans. A refined cable iteration creates classic chic that's enhanced by combining it with straight denim. Toss a button-down underneath for an extra touch of polish. A strong-shouldered or blouson-sleeved piece conveys sophistication and modern femininity when matched with slim or skinny jeans. Pick your passion...or try out all three ;).
Ok, now the crucial (and mad fun!) part: pearls -and tons of them! Grab whatever you have - the more lengths, the better! Combining multiple millimeter sizes is a definite yes. Mix it up: throw on one opera-length piece at full length, double or triple another...or two. Try a collar, a 24" piece and a 36" piece layered together. Include necklaces with pearls set in stations, and/or with chain in between. These designs are especially good for counteracting the formal aspect of pearls and giving a jaunty attitude to a look, so I love them with the chunky sweater/boy jean iteration. If you don't have such a piece, np - just layer in a long plain chain (you can also twist it around a pearl necklace of similar length) or a couple shorter ones in a matching metal. The striking gesture of multiple layers is enough to spice up the classic cable sweater, but feel free to throw in another twist by using multiple colors of pearls, or creating the look of a pendant by putting a knot in a long pearl strand (36" or longer will work). Ditto for the feminine piece with sleeve or shoulder details. Alternatively, play up the vintage vibe or add a dash of glam by pinning a pearl, metal or crystal brooch among your layered necklaces. Cement the vibe of each variation with your shoe choice: black ankle booties with the chunky sweater, classy pointed flats with the cable, simple black pumps with the ladylike piece. I hope this inspires you to try turning Chanel's phrase into your outfit of the day (or dayS :)) sometime soon! XO
Zendaya’s Oscars look really lit up my world! It was a stunning execution of a piece in a distinctive and unusual color. That got me wondering why it is so unusual. Why don’t we see more brown in fashion? The world raves over black and beige, but rich, gorgeous brown takes a back seat. And it doesn’t seem to me that it should. It’s a color of luxury, decadence and nature: chocolate candy and cocoa, coffee, mink fur, maple syrup, tree bark, antique wood. It’s the lush, warm variant of black, made for anchoring jewel tone looks and grounding fiery bright shades and has the intriguing quality of being both opulent and a comfort color. I gravitate toward iterations created with gold, burgundy and amber hues, as I find them much easier to pair up than cooler taupe tones with a lot of gray or black in them. Try chocolate, mahogany and coffee tones with crimson, garnet, coral, peach, mango yellow, amber and ivory for complementary looks, or contrast the warmth with cool cobalt (Wendy at Wendy’s Lookbook does it beautifully here), forest green or vibrant eggplant. Play up the earthy side of these hues with 70s-referencing or bohemian-tinged pieces, or slant your look to the sophisticated side with preppy-leaning combinations. Accessorize it with pearls – their soft glow melds perfectly with the earthy, elegant vibe – or gold metal pieces. Definitely also give your rose gold pieces a chance to play here too – blush and chocolate is in incredible pairing! Brown is also dynamite with leopard print. While black enhances the cool tones of the spots, brown pulls forward the warm glow of the backdrop. Don’t forget about doing accessories in the shade, either. Brown leather boots are ultra-classic and chic, especially paired with simple classics (think ivory cable sweater and blue denim, or a tweed hunting jacket and leggings). Crushing on brown yet? Maybe it's time to have your own Zendaya moment! ;)
The classic silk scarf is a beloved accessory for good reason. It’s an easy way to add a dash of color or finishing touch to a look and always brings a sophisticated vibe, whether it’s used as a counterpoint or exclamation point. Whether you choose a single swathe of solid color or a gorgeous print, a silk scarf represents a piece of wearable art. Many major fabric and couture houses, like Hermes in France, Etro in Italy and Liberty in London, collaborate with artists to produce unique and beautiful designs, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art creates magnificent pieces based on items in their collection, allowing you to wear a replica of Monet’s Water Lilies or Louis Tiffany’s stained glass. Scarves become a wonderful way to liberate art from galleries and allow it to beautify real life. Because of this association with art, many