19
Sep

Stick with easy-on-the-eye pattern for silk trousers

Stick with easy-on-the-eye pattern for silk trousers

June 12, 2014|By Kristyn Schiavone, Tribune Content Agency | Simple Style

Sometimes a women’s style trend surfaces that men don’t understand.

Avid readers of Leandra Medine’s blog “The Man Repeller” will be familiar with this. Her website is dedicated to high-fashion trends that are decidedly un-sexy, such as all things oversized.

It’s no real surprise that men would rather see a woman in a sundress or jeans and fitted white tee than a baggy blazer and oxfords. Of course, our job when dressing ourselves is not to constantly impress our male counterparts. However, every so often they’re right.

It’s come to my attention that the average guy hates the music festival-inspired trend of cutoff mom jeans. I haven’t gotten a great response as to why, except that “it’s weird.” It IS weird, guys! Gold star.

This summer, men’s skepticism lies with printed silk pants. I received an email last week from a male friend requesting an answer to the question of whether “zubaz-style pants” are in for women, and whether they’re appropriate for work. It was clear that this friend was not buying what the pants were selling, and I’ve since followed up with other men who expressed a similar hesitation.

I actually like this trend, and I think we should all wear printed silk pants anyway. But we should demonstrate a certain amount of discretion, because they are basically glorified pajama pants.

My tips:

1. No animal prints allowed.

If you branch into leopard and cheetah prints, it actually will look like you’re wearing Granimals. Your best bet is to keep the pattern small, like petite flowers or Swiss dots. I’ve seen some large floral prints that are cool, too, but they’ll definitely call additional attention to your pants.

2. They’re supposed to be loose-fitting, but not baggy.

When articles of clothing are made with the intent of not being fitted, you can buy your normal size and still achieve the correct look. I usually bring my size and the next size up into the dressing room and try on the largest one first. You never want your clothes to be too tight, either, and these pants look especially bad when they fit poorly.

3. Wear them with plain, fitted shirts.

For the most part, printed silk pants are shown in catalogs and on mannequins paired with simple, fitted tees. Because the pants draw so much attention, you want to pare down the look on your top half. I like a solid-colored shirt, tucked in. Usually the pants have a drawstring, and you don’t want a poof right at your hips.

4. Go for a cropped style.

These pants tend to look even more casual when they’re full-length and bunchy around the ankles. I think it’s because they hearken more to sweatpants that way. Show a little ankle with a cuffed or cropped style.

5. Retire your flats for a day.

Printed silk pants look overwhelmingly better with heels or wedges that are on the daintier side. You want a ladylike shoe, and one that will dress up the look. This might even be a good time to wear those strappy sandals you love but can’t pair with a pencil skirt for work.

19
Sep

Wise up to these dumb fashion trends

Wise up to these dumb fashion trends

December 31, 2009|By Ellen Warren

We’ve all had that sinking feeling, the “What was I thinking?” moment when we look at an old photo and can’t believe we appeared in public looking that way.

As we start a new decade, let’s take a look at some recent fashion and style trends — those worth keeping and the ones whose searing images cry out for a bonfire.

Laugh-out-loud platform shoes

You can’t walk in them, these stepladders for your feet. “They’re for beauty queens and drag queens,” says Susan Swimmer, fashion features editor for More magazine. True: They make your legs look longer. False: They’re pretty or even remotely practical. More appealing footwear trends to continue in the new decade are flat riding boots and ballet flats, plain or embellished, in leather, suede, metallics and animal prints.

Navel gazing

The single worst idea in many decades was the notion that grown women should show off their naked stomachs.

Low-slung jeans gave even the skinniest women an unsightly muffin top spillover.

Pairing these with a crop top that stops above the belly button has fashion disaster written all over it.

The proliferation of jean options in the last decade is a huge and welcome development for women of all ages. But at what cost? Besides the bare belly problem, can any pair of dungarees be worth $400? Nope.

