Last Article for My Hot Seams Fashion Column

It was bittersweet, but I’m slowly adjusting to life without a column to share my opinions and observations with my peers. I started the Hot Seams fashion column in 2008 with no professional experience in writing/journalism. Now, after four years, I’ve learned so much about myself and the industry, met some really amazing and inspiring people and critiqued some “out-there” fashion designs. People didn’t always agree with what I had to say, but that didn’t matter to me. I was more concerned with sharing information and making fashion a topic of discussion at my very academic research-based university.

Deconstructing Armour 

[1]courtesy of armour. magazine

It’s certainly not as thick as a Vogue or an Elle, but it doesn’t need to be. A very admirable endeavor, Armour, a new fashion magazine started by three Sam Fox School students, Jacob Lenard, Chantal Strasburger and Felicia Podberesky, launched last week in an effort to bring fashion and style to the Wash. U. community. Featuring bold glossy photographs and topics ranging from the origin of the bow tie to vintage Wash. U. fashion, this magazine is a fun little read, surely to be accessible to students of all styles and tastes.

There are a few critiques I noted while first reading the magazine. I was a little thrown off by the piece on the 1961 Wash. U. homecoming queen. The article details the criteria for earning the title, categories such as attire, athletics, teeth and poise. I wasn’t sure how much of this was fact or fiction. If the article was intended as a humor piece, perhaps it should have been placed at the end of the magazine. Additionally, though the beauty piece focused mainly on technique, I wish it provided a few brands that students could use to implement the various steps outlined to achieve a metallic smoky eye, especially because it is so easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of products and brands available in stores. Ultimately, I felt the spring issue of the magazine lacked a strong, overarching theme. Although the individual sections alone were fun and easy to read, I didn’t get a sense of consistency in the topics covered throughout Armour. Overall, the magazine left me wanting more.

However, there were many enticing aspects of the magazine as well. My favorite thing about Armour is its accessible tone. The articles sound like casual conversations with my friends rather than an imposing Anna Wintour looking down upon me for wearing jeans again. The Everyday Runway section was a great touch, as it encouraged students to make runway styles their own. I also enjoyed the photography and the fact that student models were both featured and named. Even if you don’t care about fashion, you’ll definitely be entertained and educated by reading Armour. You may even learn something new about some of the students you pass by everyday. If you couldn’t get a copy of the magazine, check out the blog: armourmag.blogspot.com.

Stay Stylish!

Latest Fashion Article: Men’s Spring 2012 Trends

Most men I know don’t like to think about fashion, and they just buy whatever pleases them. As the weather changes, most of you will want to (or need to) replace the heavy boots, layers and thick sweatshirts with light cotton pants and shirts and sneakers. But you’ve got to do it right. This is your simplified guide—organized from most to least audacious—to looking sharp and impressing your friends this season.

Gant by Michael Bastian

Mixed prints
Some would consider this daring trend a faux pas. Mixing prints can be done in a non-comical way, however. GANT by Michael Bastian showed that certain patterns, such as plaids and stripes, can in fact work together. One hint for successfully pulling off this look is to keep one print bold and the other light.

Get shorty
This season, if designers have their way, men’s shorts will be short. Really short. GANT Rugger showcased not only short shorts, but also cropped pants for men. While these trends aren’t novel, they were very prevalent, especially on international runways. When it comes to wearing this trend, socks can range from mid-calf to barely there. I would recommend no socks for those who wish to don this trend.

Color statement
Bored with wearing blacks, grays and browns? Great, because this spring is all about bold, vivid colors. Ports 1961, among other labels, placed a big emphasis on white, especially in trouser form. Mango orange, cerulean blues and navy were common colors paired with white. The color blocking trend found on women’s runways has made its way to men’s runways and soon to plenty of stores. The goal isn’t to look like a box of Crayola crayons, but to wear multiple complimentary colors simultaneously. They need not all be vibrant; instead, pair neutral colors with a bold color this spring to update your look.

