Look Like A New Year’s Star

Posted On December 31, 2006

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A Few Little Tricks Might Help You Sparkle
If you are going to a party or out on the town to ring in the New Year, of course you want to shine. Here are some of her ideas and some of the products that were used to illustrate them on the show:

The Little Black Dress: If you don’t have one, you should get one. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on it. You can get a black strapless tube dress for $69.50 or a black beaded halter dress for $98 at Express stores. For help finding an Express store, click here.

Makeup: This is also something that is simple and can make a big difference in the way you look from day to night.
The “smoky eyes” look is popular, and you can use the Tarte Peep Show Palette in Amber ($37, 800-HBendel) to get it.

Chanel is out with a new limited-edition metallic eye-shadow compact that is designed to resemble the sequins that are sewn onto a Chanel gown. Here is the information:
Chanel Lumière D’Artifices, $60, chanel.com

For sparkling eyes and glowing body (all at Target.com)
Sonia Kashuk-Target: Leading Lady holiday eye set, $14.99
Glow Shimmer Powder with Kabuki, $19.99
Sheer Luxury Lip Color, $7.99

Red polish:
Beginners would love this classic matte shade.
Creative Nail Design in Candy Apple, $6, goindulge.com

Sparkly red is the perfect pick for New Year’s.
OPI Nail Lacquer in Red Dazzle, $8, 800-341-9999

Pearly red looks festive, but not over-the-top.
Color Club in American Beauty, $5, salons nationwide

You also can look like a star by using the jewelry they wear, including long drop earrings, or simple diamond-like earrings to wear with your hair in an up-do.
Bangles are very hot this year, and a long necklace can help jazz up that little black dress, too.

Glittery drops:
Bakers, $14, Bakers stores nationwide
Express, $22.50, Express stores nationwide. For help finding an Express store, click here.
Aqua, $28, Bloomingdales stores nationwide, or try Bloomingdales.com
14K white gold diamond earrings (2.02 carats), Endless Diamond Collection, $2,544 at Macy’s, Zales and several independent jewelers nationwide.

For the chunky ones with the concave shape and antique-gold tone that look cool with jeans:
A.V. Max, $32 for three, avmaxaccessories.com
For the slim wavy bangles that look elegant with a cocktail dress:
Lydell NYC, $40, Bloomingdales stores nationwide, or try Bloomingdales.com

Long necklaces:
Axcess, $28, Kohls.com
J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez, $40, Macys.com
Aqua, $85, Bloomingdales stores nationwide, or try Bloomingdales.com

Belts at Express:
Metal mesh scarf/belt, $29.50
Bronze wide braided belt, $39.50
Metallic silver snake print belt, $29.50
Black wide patent leather belt, $39.50

Handbags at Express:
Black, gold, & silver metal mesh clutch, $39.50
Gold shimmer ball-clip clutch, $39.50

Shoes from Bloomingdale’s (in stores or try Bloomingdales.com:
Ralph Lauren, $125
Anne Klein, originally $285; on sale for $189.99

You got invited. Fine. What to wear?

Posted On December 17, 2006

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You get an invitation that’s lovely, but when it comes to the appropriate dress, it’s pretty vague. Exactly what does it mean by “fun cocktail garb” or “dressy chic?”

If it says >
Cocktail >
Wear a dress. The little black dress is a classic cocktail look, but lots of colors are also great for a holiday event. Don’t wear a long gown.

Office party > Be sure to wear something polished and tailored. Don’t show too much skin.

Casual chic > Pants are fine for a casual party, but the “chic” part dictates you wear something pulled together, a pants set or a twin set with pants.

Fun casual > Words like “fun” or “festive” in the invitation allow you to loosen up a bit. Wear something with a little glitz like a sweater with a faux fur trim paired with black pants.

Dressy chic > Same as cocktail.

Black tie > Wear either a long or short dress. Men must wear tuxes.

Black-tie optional > Same as black tie. Men can opt for dressy, dark-colored suits.

Source > About.com’s guide to women’s fashion.

Christmas Style > Find your design scents

Posted On December 9, 2006

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Accessorize your home by adding the right fragrance combination

As you turn your attention to your Christmas decorating, consider the latest must-have accessory > scent. Suddenly, infusing the atmosphere in your home is akin to choosing a sofa. Those in the air-care industry talk about “layering” scent and finding your own “scents” of style.

“It’s as important as the right lamp or paint color”, says a fragrance decorator. “Scent truly completes the design of your home and the mood you are hoping to create.”

Fueling this trend are fragrances and packaging that are more sophisticated and desirable. Popular scents range from paint to beautiful-smelling cleaning products.

Gussy up the laundry
Gone are the days of washing clothes in some generic “wildflower” scent. Recently, even Tide introduced a line of detergents in scents such as vanilla and lavender. A press release suggests washing linens in one of the scents to “infuse the fabrics in your home with a scent that matches your decorating style.”

Devise a device method
There are also lots of nifty devices. Febreze has developed Scentstories, a disk player that “plays” a variety of scents. Glade has come out with the Scented Oil Light Show, which dispenses scent while a light show plays “creating a multi-sensory experience for tweens and teens.”

Then there’s the Scentport from Bath and Body Works, a sleek fragrance diffuser designed by Harry Slatkin and available for the holidays, a scent Sir Elton John picked out himself.

Add a few drops of essential oil to a hot stone oil burner from This Works and, poof, your home smells like the spa at the Bellagio.

Reed diffusers from Antica Farmacista, have an old-world charm. Invert the wooden reeds to get as much, or as little, fragrance as you like.