Pee-wee Herman suits

It wasn’t just women who went bad. The shrunken men’s suit popularized by designer Thom Brown was hard to take seriously. But Jay-Z and other celebrities known for their immaculate menswear are signaling a turn to more formal dressing for men. And that’s a good thing. Jeremy Gutsche, founder of trendhunter.com, predicts we’ll see men’s “half formal dressing,” sprucing up traditional business casual with blazers, bow ties and the like. But khaki pants with blue shirts are here to stay. Alas, forever.

Boyfriend dressing

An excuse for oversize clothes that flatter no one (not even the boyfriend). Baggy cardigans, giant button-down shirts, huge blazers, rolled-up blue jeans, unisex lace-up shoes. “It’s very tricky to wear without looking theatrical,” says Swimmer. Stick to the women’s department, where power suiting has undergone a much needed makeover with lots of jacket, skirt and trouser options that have nothing to do with dressing like a man.

Ferocious fashion

Aggressive shoulders might seem right for these tough times, but save them for Rihanna or dress-up on Halloween. “It’s really about evolution, not revolution!” says Gregg Andrews, a Nordstrom fashion director who sees feminine (not girly or sexy) styles predominating in the coming months. Dresses, of a less superhero variety, create winning silhouettes that will continue into spring and beyond. They’re recession friendly, an instant outfit and a no-brainer.

Hobo/boho chic

The Olsen twins could get away with the “bohemian” (bag lady) look — appearing as though they are being devoured by their droopy clothes and massive purses. “They can look bummy because they’re not bums. When you’re billionaires, you can look any way you want,” says Kathryn Finney of budget fashionista.com. For the rest of us: Forget it. More streamlined fashion with artisan touches such as embroidery, beading and fringe is a better choice in 2010.

– – –

More bad ideas to kick to the curb

“It” logo and wait-list purses that cost a month’s rent (and more) “Cloying and cliched,” says Christene Barberich, editorial director of the style and shopping blog refinery29.com.

Clunky footwear Crocs and Uggs. Crocs are cute on toddlers and good for gardening. Period. Cozy Uggs work for apres ski or surfing, but they’re no match for rain and slush.

Neon Nobody looks good in putrid ’80s retread colors.

Skintight anything, especially skinny jeans.

Tattoos Listen to your mother.

– – –

Fashion faves worth keeping

Hats on men and women, especially fedoras

Vintage and vintage-inspired classics

Cardigans Michelle Obama has the right idea.

Wide belts They work magic for those with a waist — or who wish they had one.

Designer-for-less For example, Vera Wang at Kohl’s, Norma Kamali for Walmart and Jimmy Choo at H&M.

Plus sizes with style Way beyond tents and muumuus.

19
Sep

Go wild, just don’t go overboard

Go wild, just don’t go overboard

January 28, 2007|By Hilary Waldman, Tribune Newspapers

It may be a jungle out there, but it’s a safari inside.

Animal prints are everywhere — on rugs and throw pillows, on towels and dessert plates.

The classic zebra-, leopard-, tiger-, giraffe- and cow-hide designs are really nothing new.

They’ve been popular since Teddy Roosevelt returned from a safari after he left the White House in 1909

But the prints that once were accessible only to high-style designers with high-end budgets have hit the magazines, catalogs and discount retailers like a stampede, making leopard throw pillows and zebra-striped towels available to the masses.

Some designers have even called animal prints the new neutral.

“It’s really hard to get tired of them, they’re so utterly timeless,” says Patricia Hart McMillan, an interior designer and co-author of “Home Decorating for Dummies” with her daughter, Katharine Kaye McMillan. “I’ve never seen anything they don’t go with.”

McMillan says one of her friends recently used a leopard-print fabric to re-cover French provincial chairs in a formal condominium. The walls of the living room are blue-green.

At about the same time, Katharine Kaye McMillan used Ralph Lauren leopard-print towels, inexpensive animal-print bathmats and framed art prints of a dromedary camel and a leopard, to dress up an otherwise all-white bathroom in a contemporary apartment.

The jungle motif looks terrific in both settings, Patricia Hart McMillan says.