scarves transcend decades, staying relevant over many years. This is especially true of pieces that are classic in genre to begin with: neutral shades, solids, stripes, florals, leopard, paisleys. While there are currently a variety of avant garde shapes being offered (infinity, triangles, diamonds), the classic scarf is usually one of two shapes: square or rectangle (always called “oblong”). The oblong shape is my favorite for versatility (especially long ones in the 70” range), followed closely by large squares (36”x36” or more). The light weight of silk fabric creates a number of folding and twisting options without bulk: wide oblongs can be rolled to create a skinny style or knotted at various places to form a necklace. Smaller squares (and many oblongs too!) can be folded to double as pocket squares or rolled and tied to become a bracelet. In addition to the color and beauty, one of my favorite aspects of scarves is how much functionally you get form a single item. It makes them a practical wardrobe addition, as well as an enjoyable one. Here are a few that I love:
1. Sheer Rose Print Scarf by Vince Camuto (*Note: this item is a viscose/silk blend, not pure silk)
2. Scroll Print Silk Foulard by Saks
3. Geo Trellis Silk Oblong by Echo
4. Poppy Leopard Silk Scarf by Vince Camuto
5. Roxanne Square Silk Scarf by Ralph Lauren
6. Bloomsbury Silk Square by Echo
7. Chevron Stripe Silk Scarf by Ralph Lauren
8. Ombre Leopard Silk Scarf by Vince Camuto
9. Solid Silk Oblong by Echo
PS Many silk scarves are listed as 'dry clean only'. If that's a consideration for you, I will add that I've hand washed many of mine in cold water and air-dried them without any issue.
I received an important reminder this morning about the importance of styling -that it's not just what an outfit is comprised of but also the manner of the comprising that's important. The approach to the pieces is as critical as the pieces themselves in communicating a look and creating an impression. Along with what you choose, the way you put pieces together is an integral part of the essence of style. I had planned to wear a ruffled blouse and velvet blazer which I had not previously put together and when I got it all buttoned up and checked the mirror, I had that dreadful "uh-oh" feeling. It looked like a stuffy vintage tuxedo. Ugh. "Stiff Victorian gentleman" was so not the look I was going for. Drawing board - stat! First, I unbuttoned the blazer. That helped a lot. It loosened the vibe up and made it feel less masculine. Then I unbuttoned the top two buttons of the blouse. That was better yet, creating a much more relaxed connotation. Next, I added a simple belt and took out my bun, going with a half up-do instead, which was much softer. With these styling changes, the look metamorphosized into "chill, fancy femme". Phew. Because my typical time crunch made a whole new ensemble out of the question.
I needed similar tweaks with another recent look which paired a coffee chino blazer with a blue silk blouse. I had intended to wear the blouse with a full tuck and the jacket unbuttoned for the fancy/chill contrast, but the cut of the jacket made that look much too casual for the office meeting I was heading to. Buttoning the blazer was a huge improvement, but I missed the strong shot of color from the blouse. I ended up leaving the silk piece fully un-tucked, allowing the hem of the shirt to show below the jacket. That carried the color thought the look, as well as creating an artsy handkerchief-hem effect that appealed to my sartorial sense.
It’s so fascinating to me that the same items in different hands, or styled differently, can have totally distinct vibes, based on the way they are worn. Finding unique and interesting ways to place, layer and utilize items can even become the trademark of a style aesthetic. One of my favorite modern style icons, Jenna Lyons, is known for just that. She was constantly fully buttoning denim jackets to pair with with ball gowns, leaving shirt tails peeking from beneath blazers, flipping back blouse cuffs, tying belts and working the slouchy half-tuck. While surprising pairings and proportion plays are also crucial elements of her signature, her multitude of ways to express casual fanciness and polished chill were the exclamation points that made her style so infinitely enviable and accessible. For fun, I put Jenna’s looks side by side with another of my favorite fashion goddesses, Audrey Hepburn. I love both ladies’ style, but their looks could never be mistaken for one another, even when they’re wearing similar elements! :)
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.