Necklaces for spice

28th Oct
Have you noticed how a necklace can bring an outfit up several notches, from cool to hot? Have you wondered how to get that effect? I have to confess that I frequently wear staple necklaces (gold chain with a gemstone pendant or single strand of pearls) to avoid a plain neckline. This is all good and well, but there are necklaces which do so much more. Check out the muses below for great ideas on boosting a look with this awesome accessory. The outfit pictured below shows the perfect topper for this casual butterfly dress: a silver necklace with enamel-like butterfly pendant in blues and greys. With this interesting pendant, I would say that aside from smallish stud earrings and maybe a watch or low key bracelet, no other jewelry is required. In fact, it is preferable that additional accessories be kept to a minimum. The woman pictured here (above) did, in fact, wear lovely large abalone shell drop earrings which in my opinion, made it look a little too busy; a smaller abalone stud would not have detracted as much from the play between dress and pendant. My colleague Alyssa designs and creates her own jewelry. This dark orange double strand of glass beads featured below adds the perfect flair to attire in the black to white spectrum. The accent draws your eye upward to her face and adds just the right amount of spice. Since Alyssa is petite, shorter and/or more delicate necklaces (this one is a choker length) are more proportionate to her small frame. Pictured below is another necklace by Alyssa which once again adds a pop of color to her otherwise subdued grey and black outfit. The V shape of the statement necklace creates more of a flattering, slimming effect than the rounded neckline of her top. It also echoes the shape of her jawline. As you could see with the previous necklace, this one draws attention to her stunning smile. Janet wore this amazing citrine necklace (pictured below) with gold dragonfly pendant to a season opening concert of the symphony. It was purchased on Hvar Island (Croatia) where all the necklaces by this designer show the signature dragonfly icon. Similarly to Alyssa, Janet is petite in stature, and so, a longer necklace might be out of proportion for her. The length of this one seems to be somewhere between "princess" (18") and "matinee" (20"), which allow it to rest on the black background of her LBD (little black dress) for added contrast. Brilliant citrine beads draw attention to her beautiful golden locks. And she tastefully avoids loading on other accessories. The gold zippers on her dress and thin belt with metallic buckle are just enough detail for a well coordinated look without competing with her splendid neckwear. The muse below is wearing another stunning necklace. The neckwear perfectly compliments her exotic satiny dress with gold colored embroidery and lace detail. The dress almost looks like a cross between a La Perla slip and out-to-dinner dress, but she cleverly makes it day-worthy by adding a white blazer. The necklace of black stones set in the center of hammered gold plates causes a dimmer effect than polished gold and matches the non-shiny gold colored details in her dress. The shape of the necklace also echoes the shape of the embroidery at the neckline of the dress. This muse demonstrates successful layering of necklaces, which is not an easy feat. Just above the aforementioned piece is a more delicate, shorter necklace of black and muted gold beads. (It generally works better to have the larger/chunkier necklace on the bottom.) The shorter necklace is very helpful here, as it - along with the large shiny gold stud earrings - draws the eye from all the gorgeous detail in the lower necklace and dress upward to her face. A rich ensemble such as the one featured above, by the way, calls for a shoe with some detail; in this case, the peep toe sandal is matte with a shinier outline and shiny interlacing t-straps. I love the play on opposites: shiny (satiny/silky dress, polished gold earrings and shiny shoe details) versus matte (dulled gold jewelry). There is also an interesting balance between day and evening wear. The photo above illustrates how one can get overloaded with accessories. A general rule of thumb is to limit oneself to three accessories, although when they are big and showy such as this belt, large two-toned tote bag, dangly butterfly earrings or oversized watch, I would say that just one or two are sufficient (maybe with another one or two smaller pieces of jewelry). Otherwise we tread dangerously close to garish. The layering of necklaces was also less than successful here, especially considering the one which slipped into her cleavage - oops! Seriously, less can be better. A longer necklace pictured above was pieced together and worn by my colleague Ester, who combines the opposite colors, blue and orange for a visually appealing palette. Complimentary dark red beads are made of young (not yet crystallized) amber she purchased in Madura, Indonesia. The silver beads were handmade in Bali, and the blue and orange flower pendant, representing a Buddhist symbol, was made by Tibetan monks. The piece has personal meaning for the wearer, and from the outside, it can be appreciated as a necklace of great beauty, especially against the dark navy background here. I can imagine the necklace, navy top, denim jacket and gold/orange scarf looking great with an elegant skirt and boots or something as dressed down as faded jeans with ballerina flats. In the photo above, we see another LBD with a spectacular necklace. This time, we see one at the rope/lariat length. Unfortunately, the strap of the cross body bag causes a slight bit of visual interference. This was another wonderful outfit for the symphony. The black dress is of a gorgeous knit fabric, and the necklace combines round black and gold colored beads with a very interesting tear drop/key pendant in silver and gold. These are smartly accompanied by a set of gold bangles. We have an exquisite equilibrium between minimalism and adornment. This last muse seen last weekend at Davies Hall in San Francisco wears what looks like a necklace on her head. I found it so unusual and experimental that I had to include it here: quite the statement! Notice that she wears no other jewelry. The tiara look is sufficient decor with a long black dress and jacket. You could almost consider the very red lips as an accessory. They are certainly a nice addition to any brightly colored or shiny necklace. I hope you have enjoyed this eye candy as much as I have. There are so many ways that a necklace can serve as the perfect accent to an already great outfit. The necklace has the potential as being as fun and transformative to a woman's outfit as can be a man's tie (especially the bow tie!) [caption id="attachment_1026" align="aligncenter" width="600"] At formal events, stylish (and some silly) men commonly wear this version of statement neckwear.[/caption] With all the muses above (minus the one with a penchant for accessories), I think we can agree that without the necklace, the oufit would not have worked nearly as well. The necklace is just about a necessity with the LBD, unless you are wearing a tiara or giant dangly earrings as is the muse pictured below. [caption id="attachment_1033" align="aligncenter" width="420"] Notice how a necklace is not at all necessary with these lovely earrings.[/caption] Another great necklace-attire combination is a brightly colored party dress with larger necklace in a color (or colors) found in the dress. As for casual wear, a statement necklace of big, brightly colored beads is a fun way to dress up a t-shirt with jeans - perhaps with color-coordinated ballerina flats or sandals - or to add interest to a button down or chambray shirt. I would be interested in hearing about any fun you have with necklaces. Have you tried layering? What are some of your favorite looks?