The key to using animal prints successfully is to maintain a light touch, says Peter Robbin, a partner in LCR, a design firm in West Hartford, Conn. Robbin recently included a zebra-patterned rug in a 1940s Hollywood style remake of a sun porch. The porch was part of the West Hartford Junior League’s designer show house this spring.

It’s easy to add style to virtually any room with a nod to the wild kingdom. An animal-print throw might add sizzle to the couch. Or try covering picture frames in contact-paper printed with leopard, zebra and giraffe patterns, to create a whimsical grouping on the mantel.

A piece or two of jungle can add a touch of class, Robbin cautions. But too much and you’ve crossed the line from classy to comical.

“You start with a leopard pillow,” Robbin deadpans, “and all of a sudden you have a moose head on your wall.”

19
Sep

Fall Of The Wild

Fall Of The Wild

Animal Prints Are Part Of This Season`s Big Game Plan

August 16, 1992|By T.J. Howard.

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

Animal prints are on the prowl again this fall, surfacing in stores everywhere from moderate-price junior departments to high-ticket designer salons. The majority of this fashion menagerie comes from the cat clan-cheetah, leopard, tiger-supplemented by herds of zebra and pony. (Sorry, the bears began hibernating early this year.)

Animal magnetism is nothing new. Style goes on safari every few years, according to fashion savants. “That`s the beauty of it,“ says Rebecca Hitchcock, fashion office manager at Marshall Field & Co. “The look is timeless and yet current all at once.

Although they may appear savage, it`s fairly easy to domesticate these designs. Animal prints are perfect partners for all that black hanging in your closet. Or, better yet, team them up with fall`s hottest hue-red.

One of the newest twists on animal prints is mixing them with other patterns. Valentino civilized his tiger-print blouse by pairing it with a glen-plaid suit, observes Gina Tovar, fashion director at Nordstrom in Oak Brook. Paisley or pinstripes also mate well with animal prints, she adds.

You can also create a whole new breed of beastly chic by taking the same animal print and varying its scale in an outfit. Or go one step further and scramble the species like Genny`s tiger and cheetah trenchcoat.

Warning: Animal prints can get snarlish in close proximity. Print mixing works best when there`s a little distance between the critters. Case in point: a big black sweater keeps a cheetah hat and zebra leggings at bay. Animal lover or not, no woman wants to be mistaken for a character from “Cats.“

Even toned down, animal prints are not a trend for the timid. “You have to enjoy being conspicuous in your fashion,“ says Sandra Michels Adams, a lecturer on fashion history at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Fabric patterns always carry visual messages, whether you are aware of it or not.“

Animal prints first surfaced in textiles in the 1840s. Yet these high contrast patterns were used mostly in home furnishings and didn`t show up in women`s clothing until the 1940s, Michels Adams explains. “Animal prints have always been an eccentric kind of pattern. It`s sexual, vivid, outgoing.“

Women in the 1800s didn`t have a lot of use for aggressive apparel. Yet as female empowerment has gained momentum, so has the ascent of the animal in women`s wardrobes.

The animation of fall apparel can also be interpreted as a symbol of support for the environment. “In society we are seeing a swing toward more natural things,“ says Dennis Meritt, assistant director at the Lincoln Park Zoo. “By wearing these patterns, people may be trying to become closer to nature.“

Different animals capture our attention for different reasons, according to Meritt. “There is a psychological appeal in certain colors and patterns. For example, human beings are naturally drawn to animals with black and white contrast, like panda bears and zebras. People find them very intriguing and perceive them as gentle.“

Spotted cats such as cheetahs and leopards fascinate us because they are sleek and fast-moving, Meritt says. “In tigers, we see stealth and power, an animal that`s secretive. “

“Because of endangered species, of course you can`t wear the real thing today,“ Michels Adams says. But playing around with animal prints is a way to showcase fashion savvy and environmental awareness.

P. 22. Eric Javits beret (about $110) at Neiman Marcus; Lee Wolfe gold hoop earrings ($74), Echo scarf ($33), Hue unitard ($75) and Sam & Libby ballet flats ($40), all at Bloomingdale`s; DKNY bodysuit ($110) at Nordstrom; Anxiety vest ($26) at Marshall Field & Co.; hatbox ($545) at Bendel`s; Agatha charm bracelet ($55 1-800-AGATHA7).