Band of Outsiders

Sporty
Even if you’re not in the best shape of your life, this trend is one that just about everyone can pull off. Band of Outsiders and other brands featured athletic-inspired varsity jackets, mesh and drawstrings and lots of horizontal stripes on their spring runways. Be cautious when taking on this trend to avoid appearing like an extra for “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Instead of piling on every athletic thing in your closet, take a less literal approach to the trend and wear a charcoal gray jacket made of nylon or a hoodie in a bright color with an otherwise normal outfit.

The Southern gentleman
This trend may not appeal to everyone, however it is a nice one to take advantage of since ladies will perhaps find you more charming. The key pieces you’ll need to look like the ultimate Southern gentleman are seersucker and Sperry Top-Siders. There’s no need to rush and purchase a full seersucker suit. Rather, buy a piece, like a blazer, and incorporate it into your wardrobe.

Throw a blazer on it
Heading to class, a date in Forest Park or an art museum? Throw on a blazer. GANT Rugger placed blazers on a wide variety of outfits, from shorts to jeans to linen pants. They not only make you appear more put together, but they also keep you from looking boring and uninteresting.

The shoe game
If you don’t try anything new this season, be sure to upgrade your footwear to keep in line with the latest trends. Suede desert boots, bright sneakers and walnut-brown oxfords (with colorful laces for the avant-garde dresser) are three very popular footwear options that work for a variety of tastes and styles.

Latest Fashion Article: Fashion and Beauty Trends You Don’t Want to be Caught Without!

Sure, it snowed last week and it’s freezing outside and the first thing on your mind is a thick woolen scarf. Still, any true fashionista knows that it’s never too early to start planning your wardrobe for the next season. Winter should be over in two months at most, which gives us enough time to review, shop and accessorize! Consider this your review from the runways around the world.

Color blocking
Design houses such as Luca Luca remind us that this hot trend is back for yet another spring. One benefit of this blocking is that it’s not just for bold colors; color blocking can also be achieved with pastels and neutral tones. People with broad shoulders should refrain from wearing blouses in which the top half of the blouse is a different color than the bottom half. This draws the eye to the shoulder area, emphasizing the problem. Also, colors need not be placed in literal blocks on a garment. Rather, they can be placed strategically to emphasize your assets and deemphasize other areas.

A piece in tangerine
Pantone’s color of the year, tangerine, is bright, bold and playful. Of course if you find the hue overwhelming, purchase a small accessory and don it as an accent piece to a neutral outfit. Nudes and creams, white, black and plum are a few accent colors to pair with the hue this spring.

Femme peplum
If you’re in search of a silhouette that enhances your curves while keeping you chic and classy, the peplum is the trend for you! A peplum is a short, flared layer of ruffles attached at the waist that can be found in stores on dresses, shirts, jackets and skirts. As Dries van Noten showed, the flare of the peplum can be contrasted with sharp shoulders to create the overall hourglass effect. Also remember to keep the bottom half of your look slim to counter the flare at the waist.

Asymmetrical necklines and hemlines
Proper and neat is boring. When out shopping, look for tops with cutouts in the straps a la Zero + Maria Cornejo or necklines that are cut lower on the right or left side of the garment. As for hemlines, take a note from this spring’s BCBG Max Azria collection and search for light, flowing dresses with interesting long/short hemlines. Afraid that the front of your dress might look like it got caught in a shredder? Nicholas K showed that a monochromatic outfit can minimize the shredder effect while appearing effortless.

Get sporty
You don’t have to be a star athlete to try this spring trend. Rather, search for athletic-inspired pieces such as sleeveless tops and zippers in neon colors, nylon bags, jumpsuits with cinched-in waists, contrasting piping and bold stripes, and chevron prints. Rag & Bone even added drawstrings to blouses and bottoms. I’ve noticed that this trend tends to resurface around springtime, perhaps the time of year when many are hoping to change their habits and be more active.

Strappy black sandals
Both thick strappy sandals and minimalist sandals with a thin toe strap covered the runways of several collections for this season. If you don’t have a pair of strappy black sandals that fit your personal style, I suggest you get some ASAP!

Beauty simplified
Numerous designers including the design teams at Carven, Dries van Noten, BCBG and Diane von Furstenberg coiffed models with sleek pulled-back styles to let the clothes speak for themselves. Their models also wore soft nude and blush lipsticks, a combination suggesting youth and sophistication. Consider keeping your beauty routine simple this season for maximum impact from your outfits.

