Looking Good and Feeling Fine: Summer Fashion
Poof, pouf and pow — that’s the plan, fashionistas. Time to reclaim (from the jaws of the pandemic) your spirit, your style and, most definitely, your strut. Last year’s fashion shows reflected all things dark and gloomy. When even Burberry goes gothic, well, now that’s true horror heading down the runway. Enough already.
This season’s colors are choosing to be assertively happy. Showing up are new shades, starting with the softness of sage greens. Orange is here in its truest form, but is also stretching out in coral to terracotta tones. Its cousin yellow is sneaking in with quiet buttery tones followed by shades that are even stronger. There’s a bold new blue, too; Emese Boone, the owner of the Box Turtle in Little Rock, says it’s known as “Azul.” It is, as she notes, somewhat reminiscent of the classic blue which accentuates the stark whiteness of Greek architecture. Oh — the new girl in town? That would be lilac. It begs to be taken out and shown off.
Yes, celeb Chrissy Teigen (fresh off a social media exit) just announced her launch of a line of robes. But really, aren’t we all a bit bored with all this constant self-swaddling? Take your magic wands, go forth like mad wizards and poof, poof, poof those pajamas out of your every moment’s existence.
Don’t panic. No one is suggesting you dust off your full set of Spanx just yet. Time to wean though. Call it what you will — loungewear, athletic wear, (very) casual wear, sweatsuits, jogging outfits (you know what we mean). It’s time to elevate that look. Expect to see these pieces in new softer, silkier fabrics, often with smocking at wrists and ankles. You find these outfits sporting new details, too, such as zippers in new locations.
Jeans are creating the biggest buzz. Boone clarifies, “There are rumors going around that skinny jeans are out. They’re not.” Angela Strauss, a buyer for Barbara/Jean, agrees, noting that the new wider legs are simply offering flattering options for customers. What’s right for you? Strauss believes the best deciding factor is one’s body shape. The new “slim straight,” as she describes it, is working well for a lot of ladies. A crop flared jean is especially nice, she says, for balancing out a curvy figure. Some fashionistas will embrace the full flare shown in Victoria Beckham’s line. Boone points out that also being seen on the fashion horizon is a baggier leg, a comfy return to the 1980s.
While the legs are widening, the waistlines are moving uptown. High waists are showing up strong on jeans, pants and even shorts. Tucking in a top with these waistlines immediately gives you a put-together look while cinching in those COVID chubs. Petite girls and others with a shorter torso will find the mid-waist automatically gives a longer look. Those exceptionally flattering cargo pants? No, you didn’t lose weight, but who’s to know it’s just this season’s slightly wider leg? Neutral chinos are never wrong, but now you’ll see them amped up with camo, prints and florals.
Let’s talk topping this all off. Zoom meetings dictated looks that had to dress to impress from the waist up. Remember, we said to “pouf.” Well, fashion is taking it to the sleeve. As Strauss says, “Sleeves are such a statement thing right now.” There’s the sleeve that is poufy right below the shoulder line of blouses and jackets, then slims down. Other styles are showing a mid-sleeve pouf or a pouf at the wrist. Then there’s the pouf that goes all out. “The whole sleeve is poufy,” Boone says.
The collar is making its comeback and close-up. And that can be a real good thing. Strauss explains, “A collar is a flattering shape for most people.” In perhaps a nod to the plethora of romance period entertainment, many of the collars are also showing lots of detail — pleating, ruffled edges, intricate stitching. Not kicked to the curb, though, is the traditional collar that wears necklaces or pins well. “There’s also that cute stand-up collar,” she says, referring to a stand-up, ruffled collar that’s being seen around, including the linen-cotton version at Barbara/Jean.
Is the biggest style change ready for its Arkansas debut? “Definitely,” Strauss says. Boone agrees, “The shoulder pad just gives that balanced look to your waist.” While shoulder pads are easing us toward the more fitted look coming later in the year, they don’t have to and shouldn’t be limited to a dressed-up look. Nor do you have to go all out with this look. Yes, celebs such as Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid have been seen in full-on shoulder pads in opened box cut blazers which just graze the hem of their shorts. But even more often a slimmer shoulder pad is being seen in tops, especially sleeveless tees. They offer an easy, subtle way to polish your look, even your most casual of summer items and sets.
Did you catch that? “Sets.” Designers have made our weaning easier by matching tops and bottoms this year. “Garanimals,” Strauss laughs. Yes, tops matching bottoms in one shade. Works even in extreme brain fog; you can’t get this wrong. Life made easier for the fashion-challenged, the crazy busy and the road tripper.
Traveling is easier too with fashion’s new optical illusion. Actually matching tops and bottoms, these “dresses” are being found in silkier pieces and knits which have some body to them. Wear the “dress” today, and maybe that top tomorrow with those new jeans of yours. Strauss notes, “To me, you are getting a better option with these kinds of matching sets than you are with a dress.”