P. 23, lower right: Eric Javits cap (about $75) at Neiman Marcus; Lee Wolfe silver hoop earrings ($62) at The Final Touch, Northfield; white tee

($48) at Bendel`s; black sweater ($68) at Melrose; Tapemeasure zebra-print leggings ($46) and beaded elastics worn as bracelets ($18 each) at

Bloomingdale`s; Sam & Libby ballet flats ($45) Lord & Taylor.

P. 23, far left: d`Rossana boots ($358) at Nordstrom; Lee Wolfe rings

($126 each) and cuff ($210) at The Final Touch; d`Rossana zebra-striped pumps ($180) at Joseph Shoes.

P. 23, center: Echo scarf ($33) at Bloomingdale`s; Lee Wolfe earrings

($142), Necessary Objects bodysuit ($72), Y.E.S. skirt ($44) and fishnets

($10.50), all at Nordstrom; suede platforms ($98) at 99th Floor; beaded bag

($65) by Inge Christopher at 800-827-1112.

19
Sep

Rush Extravaganza Turns Up Music Instead In Parade Of Celebrities

Benefit Skips The Animal Prints

Rush Extravaganza Turns Up Music Instead In Parade Of Celebrities

September 16, 1999|By Wendy Navratil, Tribune Staff Writer.

Tigers and mares have been known to accessorize models in past Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Fashion Shows at the Medinah Temple, and the beasts hardly seemed out of place in an arena that had seen so many circuses come and go.

But in the 73rd annual extravaganza Tuesday evening, any ferocity was left to a pooch the size of Toto, and any purring to such divas as Lynne Jordan and former Miss America Kate Shindle. After 53 years at the Medinah Temple, the venerable Chicago event moved to the renovated Symphony Center, ruling out some of the wilder antics of yore.

“It’s definitely not a horse-and-pony show,” director Skip Grisham said beforehand. “But I did sneak in a small dog.”

Little “Toto,” in turn, managed to sneak out of its collar while 15-year-old Folin Ponce De Leon, dressed as Dorothy and holding the leash, performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Despite liberation, the canine dutifully remained near the girl’s side during FAO Schwarz’s display of kids’ clothes and costumes.

Live music, always a signature component of the nation’s largest and oldest continuous fashion show, naturally gained emphasis this year. The “Symphony of Style” featured the Don Cagen Orchestra as well as tenors Rodrick Dixon and Alberto Mizrachi, violinist Rachel Barton and actress-vocalist Hollis Resnik–reprising Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”–among others.

To the audience’s hoots of approval, Andra C. Mitrovich of the Royal George Theatre’s musical “Love, Janis” drawled an a cappella snippet of “Mercedes Benz”–subbing in the lyrics “Papa, won’t you buy me a fur with fringed ends”–during the Saks Fifth Avenue fur segment.

In Hartmarx’s golfwear presentation, models braved the possibility of taking divots out of the gleaming wood stage as they swung plastic balls into the audience, which included Mayor Daley and his wife, Maggie, there to see son Patrick and daughter Nora.

Acting as designated hitter for Cartier during its sports spoof, Sonia Sosa donned a Cubs uniform and $1.3 million in jewels, then hit an invisible home run from the stage–while her husband wished for the real thing in Cincinnati. Alas, the game precluded Sammy from slipping into the audience here, as Michael Jordan did last year when his wife, Juanita, modeled.

In all, 19 retailers dressed more than 150 socialites and celebrities. The benefit event, presented by the Woman’s Board of the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and emceed by Mary Ann Childers and Jay Levine, raised about $500,000 last year and was expected to bring in about the same again. Proceeds will benefit the Robert H. and Terry Cohn Research Building, set to open this spring.

19
Sep

Wild Things

Wild Things

Leopards, Tigers And Zebras — Animal Prints Of Any Stripe —

Are King Of The Fashion Jungle For Fall.