-Stay Stylish!

G

Most Recent Fashion Article: Top Sweaters for Surviving the Holidays

Ladies

The sweater dress
Sweater dresses are a great way to show off your shape without sacrificing warmth. The silhouettes for this sweater tend to fall into one of two categories: slim or loose-fitting. Whichever shape you prefer, be sure to balance your bottom half by wearing wool tights and boots underneath. This is the perfect sweater to wear to dinner or when shopping with friends.

The oversized cardigan sweater
The holidays don’t always motivate us to get dressed up and go outside. If you find yourself indoors on a lazy day, an oversized cardigan is great for cozying up with an interesting novel or opening presents with your family. For some, the volume of this type of sweater can be overwhelming; try belting the cardigan to yield a more hourglass figure.

Gentlemen

The turtleneck
Believe it or not, men, turtlenecks are in style this season. But not all turtlenecks are made equally. Thinner turtlenecks tend to flatter mesomorphs, while cable-knit turtlenecks work for everyone else. So know your type and purchase accordingly. Not only is this sweater in style this season, but it also works for many occasions: meeting her parents, going shopping with yours and enjoying a wonderful family meal.

The “Let’s do a family activity” Sweater
You always want to look your best in front of relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. This year, why not impress them with something form-fitting and different? Wool shawl-collar sweaters are great for family activities since they provide warmth to your neck, in case you find yourself outdoors, and they are great for layering since you can wear your favorite plaid button-down shirt underneath it without appearing disheveled.

Everyone

The ugly Christmas sweater
No matter your religious affiliation, ugly Christmas sweater parties have been popular for a while now, and this year, you might just find an invitation to one at your door. To ensure you’re fully prepared, you’ll need two things. 1. An image of a sweater from the 80’s or 90’s that you may have received from relatives as a young child and 2. A trip to your favorite vintage store. The purpose of this sweater isn’t to display how much time you spent in the gym earlier this year; rather, it’s a way to bond with others of similar humor, so be playful.

The Fair Isle sweater
This classic winter style, which originated in Northern Scotland, is perfect for anyone hoping to hit the slopes this winter break. These wool tops tend to come in a variety of colors and are decorated with snowflakes, stars and other fun winter motifs.

The “Oops I over-ate” sweater
It happens. And when it does, life moves on, however slowly. For men, the best anecdote to this common holiday condition is to consider purchasing any of the sweaters above in a much larger size or buy a cable-knit wool cardigan. For ladies, a loose-fitting tunic-length style in a dark color just might do the trick.

-Stay Stylish!

Latest Article: Fashion Show Review for St. Louis Fashion Week

Blue mood lights and upbeat music set the tone as this year’s St. Louis Fashion Week kicked off with a lively event. The seventh annual Project:Design! show, sponsored by Brown Shoe Company and ALIVE Magazine, attracted a fashion-hungry crowd of locals eager to see what St. Louis’ hottest fashion talent has to offer.

The Project:Design! competition has been instrumental in launching the careers of many, including three former and current contestants on the hit reality show, Project Runway. In her signature soft-spoken manner, Laura Kathleen—Project Runway season nine contestant and graduate of Western Kentucky University with a degree in design, merchandising and textiles—co-hosted the event in a packed warehouse in Soulard.

The competition began online with hundreds of local designers competing to display their creations at St. Louis Fashion Week. Ultimately, six hopeful designers received the most votes online and Kelley Miller, Stephen Curd, Caroline Williard, Sierra Moses, Cindy Brown and Brittany M. Davidson sent models down the runway as the designers battled it out to be crowned St. Louis’ hottest up and coming designer. With various dreams, goals and ambitions in mind, some of the designers, including Cindy Brown, who spent a year studying at Washington University, put everything they had into their collections and hope to design full time in the near future.

Though the pinnacle of the competition lasted for roughly an hour, the crowning of the top designer would change the course of the winner’s career. The winner left the night with support to help launch his or her line, a small drop of fame and a golden dress form.

