April 21, 2009

Thrifty Spring Fashion Grab Bag

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As this is my last column for this year, (sad face), in lieu of a single theme I am going to open my Mary Poppins-bag of fashion tips and tricks to get you through the rest of the semester and get you excited/ready for the summer with the clothes you already own.
1. Clean your closet. As winter comes to a close, think: what didn’t you wear the entire season? Take it out and put it aside to give to a friend or to donate. When you’re getting out your spring/summer clothes, do the same — what didn’t you wear at all before you put it away? Look through and if there’s something you get excited about, something you see as having new possibilities — keep that. Otherwise get rid of it. Don’t be too too hasty though; I still have the long, boxy suit jacket from my Bat Mitzvah suit, and it’s my new favorite for Spring (see my last column on spring jackets.)
When you’re taking things out of boxes/drawers that haven’t been open in awhile, they might smell a little funny; lay things out on your bed and open your window on a nice, breezy day. If it’s very sunny, keep your blinds closed or things will get bleached out!
2. Revamp your bottoms. Full bottoms, both pants and mid-length cuffed shorts were all over the runway. To achieve this look, you can cuff or tight-roll Bermuda shorts, longer basketball shorts and even shorter yoga pants. With long yoga pants and gaucho pants, you can narrow the bottom by separating the leg so some fabric is in each hand, and tie it in a knot. You can do this at the ankle or a little bit higher. Credit for this cleverness goes to Virginia Cromwell.
And don’t forget those tight-rolled jeans. I have been tight-rolling my high-waisted trouser-style jeans and I LOVE IT. They were one of the first things I wore when it got warm-ish.
3. Keep playing with scarves! (Yes, the exclamation point is necessary.) Morgan Miller’s scarf trick for rectangular scarves: tie the diagonally opposite ends of the scarf together, drape around neck so one of the short sides and part of the long side forms a triangle, loop the rest around twice, pull to adjust. If you’re awesome, and it’s long enough, you can take it off as a whole and put it back on perfectly formed.
4. Keep playing with scarves continued: How to use scarves as Obi (wide) belts. Can be done over T-shirts, button-downs, light cardigans, jackets and dresses. With American Apparel/H&M cotton jersey knit long scarves: They can be wrapped and tucked in, with a brooch over it (or more than one) or with a slim ribbon/chord wrapped around and tied in a bow or a knot with the ends hanging down. Or, tie the scarf in front in a bow. The bow is best on one side or the other; wearing it directly over your belly button makes you look a bit like a present, and as delightful as I’m sure you are, you don’t necessarily want to look like you’re on the way to a birthday party (unless you’re wearing the Sunday color comics, cause that’d be pretty sweet). I like this especially over a T-shirt with a design/logo because of the juxtaposition of sweet and everyday.
Remember that you need to breathe, so if there’s a scarf you want to use, you’ll have to choose a tying style that gives you enough room, and vice-versa, if there’s a style you want, you need to use a scarf that’s long enough.
5. Turn a long, elastic waist skirt into a strapless dress. Just pull it all the way up to above your breasts. You can belt it, or, my favorite, leave it as a tent-dress with a chunky/substantial necklace. You can also layer over a shirt and belt it. If the skirt’s patterned, try a plain color or a subtle pattern, if the skirt’s plain, try a patterned shirt. Crew necks work the best in my experience.
6. Utilize your forgotten jewelry. Tiffany just came out with a series of key pendants, many of which are over $1000. Or, round up your unused keys (to old houses, luggage locks, fourth-grade diaries), snag some at an antique store (~$1-$10) and hang it on a long necklace. You can use multiple keys, or hang other charms or single earrings on the chain as well.
Place brooches around the neckline of a V- or boat-neck shirt, or put a cluster on one shoulder. Single post earrings work for this too, though you may want to trim the posts so they don’t poke you. Always be careful of the material of course — be wary of pins with any fabric that snags or is not a knit.
7. Treat your feet (and body) well. A lot of people will start (or have already started) sporting flip-flops pretty soon. This is a personal choice, but listen to your feet and be nice to them — most flip flops have no arch support and also cause you to shuffle, both of which can put weird stresses on your feet and bones all the way up to your back. Think about a pair of Birkenstocks, Chocos, Tevas or other sport/comfort shoes. A lot of companies have come out with really beautiful, good-for-you designs, so take advantage of them. This doesn’t mean you can never wear your flip flops, or your gladiators with the paper-thin sole, but if you’ll be out and about for a long time, like at a museum or touring a city, think about shoes that’ll make your feet happy.
8. Sit up straight and use good posture. It looks better, it’s a great toning exercise, it makes your back feel better and it burns calories. Think about engaging your lower abs to support your back, and bringing your shoulder blades together to help minimize neck/shoulder aches. Every single piece of clothing looks better when you are standing up straight and being mindful of your abdominal muscles, I promise.
I hope this has been a helpful column — I have enjoyed being your fashion correspondent and I am very excited for next year’s column; two of my goals are to talk about “green” fashion and what it entails, and to have more coverage for those men around campus excellent enough to read this column. I wish everyone best of luck on end-of-term craziness, a great summer and happy dressing!