July 15, 1987|By Genevieve Buck.

It`s wild out there in the fashion world, with leopards stalking the dress racks, zebras jamming the jewelry cases. Animal prints are everywhere, on everything, at every price.

Nobody quite agrees on a single reason for the popularity of animal prints for fall; leopards, in particular, have lurked in some collections for years.

But designer Cathy Hardwick may have figured out whey they`re once again roaring onto the fashion scene:

“Whenever clothes get shorter and sexier, when they get kind of tight, kind of racy–maybe even just a little bit trashy–then it`s time for all those cats and jungle types to be fashionable again.“

She`s right, of course. Just visualize the Queen of England holding court in zebra-patterned taffeta, coordinated with a nifty diamond-and-onyx tiara. Dalmatian dots might do, but prints inspired by animals that prowl the jungle and play in the wild denote fun rather than formality.

On the other hand, it`s easy to picture a virile Tarzan swinging through the trees to meet his leopard-clad Jane, or to visualize a young and voluptuous Brigitte Bardot wearing a little spotted something, whether she ever did or not.

“And don`t forget Mrs. Robinson,“ offers Sal Ruggiero, Marshall Field`s director of fashion, reminding us of the animal-print scanties that Anne Bancroft wore for her first encounter with Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.“ On safari

Still, Ruggiero admits there are other reasons animal patterns

–particularl y those inspired by wild animals–are enjoying another spurt of popularity in fall fashions and even continuing on to the holiday season.

“It`s a continuation of all of the safari looks that have been evolving since `Out of Africa,` “ he says.

Fashion gurus have other opinions. Some hear the call of the wild because Parisian Yves Saint Laurent likes animal prints–and he`s considered one of the most influential designers in the world.

Others say leopards and zebras–and occasional tigers and jaguars and cheetahs and even giraffes–are fashionably “in“ because another Parisian, Sonia Rykiel, turned out a very amusing collection of spotted fake furs a few years ago and they were so much fun that everybody in the world tried to copy them.

Still others say there is a plethora of leopard and zebra patterns this year because they look terrific with black. Black has been a fashion favorite for some seasons now and it`s a good bet that it will continue in that role, especially by way of little black skirts (which will undoubtedly look sensational with leopard sweaters).

Look of luxury

The Apparel Center`s fashion director, Susan Glick, says: “Animal patterns continue the feeling of luxury that has been so prevalent in fashion. Even though they are faux, somehow they denote a sense of richness in the same way a crocodile or ostrich belt, bag or shoe–real or pretend–has an aura of luxury.“

Some animal-patterned fashions are in stratospheric price ranges that are indeed synonymous with luxury, but those patterns also appear in bikini panties that cost just a few dollars. For fall, animal patterns run the gamut of prices and styles.

Some examples: In the four-digit clothes category, Bill Blass` fall collection includes sequined or stenciled leopard and zebra skirts, which he showed with matching Manolo Blahnik shoes; Geoffrey Beene came out with a leopard jumpsuit, and there are cheetah-patterned skirts by Oscar de la Renta and still more spots at Carolyne Roehm. Then, of course, there are those tawny “panther“ printed suedes and cashmeres, sometimes edged in fox, from Valentino, who knows a thing or so about designing clothes that ooze of luxury and sexiness as well.

Escada has Lurex and mohair tunic-length leopard sweaters; Perry Ellis has jaguars in cashmere and velvet; and numerous other designers and manufacturers have animal-patterned everything, including jewelry, hair bows and bags.

Faux fur

Though real leopards (and other such animals) do not appear in anyone`s collections because they are endangered species, there are numerous spotted fake furs around, as well as some furs stenciled to resemble jungle animals. For example, Carole Little, who has been designing “affordable“ furs and leathers ($300 to $1,150) for three years, has a sumptuous wrap coat that looks as if it stepped right out of an Erte drawing: Made of sheared French rabbit stenciled in a cheetah pattern, it features a large shawl collar of curly Tibetan lamb and is priced at about $800. She also has a denim blouson jacket with shoulder yokes of sheared rabbit stenciled with animal spots and leather pockets embossed in a crocodile pattern (and trimmed with rhinestones, too!) that certainly fits the category of fun fashion.

