Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Wear: Minimalism

When I travel, I try to pack in a basic color story with items that can be worn many ways.  This makes for easy mixing-and-match, lighter packing, and forces me to look at pieces in a new light.  Then I got to thinking, "Why am I not doing this all the time?"  When the latest issue of Real Simple arrived in the mail, I really saw the light.  They have an inspiring fashion spread on modern and minimal pieces.

That said, I've complied a pictorial review of some of the principles of minimalist dressing.  Look for pieces that are well designed with limited "extra stuff."  One of the best designers that continually achieves this is Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein.  He uses clean lines, basic shapes, and neutral colors to create a sophisticated, sharp look.
(L to R): Spring 2011, Spring 2011, Pre-Fall 2011, Pre-Fall 2011, and Pre-Fall 2011

When creating a minimal wardrobe, neutral colors help create timeless options.  They match themselves and each other seamlessly.  One way to look instantly pull together is with a monochromatic pallet of really nice pieces. 
(L to R): The Row, Donna Karan, The Row, Lyn Devon, and Jil Sander

(L to R): The Row, ADAM, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Donna Karan, and The Row

(L to R): Donna Karan, Doo.Ri, Rachel Roy, Derek Lam, and Derek Lam

This doesn't exclude colors either, both pastels and brights.  Many of the traditional minimalist designers showed hot pinks, oranges, and bright blues on the Spring 2011 RTW runways.

(L to R): Jil Sander, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Lyn Devon, Akris, and Jil Sander

By mixing neutral colored clean pieces, you can achieve a color blocked affect that is very modern looking.
(L to R): The Row, Lyn Devon, ADAM, Givenchy, and Jil Sander

Three things to keep in mind with a minimal look: (1) structure and draping; (2) texture; and (3) accessories.

I feel that minimalist pieces can be either structure or draped, though structured (see Calvin Klein) is more traditionally thought of as minimalist.  I think the key here is that the piece should be effortless and aren't "over designed" (read: embellishments on top of screen printing, on top of unnecessary seams/zippers/pockets, on top of a destructed look).

Next is texture.  Texture is a great way to keep a monochromatic outfit from looking dull.  Take a look again at the first color blocked image from The Row- a knit sweater over a silk shirt with leather pants.  Basic, yes.  Dull, no.

Finally, accessories.  Why would you take a beautiful, simplistic outfit and junk it up with costume jewelry?  Accessories should coordinate well with your outfit, but are still a great way to add personality.  Consider just earrings, a bracelet, or a statement ring (but not all three).

Inspiration for minimalist dressing is all around.  I like to look to architecture and interior design, and Dwell magazine and Design Within Reach are great resources.  So is the hilarious website, Unhappy Hipsters.

You can also find inspiration in the celebrity world.  There are a few celebrities that have developed a consistent style, and they show off the range of looks in minimalism.  Kate Bosworth has a sweet, pastel sense, while Angelina Jolie is more sex pot and Kate Lanphear is more rock and roll.  Gwyneth Paltrow, Claire Danes, and Audrey Hepburn are great sources, too.

Shopping for modern, minimal pieces is fairly easy if you use an editing eye.  Consider the color, look at how well it is made, and think about how many ways you can wear it.  No store is off limits, from Anthropologie to Theory.  Here's a selection of pieces currently in stores to get you started:
Monochromatic Black (L to R): Kate Spade Mirna Dress, Eileen Fisher Lace Trim Long Cami, Theory Biara Pants, Banana Republic Draped One-Shoulder Dress

Monochromatic Ivory (L to R): Theory Codey Top, Max Azria Cotton/Bemberg Twill Skirt, BCBG Draped Cowl Neck Dress, Eileen Fisher Classic Collar Long Shirt

Monochromatic Grey (L to R): Gap Asymmetrical T, Banana Republic Silk Betty Layered Dress, Banana Republic Gemma Wrap Dress, Ann Taylor Luxury Drape Wrap

Monochromatic Color (L to R): Anthropologie Irresistible Maxi Dress, J. Crew Hammered Silk Flambé Dress, RACHEL Rachel Roy Michelle Dress, Kate Spade Janelle Skirt

Coco Birdie

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Current Obsession: Book Clutches

Olympia Le-Tan and Kate Spade have recently released book inspired clutches, which I absolutely love.

Olympia Le-Tan makes the clutches out of fabric and the covers are embroidered. placed these whimsical clutches on their "future collectibles" list.   They have been carried on the red carpet by Clemence Poesy and Natalie Portman.  One was also spotted by fashion blog Jak & Jil at fashion week:

Kate Spade's books are made of printed fabric with a plastic overlay.  Her classic covers have modern graphics and her signature bright colors and fun linings.

The drawback to these fabulous book clutches?  Their price points: $1,245 for an Olympia Le-Tan and $325 for a Kate Spade.  I'm determined to figure out how to make one myself.

Penguin has released some beautiful hardcover copies of their classic books, like "Alice in Wonderland", "The Odyssey", and "Little Women", as well as classic children's books.  You can find them on Amazon or in some Anthropologie stores.  I've purchased the "Wuthering Heights" copy, seen above, with hopes of turning it into a clutch.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Coco Birdie

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Designer Profile: Kay Oss

 Before the holidays, I had the pleasure of attending a trunk show for a wonderful St. Louis label, Kay Oss.  The collection is carried in boutiques across the St. Louis metropolitan area, and is expanding to many other states.

My favorite piece is the reversible halter.  I love getting multiple options in one garment and this one is exceptional!  I purchased a gray and pink one, but there are many different color selections.  Pictured below is a hot pink version:

I also loved her sequin pieces, seen here is the top and skirt worn together for a seamless look:

Many of her pieces feature textural and visually interesting fabrics, such as the silver rosette skirt above.  There was also a really wonderful ruched leather skirt and some great patterns.  One of the other pieces I loved was the long gold pleated skirt, seen here with one of the brown reversible halters:

Check out her amazing stuff online, or in various local boutiques (including the designer's CWE studio, Edwardsville's "What To Wear", and Clayton's "Valarie Mills").  Kay Oss is also shown during St. Louis Fashion Week.

Coco Birdie

**Images via Facebook