Chances are, by now, you have opened up all your holiday loot. You've unwrapped things you expected, things that surprised you, items you had on the tiptop of your list and things you received that you were super gracious for but will never use. Really, every bad gift is like a choose-your-own-adventure book. I'm sure you remember those from when you were a kid-the ones that gave you the option to create your own story by turning to a certain page? Well, with unfortunate gifts, your adventure could take you to a battle with long return lines and store clerks that can't budge from return policies (turn to page 24) or keeping what you hate and will never use/wear/enjoy (skip to the last page). But there are other kinds of choose-your-own-adventure gifts as well: gift cards and money.
These particular gifts have received such bad word-of-mouth publicity. The assumption is that a person doesn't put enough thought and energy into a gift unless he goes and selects some three-dimensional object from a store and elaborately wraps it. Entirely the wrong idea because he still had to think of a place suitable for you and obtain the card, battle holiday traffic (and most recently tree limbs and power outages), and stand in what I'm sure was a long ass line, all for that card.
And to add to that, I give you the story of what my grandfather did last year. He purchased a brand new wallet for my grandmother and filled the credit card slots with gift cards to some of her favorite stores. And while other gift givers may not put that much thought into a gift card, check or cash, they didn't have to get you anything. Sorry for the digression; this about what to do with your new gift.
With whatever your holiday currency is, the adventure can begin. The fate of what you want and when you want to get it is completely up to you. Do take into consideration that some gift cards have charges that are accruing once the activation of the card hits a certain date (generally after six months, they will subtract charges from your overall total). There may also be expiration dates, so always read the fine print. Yes, this is righteously unfair, but if you're like me, you can't wait that long anyway. For me, that little piece of plastic burns a hole in my pocket, and a burnt pocket means I need new pants. And new pants mean I need a new top and a new top means new shoes. New shoes mean it is time to find out what is new for the New Year.
People heading out in the days and weeks following the holiday will be compelled to go for the sale items. Yes, these clearanced gems will give you more bang for your buck, but this winter wear might not have the staying power to be useful throughout the rest of the year. Next year's trends may cost more, but they will give you more wear in the coming months.
You know, hopefully, because no trend is set in stone.
There are always items that are supposed "musts" for a season or year, with magazine spreads displaying items needed by everyone to be in style. These predictions are made from fashion shows that happened months ago. But, what is fierce for a prepubescent, emaciated Eastern European girl-model walking down a few feet of runway doesn't necessarily translate well to average people living normal lives. Yes, I just used fierce, because it's used so prominently today in fashion that I overwhelmingly felt I needed to use it (glad that's out of my system). Take for instance every designer and magazine instructing that this is the time for sheer clothing. Sheer, transparent, gauzy fabrics are the supposed hit of the season, but, excluding one night of hitting the town when you're feeling especially randy, these floozy items are not a good buy.
Feathers are also very "now," but try to find a great accessory featuring them; not a poodle skirt splayed with peacock feathers. Honestly, if you find something like that here in Tulsa, please do buy and wear it. But really, use your grandma's gift card on something a little bit more real. And really cute. These are true recommendations.
So what do you need to look good (or should I say great for clever rhyming) for 2008? It's about color. This sounds so simple, right? I mean, we aren't walking about in black, white, grey and brown, but this year it's about expanding every notion you have ever made about color in your wardrobe. If your closet was a box of Crayola Crayons, you definitely have the colors represented by the eight-count box covered and you may have expanded some items into the shades found in the 24 count.
Now, a decade (give or take some years) ago the good people at Crayola created the 96-count box of crayons. It is these colors and shades from which the clothing for 2008 was created. It's not just jewel tones or bright shades or neon colors or muted tones--it is all of them. And here's the real kicker-it's not about wearing one of these atypical rainbow colors, it's wearing several.
Pre-2008, the average American wore one brightly colored piece with a standard basic. Bright top with jeans and bold colored skirt with black top. This year, color is being redefined. I'm sure many of you have branched out, but if you haven't, embrace this trend that makes it universally accepted to experiment with color. You can ease yourself into this paradigm shift by going with a monochromatic look.
This isn't harnessing your inner Johnny Cash either; black on black is reliable, certainly, but try two tones of teal or purple. Could be as simple as a dress and tights in the same color family or a top-pants combo. But you could also dive in head first with an outfit that looks like you may have dressed in the dark. A pea green top, cornflower blue skirt and cotton candy pink shoes could just be one of the dozens of options you could and should opt for in 2008. Plus, a lot of stores will already have a lot of color options on hand.
Case in point is this season's prints. The votes have been tallied and polka dots are a print of the past. In its place is anything else under the sun, including floral. These aren't the flowers from your childhood Laura Ashley dresses and they don't resemble even slightly what a comforter might have scattered across it. These are exotic faunas in Technicolor vividness. Go as little or as lot as your personal style comfort will allow-just remember to keep the prints in the opposite of your size. The smaller you are, the bigger the blooms can be; larger ladies should find smaller flower prints. But no matter what size you are, go bright and bold or go home.
And if you're not going home, consider going somewhere global. 2008 has been inspired from regions throughout Africa and Asia. Things in structured khaki go hand in hand with this safari-themed area of fashion, but in the year of the print, try patterns and shades with a more ethnic or tribal association.
Case in point--the ikat. I don't know how to describe ikat without getting all textile textbook on you. Its literal translation is "to bind" and this hand woven fabric in rich earth tones is prominent throughout the world. With their geometric patterns and the concept of "tribal" placed in your head, you'll comprehend ikat when you see it. Use this trend to explore your own background with a print representing your personal culture or just embrace it for its bold, beautiful look. Keep it 2008 with modern pieces of jewelry or high, high heels.
Pair it with geometric tights in a zigzag pattern, or something else with a completely sporadic print. Apparently, just as color has no barriers this year, neither do prints. We might look back on 2008 like we look at the trends of the early '90s. Pictures of people wearing loud colors and pattern over pattern may be the new parachute pants and shoulder pads. Or, it might be the beginning of the new standard for years to come.
February 1 marks the date when designers hit Bryant Park for New York's fall fashion week. Suddenly, we'll be bombarded with a whole new set of rules for the year. But, you and your gift cards may not be able to wait that long. Take them and choose your own fashion adventure for early 2008.
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