Hardwick likes to spotlight this fun aspect of animal prints. “I try not to take fashion too seriously, and I believe the modern woman wants both wit and sophistication in the clothes she wears. My predatory prints cover both

–they`re fun and fashionable.“

And who needs more reasons than that to enjoy a style on the wild side?

19
Sep

Animal Magnetism

Animal Magnetism

Designers Hear The Call Of The Wild, Turning Faux Spots And Stripes Into The Season`s Most Exotic Prints.

January 01, 1992|By Text by Emil Wilbekin.

Some are dubbing this savagely stylish condition as jungle fever, while others insist that it`s the call of the wild.

From Wilma Flintstone to Jackie Onassis, from fashion to home furnishings, the allure of faux animal print is causing frisky business.

“I love fake fur because it`s a real hommage to the animal,“ says fashion designer Todd Oldham, who created Bengal tiger-print suits and leopard-print shirts for his fall collections. “Animal prints look good no matter how you style them.“

City streets are looking like wildlife preserves filled with women in leopard and cheetah print plastic raincoats, vintage “fun fur“ overcoats and jaguar print chiffon scarves.

Designers go wild

Azzedine Alaia went cat crazy this fall, designing leopard-print knit push-up dresses, clinging sweaters, short jackets, driving gloves, platform shoes and full-length coats for his ready-to-wear collection.

Other designers like Oldham, Gianni Versace, Rifat Ozbek and Valentino took a walk on the wild side, too. Versace invigorated the pantsuit with a midriff-baring leopard version. Ozbek wraps the female figure in bold tiger-striped catsuits and blousons. Oldham, collaborating with craftswoman Liore Manne, modernized the sexy suit by adding a soft felting process called La Montage and covering it with Bengal tiger print.

For the House of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld trimmed classic wool suits with cheetah print cuffs and collar. New York City designer Zang Toi teamed leopard cuffs and skirts with pastel colored suits and swing coats.

“Leopard print is really classic, it never goes out of style,“ says Toi, who sports a long, black wool coat with a big leopard hood. “I always love animal prints. They are the perfect backdrop for any color-it`s like a neutral.“

Beauty and the beast

Throughout the ages, designers have romanced the beast by interpreting their skins into wearable fashion. The Egyptians wore real leopard skins in 2000 B.C. to display their regal standing. In the Middle Ages, British nobility wore ermine trimmed robes with spotted astrakhan paw prints.

Today, animal skins that are most commonly imitated include the spotted cheetah, the ring patterned jaguar and leopard, and the zebra.

While animal prints can make an avant-garde fashion statement, members of the fashion community consider them classics. They`re like denim or pinstripes, says Oldham. Staples that can let out an unexpected roar every now and then.

19
Sep

It’s OK to go wild, just don’t go overboard

It’s OK to go wild, just don’t go overboard

January 21, 2007|By Hilary Waldman, Tribune Newspapers.

It may be a jungle out there, but it’s a safari inside.

Animal prints are everywhere — on rugs and throw pillows, on towels and dessert plates.

The classic zebra-, leopard-, tiger-, giraffe- and cow-hide designs are really nothing new.

They’ve been popular since Teddy Roosevelt returned from a safari after he left the White House in 1909.

But the prints that once were accessible only to high-style designers with high-end budgets have hit the magazines, catalogs and discount retailers like a stampede, making leopard throw pillows and zebra-striped towels available to the masses.

Some designers have even called animal prints the new neutral.

“It’s really hard to get tired of them, they’re so utterly timeless,” says Patricia Hart McMillan, an interior designer and co-author of “Home Decorating for Dummies” with her daughter, Katharine Kaye McMillan.

“I’ve never seen anything they don’t go with.”

McMillan says one of her friends recently used a leopard-print fabric to re-cover French provincial chairs in a formal condominium. The walls of the living room are blue-green.