The show itself featured many unique trends and demonstrated the notion that St. Louis’ fall fashion spans a wide range of styles, from powerful Asian influences to the romanticism of the flower child. I personally had two favorites but agree with the judges’ choice of Stephen Curd as winner of the grand prize, as I found his collection to be the most visually interesting.

Kelley Miller from St. Louis, Mo., brought the softness and delicacy of the ’70s flower child to open Tuesday night’s runway show. The models, styled with poufy bedroom hair, strutted, wearing lace pants, maxi skirts and hot pants representative of the designer’s design style, which is inspired by photography from that era. The maroons, whites and golden rust colors presented in her collection are excellent for fashionable St. Louisans to don this season.

Brittany M. Davidson from Overland Park, Kan., experimented with combining textures in an unusual way to create a soft-yet-hard effect. Leather and chiffon, stiff satin and delicate flower petals and numerous feathered headpieces covered the runway during this segment. Generally speaking, the cohesive collection was very feminine without being too girly. Through her fabric choices, Davidson also showed locals ways to wear voguish animal prints without being so obvious.

Stephen Curd, the 2011 winner of Project:Design! competition, was the only designer to feature both male and female models. He brought variety with his collection and conveyed a diverse point of view with influences ranging from the ’90s to a British schoolboy to the KFC Colonel’s tie. In addition to his success here in St. Louis, Curd has also been invited to show the collection next week at Chicago Fashion Week and, in a recent interview with the Riverfront Times, sums the whole experience well by stating, “We’re all different designers. I just know who I am and what I like, so that’s what I try to bring in to every collection I do.”

The biggest trends for women this season: what they are and how to style them

From time to time a new trend appears, but it is more common for old trends to return. Layering and wearing leather jackets and shades of brown have always been associated with fall fashion. Spring 2011’s shift toward the 1940s femme and the 1970s bohemian have persisted into the colder parts of the year, as designers turn to these two powerful decades of fashion. Here are the most talked about trends coming our way this season, from outerwear to accessories:

Outerwear

Capes and ponchos
Pea coats are nice but a tad stale. This season, take inspiration from Sherlock Holmes when choosing a fall coat. Capes and ponchos in tartan, patchwork and solid colors were hot both on runways and store racks. This style of outerwear is easy to throw on and can be worn in both formal and informal settings, depending on what’s underneath. For a more formal look, pair a cape with a pencil skirt, ribbed stockings and ankle boots, keeping the bottom half of your outfit slim and sleek. For a more casual look, pair a cape with skinny jeans or riding pants and add flat boots or an ankle boot.

Apparel

Lady-like tweed in new colors
Alice + Olivia showed tweed skirts, blazers and overcoats in shades of red, pink, black and, of course, white. The trick to making tweed not seem dated or too “old-lady” is to mix it in with looser-fitting fabrics or unexpected materials. Pair a loose-fitting blouse with a structured tweed skirt to make the look more modern. Or wear skinny jeans with your fitted tweed blazer to make the effect more age-appropriate.

Leather in unexpected places
While we’re all familiar with leather jackets and small accessories, this season, designers have created novel ways for fashionistas to don the edgy material. Acne even dared to design leather overalls. If you’re considering this trend, start with a mod leather mini skirt in a classic color like camel or black. Vince and Rachel Comey created skirts in an A-line silhouette, which flatters a majority of body types. Unfortunately, many retailers charge at least three figures for a few strips of cloth. Check out vintage and thrift stores for the best bargain. Once you’ve found your skirt, add a thick sweater and ankle boots and you’re set for the day.

In the jungle
Snakeskin skirts, leopard print clutches, fur vests and feathery collars all populated fall’s runways. Elie Tahari surprised everyone with a snakeskin skirt. For the average college student, however, these wild pieces may be too “out there” to be worn to class. To make these prints more accessible, perhaps use the colors found in nature as a guide for creating a cohesive outfit. Peacock feathers, for example, contain shades of blue, green, brown and black. Create a look using like-colored pieces you already own to enjoy the trend. If you’re ready for a full-on print, consider making that print your accent item and keeping the remainder of your outfit neutral. The fact that leopard print is in doesn’t justify looking like a leopard.