Navy stripes

Made in New York with recycled Lycra from Italy!


These shoes are made for walking: avoid settling for EITHER comfort OR elegance

24th Oct
Wouldn't it be cool if someone made a shoe as comfortable as the Nikes pictured above and sexy as a skyscraper stiletto? I have found through extensive personal research that although well made heels are infinitely more comfortable than cheap ones, there is basically an inverse relationship of beauty to comfort when it comes to women's shoes. In other words, there are 1) walking shoes and there are 2) pretty shoes. Let's be honest with ourselves: orthopedic is not sexy! [caption id="attachment_929" align="aligncenter" width="350"] I normally cringe when I see a dress with running shoes, but the color coordination here (with matching hat) is quite palatable.[/caption] More and more articles are popping up over the interwebs about the hazards to our health of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Those of us who wish to prevent these effects opt for a walk in the morning and/or afternoon. Or we park a considerable distance from the office and take the stairs rather than the elevator. Not only does it make us feel good that we are taking care of ourselves, but we end up with more energy and less stress. If we tried doing all that activity in stilettos, however, the damage to feet and back - not to mention discomfort! - would outweigh the benefits. So, how do we enjoy more mobility and still be able to (play) dress up for work? I discovered a trick which solves this dilemma: wearing both the comfy and the bomb different times, of course! You know those soft cloth bags with a drawstring which come with nicer shoes? They are perfect for protecting footwear from scuffs and scratches during the office. With those in tow, you can wear your "walking" shoes for all that extra cardio during the day and worry less about sore feet, sore back and scratching a leather-covered heel in a crack in the sidewalk. The shoe bag (within a tote) is also a much more sightly and neat way to transport shoes. If you don't already own a small collection of those bags, there are tons online. I know a couple women at work who keep a few pairs of dressy shoes in the office instead of transporting them daily, but I prefer to have all my shoes available at home for non-work activities. So, on weekday mornings, I simply choose a walking shoe to wear and a pretty shoe to stick in a shoe bag. It has become such a habit that I now have some regular combinations. For a brown shoe outfit, for example, I have a couple pairs (pictured below) both by Stuart Weitzman in the same tortoise shell patent leather. How easy is that? You will notice that the walking shoe pictured above has a slight wedge heel and not a super wide toe box (but wide enough for comfort). Both features help to visually elongate the leg, and the heel is much more agreeable than a perfectly flat shoe for walking or standing for long periods of time. It isn't as comfy as a Birkenstock, of course, but is quite sufficient for strolling around town at lunchtime or a brisk mid-morning walk in the park. On days I want to wear my all-time favorites, Jimmy Choo black patent leather peep toe pumps (pictured above), I happened to find a great  flat pair of black patent leather shoes with ankle strap (featured below). That little strap goes a long way to make an outfit dressier, and as you saw in the Stuart Weitzman walking shoe above, it has the more comfortable wedge heel and relatively narrow toe box. Now when I'm in the mood for dressing in all black except for a shoe in a color that pops, I opt for the duo pictured below. The blue Born mary jane to the left gets me to work while the Stuart Weitzman burgundy peep toe pump to the right gives my look the lift I want while I'm there. The blue walking shoe is cushioned and has a platform, which means the incline is not at all steep (visually deceiving!) I also opt to wear them when I have on a pair of tights or dark stockings. Some height of heel and a narrower toe box counteract the thickening effect of tights and create a more tapering/lengthening effect. Although ballerina flats have the potential of making legs look stubby or gangly, I have found they look best sans hosiery. The photos below show quite acceptable looks with flats. Our first muse wears a pair very similar in color to her skin. What better way to extend the line of the legs? A great choice with shorts! Every woman ought to own at least one basic pair of black flats. They are a safe staple for office wear when you want to get around. A little bow over the toes never hurts. Nor do long slender legs. The bright green flat pictured below is exceptionally cool and cute. The color is awesome paired with the turquoise ruched dress, and they don't look the slightest bit orthopedic as do most mary jane style comfort shoes. Our final muse wears ballerina flats in a beautiful azure blue. I currently happen to be coveting a similar pair (sigh!) By doubling up on shoes for the day, not only do you save your feet and back (and figure), but you also extend the life expectancy of your heels. Less frequent are visits to the cobbler for new taps (those rubber pieces on the end of the heel which preserve it and keep you from click-clacking down the hallway). If you think you might give this strategy a whirl, I'd love to hear how it works for you (or not).

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