At about the same time, Katharine Kaye McMillan used Ralph Lauren leopard-print towels, inexpensive animal-print bathmats and framed art prints of a dromedary camel and a leopard, to dress up an otherwise all-white bathroom in a contemporary apartment.

The jungle motif looks terrific in both settings, Patricia Hart McMillan says.

The key to using animal prints successfully is to maintain a light touch, says Peter Robbin, a partner in LCR, a design firm in West Hartford, Conn.

Robbin recently included a zebra-patterned rug in a 1940s Hollywood style remake of a sun porch. The porch was part of the West Hartford Junior League’s designer show house this spring.

It’s easy to add style to virtually any room with a nod to the wild kingdom. An animal-print throw might add sizzle to the couch.

Or try covering picture frames in contact-paper printed with leopard, zebra and giraffe patterns, to create a whimsical grouping on the mantel.

A piece or two of jungle can add a touch of class, Robbin cautions. But too much and you’ve crossed the line from classy to comical.

19
Sep

Animal prints need balance

Animal prints need balance

August 23, 2008|By Clinton Kelly and Fashion expert Clinton Kelly is a RedEye special contributor and star of TLC’s “What Not To Wear.”

Hey Clinton!

I got this really cute short-sleeved, zebra-striped jacket, and I want to know how not to look boring with just a black skirt. I was thinking maybe red patent pumps and a yellow bag or something, but I want to make sure I’m not going to look like walking tie-dye. Thanks so much!

— Lee, Florida

Hey Lee,

A walking tie-dye? Maybe. But I think you should worry more about looking like a walking zebra that stepped in ketchup while carrying a bottle of mustard.

Red shoes and a yellow bag — that’s tricky business, girl. I’m not saying it can’t be done, because it sure can, but probably not with zebra print. But before we get to accessories, allow me to dispense my biggest piece of animal-print advice: Do it with structure and in the best quality you can afford. When you do baggy, shapeless, bad/faux animal prints, you run the risk of looking like Jane of the Jungle who just skinned her lunch and threw it on her back.

Animal prints need to be balanced with sharp lines or attention to silhouette, either in the garment itself (like a belted giraffe print shirt dress) or its accompaniments (a leopard blouse with a pencil skirt).

That doesn’t sound like your issue, Lee, as I assume this jacket of yours has some shape to it. However, I don’t want you to look silly by losing focus.

Zebra print is bold and will need to be the star of the show. A colorful bag and shoes will compete for attention, lessening the impact of your look overall. If you want to add color, that’s fine. Just do it in one place, either in the bag or in the shoe.

If a printed blouse or dress is multicolored, you can pick up one color from the print for the bag and another from the print for the shoes. But with black-and-white prints, like zebra, you’re better off pairing it with neutrals, plus one “pop” color and some texture or shine elsewhere.

So, the way I’d style this jacket would be with a black skirt (neutral), black tights (neutral again), a black patent heel (shine!) and a yellow envelope clutch (pop!). But you probably won’t want to wear tights in Florida, so do it with a black skirt (neutral), silver sandals (shine!) and a green clutch (pop!). Or some dark denim (neutral), a red shoe (pop!) and a black beaded clutch (shine!).

I hope that helps. Enjoy the jacket. Beware of cheetahs.

— clinton

– – –

PICTURE IT!

Not only is Clinton solving your fashion crises (just drop him a line at redeyeclinton@tribune.com), but now he’s also sizing up your outfit. E-mail a photo of yourself and your duds to the usual address — again, redeyeclinton@tribune.com — and Clinton might critique it in the pages of RedEye. As always, don’t forget to include your name and where you’re from.

19
Sep

How to wear animal prints

How to wear animal prints

Want to dress like an animal? Your timing is absolutely purrfect.

Stores have gone wild for animal prints, with more options than … spots on a leopard, scales on a snake. Oh, you get the idea.

The profusion of animal prints is great news for those of us battered by the recession (who isn’t?): A well-priced cheetah/zebra/ocelot accessory is an especially frugal way to transform the old standbys in your wardrobe. Even a few bucks will do it.

Sure, you can pay a couple thousand dollars for a big-label zebra handbag like those in the luscious photos in the animal-print story in the March Vogue.