Corduroy 2.0
Designers have updated this classic material for a sleeker silhouette when used for skinny pants or flared pants. J Brand, a popular denim label, offers both options for its clients and for the more price sensitive, check out J.Crew or Kut from the Cloth, a brand sold at Nordstrom. When selecting colors, keep in mind the shoes and coats you plan to wear with your slim pants. If you purchased a new camel coat, don’t pair it with your camel-colored corduroys, unless you’re confident enough to pull off the monochromatic look.

Footwear and accessories

The wedge
One trend continuing on from spring and summer is the wedge, now styled on the soles of many oxfords and ankle boots. Though the wedge is not for everyone, the great thing about this heel is that it is not only highly versatile, but it also provides stability and instant height.

Boxy handbags
Gone are the days of the slouchy boho bag, for now. Following the femme trends of the 1940s, this year’s “it” bag is stiff and structured. For a romantic look, pair this bag with a wispy floor-length skirt and ankle boots. Or wear a structured bag with a pencil skirt for a more classic ensemble. Jil Sander and other designers created boxy bags in a variety of colors and textures. Feel free to experiment with this classic.

Long leather gloves
A few seasons ago, short motorcycle gloves were all the rage. Everyone from celebrities to fashion models wore them. This season, however, gloves are foraying into longer, more feminine lengths. If you’re looking for an edgy way to pull off this trend, look for long gloves in surprising colors; white was Elie Tahari’s choice for fall. Consider wearing these gloves with coat styles ranging from capes during the fall to floor length dusters in the winter.

-Stay stylish and get shopping!

(all photos from style.com)

First Hot Seams Article of the Semester: Preparing for Fall’s Great Fashion Hunt

The temperature’s dropping, and we’re finally settling in and getting back into academic mode. But is your closet ready for all the events, parties, concerts and classes you’ll be attending this semester? Before registering for classes, you probably consulted your friends, former professors, academic advisors and the annual course handbook. Why not take a similar approach to getting your wardrobe ready for the semester? No, what you buy for the fall is not a life-or-death situation, but it is important to prepare properly in order to do it well. 

PURGE BEFORE SPLURGE  

First, assess what’s currently in your closet and organize your clothes into three piles: one for items to save, one for items to donate and one for items to store for a different season. If the item seems dated, try selling it to local consignment stores such as Avalon Exchange. Try on everything as well. Determine what needs tailoring and what will never fit. The last thing you want to do is purchase 10 pairs of jeans when you only have two good tops or wear clothes that don’t fit you properly.

LIST IT OUT  

Once you’ve assessed your current items, write down a general list of needs vs. wants. Magazines and window-shopping tend to aid in this process. Include on the list items that need replacing or have been absent from your closet for some time, such as a sturdy black belt or a nice interview jacket.

PLAN AND PRIORITIZE  

Like everything else in life, you can’t always get what you want. Either time or money or both will be constraints as you head to the Galleria or West County Mall. After making your list, determine how much you want to spend and how you will acquire the funds for your fall wardrobe. Do you need to create a savings plan or will one check from home be enough? Keep that number as locked as possible and save whenever you can. In fact, tax is lower at the Galleria than at West County, but the variety of stores also differs. Don’t forget about 15 percent-off student discounts at stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic!

Now that you have your list and know how much you want to spend, determine which items are essential and which are not. Remember that needs vs. wants list? A strong book bag should take priority over another swimsuit, even though swimwear goes on sale in the fall, especially since we’re land-locked.

COMPARE  

One thing I do is try things on in stores and shop around for good bargains online. If any flash sale sites such as Gilt.com or myhabit.com feature any designers I like, I’ll be able to make my purchase with confidence, knowing that the item should fit well and won’t have to be returned. Also, some middle-market retailers “imitate” the styles and trends set by higher-end designers and make them more accessible to the masses. Did you fall in love with the bold color blocking and graphic stripes streaming down Prada’s Spring 2011 runway? Spanish retailer Zara (with its closest store located in Chicago) sells clothing resembling those trends.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT 

Once you buy new items, try integrating them into your closet by having a mini fashion show or playing dress up. It sounds silly, but when you’re rushing to get to class on time or get invited to a random dinner with your floormates, you’ll always look effortless and chic.