February 3, 2009

'Boyfriend' Sweaters, Capelets and Piglets

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If you read my last column, which, unless you know me personally, is unlikely considering the incredibly un-alluring title it was given, you know I discussed various ways to stay warm and look good in the winter. Red Letter Daze’s fashion section that same week, by utter coincidence, also featured comments on winter dressing. So, you may wonder, is there more to say? Am I going to move on to greener pastures today? The answers are yes, and no respectively. This past Sunday’s near-heatwave temperatures (40 degrees, woo-hoo) notwithstanding, it is still very much winter here, and our pastures are all pretty white. So, this week, more on clothes for the current climate, including designer interpretations and some retail suggestions.
On the runway: Dries Van Noten, ruler of the fashion-model-as-pattern-and texture mix-tape, continued his penchant for mixing textures and patterns for this winter, this time pulling the look together with plainer over-layers, featuring tuxedo and tweed jackets, down vests and long sweaters, and adding one more splash of color with enormous necklaces made of, I believe, multi-color bangles strung on cord. Try it at home! This trend of statement necklaces is going to bring you through to this spring, summer and into next fall, so be on the look out for sculptural pieces, multi-strand bead necklaces and whatever else catches your fancy.
Thakoon also featured long cardigans, leaving his open and belting them and his more tailored jackets at the waist with thin belts. This is a great strategy for bringing in accent colors (or metallics, yes!) and defining silhouette. Similarly, you can belt an earlier layer, and leave your over-layer open as a frame.
Some of Carolina Herrera’s models rocked aviators with their wool capes, while others had shearling-lined vests and lovely tweed suits. Richard Chai, a relative new-comer on the scene (about four years), showed a low-key line with super long turtlenecks slouched at the hips and worn under shorter jackets, including some great leather, and the occasional sequin (hooray!). On a side note, there is now a lot of really great faux-leather, so you can get the look without sacrificing your ideals.
On your Radar: Forever 21 has an excellent range of sweaters in the $15-$45 range, including some terrific patterned sweater dresses and bright colors in various styles. Long cardigans sometimes known as “boyfriend sweaters”abound (for an interesting commentary on the use of “boyfriend” see Jane P. Riccobono’s article from Oct.11), and they are definitely on my infinitely useful and awesome list. A word of warning though — these cardigans’ very low and sometimes broad V necks can sometimes cut awkwardly across the chest. When trying these on, make sure you button them up in the store to see how they fit you.
Target, always a favorite with me, has some good layering turtlenecks for $10-$30, and generally has a good selection of belts and excellent jewelry. Last time I was in the store they had some amazing neon beaded necklaces. Thakoon, who I mentioned above, was one of Target’s Design for All designers, and his line for them is now on sale online and in stores, featuring some gorgeous abstract print dresses and skirts perfect for layering. Isaac Mizrachi for Target has cashmere turtlenecks for $25, and a cashmere capelet I have been day dreaming about for the last half hour, for $59. (A capelet is a small cape, just as a piglet is a little pig, is usually hip-length, has slits for your arms to go through, and is totally freakin’ awesome if a little impractical.)
Express’s cashmere runs a pretty reasonable $40-$100, but their cottons and blends are even more affordable, my favorites being a light grey funnel-neck with an array of cables in different directions, and “flyaway” cardigans ($19.50), long, fasten-less knit sweaters, both long-sleeve and sleeveless, in fabulous, bright colors (bright pink!), perfect for layering over jeans and a turtleneck or a print dress/skirt.
In a completely different price range, J. Crew prides itself on its cashmere collection, so check them out — they have the widest selection of silhouettes and colors I’ve seen. Oddly enough, they show them mostly with shorts and light pants, which is curious because if it is warm enough to wear shorts, cashmere would make you sweat buckets, but marketing will be marketing. Their merino wool collection is equally varied and runs from about $80- $150 while their cashmere is $100-$300. Is it worth it? Possibly, but only if you take good care of them — moths LOVE wool and cashmere, and they will show you where they munched on your sweaters with big, difficult to mend holes.
Stay warm, happy, and gorgeous, and I’ll see you in two weeks.