Don’t ignore though this year’s bona fide dresses which are also giving you lots of options. That t-shirt look, long or short, is like a chameleon, taking on new looks with different accessories. Boone points out the popularity of this year’s tiered dresses, which look great no matter the length. Lots of soft, light dresses are showing up too, with a range of vibes from boho to countryside. The fuller the dress, of course, the easier conversion to coverup — whether that’s beach, pool or pandemic pounds.
Whatever you chose to wear — tees and jeans, dresses, sets — the one accessory you are going to want to keep near and dear is your scarf. (And you’ll want to make that plural because they are truly the all-purpose accessory.) Don’t be afraid to take your scarves up and away from the neck. Scarves are a great hair or head wrap as well as a flirty addition to the hips. And for the belt-averse? Use a scarf instead to pop some color while keeping your outfit from looking undone. Don’t forget your hat, dear. Fedoras are showing their staying power as are the floppy straw hats. Don’t be surprised, though, to see hats in felt throughout this season.
Now that you’ve got your clothes on, let’s talk shoes. Already proving to be a favorite with her customers, Boone says, is the “pool shoe.” Think flip flops on a higher fashion dial; they’re a simple slide, usually with one or two straps, most of which are flaunting their own pouf, usually of a woven or leather material. One of Strauss’ favorites is the mule sandal with a blocked heel. The blocked or stacked heel, as it is sometimes called, is an easy way to “style up.”
COVID and Zoom brought challenges in the way of jewelry. Necklaces, especially chains, became a major accessory. Last fall’s chains are seeing new neighbors move in — colorful beaded necklaces are joining them, most often worn together. Masks initially forced a retreat to smaller earrings, but many of those problems are reaching our rear view mirror. We’re seeing our hoops returning, albeit “huggies.”
Boone explains, “They’re not just a hook. They have a connection in the back so you don’t have to worry about them coming off when your mask does. It has a hoop that goes front to back and holds on to your ear.” Sounds great for mamas, too.
Going online? Subtly, but notably, make your best Zoom statement with nothing less than the big guns, always a girl’s best friend. William Murphy Jones IV is a man who knows well the impact of diamonds. Vice president of operations for Sissy’s Log Cabin, the iconic Arkansas jewelry store, Jones is also family. This man has diamond dust in his DNA.
“Diamonds,” Jones IV says, “are impressive not just because they signify physical rarity but also rarity of accomplishment.”
Diamond studs can quietly be inserted into your business look, marking your worth. Try some yellow diamond studs with that soft yellow collared blouse — now that’s some serious “pow.” This season you’ll see the outfits hanging out with lots of other colored stones. Like, have you seen how fabulous lilac and tanzanite are together? (Pow, pow, pow … just saying.)
Adaptability in the time of a pandemic can work to your advantage in the realm of fine jewelry. Take engagement rings, for example. Jones explains that often couples, intending to upgrade later, will start with a carat or a carat and a half. Bereft of big weddings/receptions/honeymoons, these couples are now hot-footing straight to the multi-carat rings. Know, too, this is an opportunity to shift not just to a bigger carat but also to that more elaborate setting.
And while diamonds are most girls’ best friends, there will always be the bold bride unafraid to showcase her individuality. Who can forget Princess Diana’s magnificent blue sapphire encircled by diamonds, now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge? Other brides may make a sentimental statement by choosing to let their ring signify the month of the wedding. When are rubies or emeralds not stunning? Past the wedding? What a sweet anniversary present such a ring would make.
Sissy’s motto, “Life’s too short for ordinary jewelry,” is reason enough to celebrate your birthday by purchasing, creating or updating a piece with your birthstone (oh, heck ANY stone!). We tend to think of birthstones for mothers and grandmothers, but such an item is a great consolation for not being able to have that birthday trip. Besides, you can legitimately justify it as a heritage piece later.
Yes, we mentioned upgrading, and for good reason. Being able to do business in a pandemic has meant embracing technology in the best of ways. Sissy’s team is now using, among other things, photoshopping to show you how those customized or reset pieces can look. This expands the creative process for you and the team, making sure every detail is just as you want before commitment. Jones mentions that many of the new techniques have proved themselves to be permanent additions because of the value to the customer, especially in being able to see the stones better than it is possible with the naked eye.
Getting back to birthstones, we all know the “COVID babies” are coming. Babymoons might be closer to home or canceled, but baby mommas still deserve some pretty impressive pow as far as “push” presents go. Those studs, that ring, a little something for the wrist? Jones gifted his own wife an inscribed Rolex. Now that’s appreciation, ladies!
This pandemic has quite possibly given us a whole new appreciation for all the ways fashion lightens up our world and transforms how we feel about ourselves. You’ve proved you can kick the gloom and doom to the curb. You’ve poofed, poufed, and powed — all that is left to do is belt out the iconic West Side Story song, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty.” You look it too, girl.
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