But at Aldo shoe stores (aldoshoes.com), you have a choice of three zebra bags starting at $35 and you’ll get the same pop with your little black dress or other wardrobe workhorses.

A stroll through stores stocking up for spring turns up animal-print adornments, literally, from head to toe. Hats, headbands, barrettes, ponytail holders. Earrings (dangle and stud), necklaces, rings, watches, belts and bangles. Scads of scarves, sweaters, hoodies, blouses, T-shirts. Tanks, camis, bras, bustiers, briefs and thongs. Swimsuits, raincoats, pajamas, nightgowns, coats, dresses, skirts, shorts, gloves, socks, leggings, tights, totes, purses, clutches, boots, flats, stilettos, wellies, jeans, slacks, coats, jackets. Don’t forget non-wearables, such as key chains, notebooks, backpacks, luggage, umbrellas, stationery, bedding, blankets, wrapping paper and fake fingernails. Phew.

Bloomingdale’s Chicago personal shopper Joyce Sobczyk rhapsodizes about animal prints, even in a down economy. “I love it and I sell a ton of it,” she says. “There are so many variations — and it’s all good.”

Like many good things, a little goes a long way. And bear in mind that the same patterns that do such an outstanding job of hiding wild animals from natural predators do the opposite on a human torso.

An animal print “really calls attention to the area” where you’re wearing it, says Jennifer Uglialoro, spokeswoman for retailer H&M. “They definitely don’t camouflage. If you want to draw attention away from your bottom half, maybe you don’t want to wear leopard pants.”

H&M, the fashion-for-less retailer, has built an entire spring advertising campaign on a black-and-white zebra print that is galloping out of the stores, especially since singer Katy Perry sported it in a jumpsuit at a recent Las Vegas photo op.

If you’re young and shapely like Perry, such a large print can work (in fact, anything can work). But for the rest of us, we’re better off trying smaller, not-so-bold prints such as leopard and cheetah. Sure, Paris Hilton can rock a leopard bikini, a neon-pink cheetah bustier or a python print halter top. But for the vast majority, those items would look cheesy, if not outright pole dancer.

If you do choose a big blast of animal — like the ruffle-front leopard print dress Katie Couric wore on an appearance earlier this month on David Letterman’s show — tone it down with neutrals as she did with a black blazer and plain black tights.

Sonya Cosentini, spokeswoman for off-price retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, says: “Keep it a little more subtle. The key to wearing an animal print is to not overdo. These prints look fabulous on a pair of shoes with a neutral outfit,” she says.

Animal prints are “a great way to dress high fashion and not spend a lot of money. Buy one or two pieces. You can mix or match with what you already have in your wardrobe and you don’t spend a lot of money at all,” says Uglialoro. “And they’re something you can wear from spring into fall.” Not only can you buy the zebra jumpsuit or dress for $39.90 at H&M, but there also are black/gray ocelot tunics for $24.90, animal-print scarves from $4.90 in colors definitely not found in nature (orange, grape or pink) and snakeskin tights for $7.90. There’s a similar huge selection at Forever 21 (forever21.com), most priced under $20.

If you’re afraid to jump into the jungle scene, Bloomies’ Sobczyk suggests a coat lined in leopard print for a subtle touch or an animal cami barely peeking out from a solid blouse.

Mixing more than one animal print in a single outfit — leopard and zebra for example — is generally a bad idea unless you’ve got a fashion stylist on your payroll to make it work.

“The average person can’t go out mixing up a bunch of patterns like that,” says Sobczyk.

She offers this final tip: “Don’t wear an animal print pant and jacket. Then, it looks like pajamas or a Halloween costume, God forbid!”

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Do’s and don’t’s

*Less is more — max of two animal items at a time.

*Don’t mix different animal prints.

*Unnatural animal brights look great — in moderation.

*Snakeskin, alligator and croc add texture and will mix with animal prints.

*Not a good hider; use prints to focus attention on body parts you want to show off.

*Animal prints look best against neutrals: black, khaki, white and gray.