POSTED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2008:
Old Man Winter Gets Creative
Stuck between old winter fashions and fresh spring trends, shoppers must merge the two seasons, and it's not easy
Layer Up. These next few weeks could best be spent transitioning from winter to spring. These dual styles are found at Isabella's, 1311 E. 35th St.
Is anyone else suffering from the blahs lately? I sit at my computer, staring at a blank Word document because that's all that is in my head--nada. Nothing has jolted me because really, what is there at the moment that's memorable? New Yorkers are setting up tents in Bryant Park and designers are doing last minute fittings for models for the very near Fashion Week, and that's important and valuable to the fashion world, but not right now.
It's important to the fashion world because the event strikes a cord in the major fashion metropolises, circles of famous people and major glossy magazine. The other 97 percent of the country twiddles their thumbs, heaving heavy sighs as they dress. Goodness gracious this time of year is so blank in fashion.
No, that blank was not a fill-in with an appropriately fitting curse word. It really does mean that these next few weeks are just time fillers. Look around anywhere and you'll see what I mean. The resources a typical person would use to find fashion inspiration are simply lacking. When people watching, can you tell that your fellow Tulsans have thrown in the towel? That they spent the first few weeks of winter creating well crafted, thought provoking ensembles, but have now just settled on whatever? It's the winter doldrums brought about by the lack of new looks and the convenience of wearing fleece and zip up hoodies.
Magazines are no better; even editors scrape the bottom of the fashion barrel when January and February hit the calendar. When the magazines do try, it only provokes a reader to become horribly frustrated. How dare you try to convince me of the merits of espadrilles or fuchsia strapless dresses when stores don't have them in stock and/or the weather doesn't permit them!
Sure, stores have pulled in a few new spring items but only enough to really tease you. That's if you can even manage to make it through the door. If you see another window display with big, bold declarations of "CLEARANCE SALE" or a number followed by a percentage sign and the word "off," you may have just kept walking. Now, I know a thing or two about advertising, so I can assure you that while this sale tactic worked well in January, a month later, consumers figure out that no matter how you word it, however big or bold, essentially stores trying to reel us in with the same crap we've seen since before Christmas. Only now it's $4 instead of $40, which really gets us griping.
And griping is what we could do. Or we could do something productive about our blah situation. I found my own inspiration when visiting Isabella's. The Brookside boutique, 1311 E. 35th St., had the markings of a store to get me riled up--Winter Sale signs. Yet, every item in every nook and cranny was fresh, even the old sale items because I hadn't laid eyes on them before.
And, for once, I saw that the winter items weren't old news and spring items weren't currently unwearable evil temptresses. There was an equilibrium that could literally be fashioned. Like all good times of fashion, this was a balancing act. These next few weeks could best be spent transitioning from winter to spring. It can allow a person to get a few last wearings of good winter wear and allow them to showcase their knowledge and love of spring trends. So grab those items from your closet that have a few more glory days, brace yourself to say goodbye and financially prepare to go find some winter appropriate spring pieces. It's transition time.
Cruise the Merchandise
Pardon me as I venture through my own closet, recalling what I wore earlier this year. The first things I see are flashes of cobalt blue. Winter shades tend to be more on the wuah-wuah side, so when late last fall we were given cobalt blue to wear during our winter blues, I hope you followed suit. I did and probably more than I should have, which makes me even sadder to find that nature's flashiest shade is riding into the sunset. In its "bright color of the season" place is the quintessential spring shade of bright pink. Before cotton candy-izing your wardrobe, give cobalt blue a snazzy farewell with some spring shoes.
I might have mocked the patent leather shoe slightly a few weeks ago, but I also said to embrace it. Cobalt is a showstopper, so compliment it with some shiny shoes, one of the first things I spotted in Isabella's. While you might want to go the "weather appropriate" route of a closed, pointy toe heel, add some more spring to your step with a peep-toe platform heel. Go completely peep toed (and risk your toes matching the blue of your shirt) or add opaque tights for a look that shows fashion past present and future.
If you've already invested in a bright pink spaghetti strap dress for the spring, you'll need to add some winter to wear it now. While these past few months have taught you that wider is better when it comes to belts over dresses, spring says otherwise. Survey says it is still time to wear belts over everything and with everything, but it's thin straps now. Same goes for headbands. The wider, almost turban-like headbands are a thing of the past, and narrow is now acceptable.
Keeping this in mind, if I were to create a spring outfit with winter in mind, I would go the route of the pink dress with a fitted black blazer over it. If you don't have one (good for every spring, winter and fall of your life), I do believe you can find one at Isabella's, where there are plenty of items in the essential dark color. Add a thin leather belt on top of the blazer in a bright shade (orange maybe) and a thin black headband. You're good to go.
But on these dreary winter days you might not be in that bright pink mood. You may just want to throw on some jeans and this winter's favorite staple, the turtleneck. This plain Jane look is the exact kind of outfit we turn to during the ho-hum winter blahs. Add some oomph to this basic with some big, big jewelry.
Jewelry, costume or otherwise, often gets neglected during the colder months of the year. I think that with all of our accessory energies being invested in making sure we are warm, we don't tend to add the little things. You really don't need a necklace if you're wearing a scarf and you can't have on hassle free gloves in you've got on rings and bracelets. And while I've flipped flopped several times on how I feel about necklaces on top of turtlenecks, I've finally come to realize that a big necklace looks super. Dainty necklaces or tiny, short chains featuring tiny pendants close to the neck look silly, but if you've got on a necklace that's bold, it works.
The best example I can think of rests in Isabella's front case. It's a sort of pendant, a large jagged mineral. It's several inches long and looks prehistoric and glamorous all at once. It features the sparkle every girl loves in a piece of jewelry, but also is eccentric enough to fit in with the eclectic pieces that will be very popular throughout 2008. Chose a big ol' necklace, ear lobe-stretching earrings or a cuffed bracelet, just choose them one at a time. That outfit, a big accessory and a pair of ankle boots and you're easily stepping into the next season.
So whether you choose to branch out to new stores or places you haven't visited in a while, like Isabella's (open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm), to find new things or give your winter wear a one-two punch with spring things, always remember that even when fashion is bad, you don't have to look bad too.
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