Friday, January 05, 2007

Embellished minimalism

There's a battle raging deep within my brain's style-center: My inner minimalist is at war with my inner embellishist.

One part of me loves the pretty, the lacy, the frilly, the joujed, beautiful hand-work and details that raise clothing--or anything that has been designed or crafted in some way--above the mediocre. But ultimately, aren't we more comfortable in simple, well-tailored, easy-to-wear clothing?

So thank God for 60s-style embellished minimalism, which was all over the spring runways. Now it will be easier than ever to find a comfortable but pretty little number into which to slip one's work-weary self.

But first, a cautionary note. Hearken back, if you dare, to the embellishment craze of 1999ish. Remember when every inch of every thread of every item you wanted to buy had a bead or embroidery floss or some kind of applique attached to it?

I strongly dislike that look, mostly because people almost always over-do it. **

**To expand:
I strongly disliked that whole phase of fashion not just because people over-did it, which they did and which led to ridiculous combinations reminiscent of dazzle camouflage, but also because cheap (as in inexpensive) embellishment came to replace quality tailoring, skilled cutting, etc. The embellishment itself might be well done, but if it comes at the expense of beautifully made clothing, what's the point?

Also, I don't want my clothes to be the style-maker: that's my job. We should be the most interesting embellishment of everything we wear.

Yep, every few years, the rippling wave-forms of fashion vibrate back to this 'busy' look. Swarovski crystals become hip, Madonna's gluing diamonds to her eyelashes, the big clothing retailers realize they can get cheap embroidery labour in Asia. I don't know what's behind it, but fashion always goes to that place.

And then, comfortingly, it all loosens up a little and the dial switches back to simplicity, chicness, comfort.

We're in one of those shifts. The shift back to shifts, in fact. Lightly, creatively, novelly embellished little dresses like the ones in this post. And what excites a vintage stylaholic like me is that you can get your paws on this look for much less than the mortgage-backed price of haute couture: it's all available in vintage, baby. If you like the "new" embellished look on the runways, look to the 60s; especially 60s evening wear.

Take this number from popular 60s design house, Pucci. Sure, it's completely encrusted in silver sparkly bits. But the simple cut, looser fit, and the way it's paired with light, casual accessories meets all comfort/simplicity requirements. And yet it's still pretty sexy.

BUT does the model above look like she's having as much fun as this spiffy little lady? I think not. Silver lame 60s dresses are everywhere in Internet land and in vintage shops...get one and you'll be jiving like Sassy McSmileson over here.

OR sex up the lamé look with this authentic 60s sex-kitten tunic, (an eBay find) which you could wear with skinny jeans or on its own. Hell, why not skip bottoms altogether and get all "Celebrity Exposure" on the world? It's what all the hip kids are doing.

I thought this Frankie Morello number was really cool. What's especially interesting is the use of broken mirror pieces as jewels. Now that's a fresh take on embellishment.

But you don't have to settle for Institutional Green (the only thing I'm not loving about the dress above) when you can have kelly green, satin, and lovely beading with this piece, which is for sale on eBay. Again...wear with pants for a more casual look or pair it with cool little heels--maybe in cerise or sunshine yellow for a fun contrast.

Here's a detail of the neckline embroidery.

(P.S. What's with the nifty mannequin? Is it just me or does that gal have a-ti-tude? Also, I dislike being jealous of a fake person's hair...)

Isn't this Victor&Rolf dress fab? Now strictly speaking, it's more 70s than 60s, but what the's a modern, vibey take on retro ideas (the 70s stars, belted waist, svelte silhouette).

Sweater dresses were quite popular in the 70s, and it's easy to find one with some interesting design or embellishment. This one from Posh Girl is supercool; unfortunately, it has been sold (sniff). But don't fret--there are lots of these out there. I snatch them up whenever I can find them; they are flattering and classic.

Ah, we arrive at the embellished skirt. I don't normally like too much detail down there, but this one by Ferragamo is quite pretty. However, take away those slammin' yellow shoes and this outfit loses some of its sizzle. As it is here, however, it really works.

This lovely seafoam green dress from Posh Girl comes with a pretty embroidered cape. Same kind of idea as above, but authentic vintage.

I'm throwing in this Hussein Chalayan dress because I adore these airy little shifts he's done. The chances of me or anyone I know donning a jewel-encrusted onesie with a chiffon topper are fairly slim, but let's take a moment to appreciate the beautiful mix of textures, proportions, and details in this look which is one of the first truly "new" things I've seen in a while. She looks quite goddess-like, no? And yet...very comfortable.


At 4:44 PM , Blogger kim. said...

That gold tunic is TO DIE FOR....I keep going back to get another look. I own nothing that cool.

At 10:57 AM , Blogger whyioughtta said...

eBay, Kim...eBay!

p.s. You always look extremely cool to me!

At 4:55 PM , Blogger kim. said...

You are far too kind..really. I never think of looking for clothes on Ebay probably because I like to try things on before I buy. I guess I should get over that.


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