Get moody with scented candles
And you can always use candles to create the right “mood.” Zents makes a line of 10 “different, yet compatible scents to choose from,” according to a press release, so that “creating an original home fragrance is easy and luxurious.” The candles are available at selected retailers and at www.zents.com. They come in Zen aromas such as Water, a blend of citrus and mint.

To evoke the Christmas Season, Keihl’s has come out with special-edition holiday candles in Grapefruit and Amber. Harry Slatkin has a candle that combines mandarin orange, cinnamon, clove, pine and eucalyptus. Slatkin also has scented rocks in his holiday collection.

Create your signature scent
To find the right aroma for your home, pay attention to fragrances when you are out and about. Make a note of those you like and then find products that match to bring the experience into your home.

Also consider your décor. If you have warm tones and cozy furniture, you want a warm fragrance, such as vanilla, pumpkin and cinnamon. More modern, cool colored rooms require a scent that is clean and inviting like rain, pine, lavender and lemongrass.

Just don’t go overboard
Most people can’t detect more than two smells, according to recent clinical research. When you add a third, it usually gets jumbled. Still, you can use different scents throughout the home. In fact, research has looked at the functional effects of smell. Using vanilla in the bedroom, for example, may help people sleep better, while green apple in the kitchen may reduce appetite.

When layering scents, have in mind this rule: If you could eat the combination, it will probably work. A perfect example is apple and cinnamon. These taste great together, whereas sugar cookie and pine, not so good! When testing a fragrance, apply the scent, and then leave the room. Upon your return, your nose will know.

Luxury brands give high-priced meaning to ‘power ties’

Posted On December 8, 2006

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Long the most boring gift under the Christmas tree, the tie is getting a luxury makeover this holiday season.

Tie makers, struggling with declining sales since the early 1990s, are proposing more luxurious fabrics, pricier construction techniques and fancier gift boxes to position their wares at the highest end of the market. The reason: Ties more than $100 are the one segment of the market that’s reporting brisk growth.

Earlier this year, Salvatore Ferragamo introduced its most expensive tie ever, a $180 handmade five-fold tie of Italian silk. LVMH’s Thomas Pink label is rolling out its first “seven-fold” tie, made from a single piece of silk folded seven times, for $165; that’s $65 more than its current top-of-the-line style. Robert Talbott is also launching its first seven-fold tie, a limited edition sold in lacquered wooden boxes. Suggested price tag: $245, a venture into the elite territory claimed by companies like Kiton.

Several retailers say they are stocking up on pricey ties this season because the category did so well last year. “Our customers are telling us they want more,” says Russ Patrick, general merchandise manager for menswear at Neiman Marcus. Among this year’s offerings: Stefano Ricci ties decorated with Swarovski crystals for more than $1,000.

Besides the higher price tags, shoppers will see new styles. With men’s closets full of the stripes and solids, brands such as Calvin Klein and Mark Pendleton are reviving the paisley motif. Many of the new paisleys are woven rather than printed, and colors run to jewel tones such as bronze and burnt orange. When pairing a shirt with a paisley tie, one should coordinate with one of the lighter colors in the pattern.

In general, though, colors are more muted than they were this past spring, with plums and purples replacing pastels and bright pinks. As shirt collars have gotten wider and shorter, bigger knots are returning, too.

Shoppers will also see more of the so-called suiting tie, similar to suit fabrics, sometimes in cashmere. So far, wool ties haven’t gained a wide following, despite promotion by retailers and fashion magazines. But pinstripes or glen plaids, from the likes of Ike Behar and Bergdorf Goodman, are as conservative in style as the suits on which they’re based; they’re a good bet for men who want to be fashion forward without being flashy.

The upmarket strategy on the part of manufacturers and retailers comes amid a boom in sales of high-priced ties and strong sales of luxury goods overall. At department stores, sales of ties costing $100 or more rose 22 percent last year, compared with a decline of nearly 9 percent for ties under $100, according to market researcher NPD Group.

More generally, the tie business is facing a knotty problem. Sales peaked in the early 1990s at about $1.3 billion, according to the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association. Then men started dressing more casually. Last year, sales inched up 2.6 percent from the previous year, to $831.6 million, but sales during the crucial last three months of 2005 actually fell 1.2 percent, according to NPD Group. Discounting helped push down the average price of a tie to $15.96 last year, from $17.01 in 2004.

Another hurdle: The one-time no-brainer present for Dad is now viewed as the ultimate cliche. Tie makers say one solution is to make their ties stand out. “I don’t wear ties very often, but making it something a little special would be a hook that would appeal to me,” says Thomas, who runs an artist management agency. If he got such a tie as a present, he says, “my perception would be that the giver put a little more thought into the gift.”

Some middle-market stores are starting to carry more expensive ties, in an attempt to distinguish themselves from competitors. This year, Lord & Taylor is carrying cashmere neckwear for the first time, $79.50 ties made by Mark Pendleton. Even J.C. Penney is promoting ties with heavier linings and self-tipping, a construction technique common in expensive ties in which the underside is made of the same fabric as the front. The ties, packaged in fabric-covered boxes, cost $32.50, $4 more than previous prices for the Stafford Executive brand.

But some observers say the upmarket strategy will be tough, especially for labels customers don’t expect to be super expensive. “If the brand is fixed in the consumer’s mind as moderately priced or lacks that aura that comes with an Hermes, it will be hard for that brand to get consumers to trade up,” says Richard Jaffe, a retail analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.

Fashion experts stress moderation in holiday dressing

Posted On December 4, 2006

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The holidays invite overindulgence, whether it’s overspending on gifts, stuffing yourself at holiday parties or imbibing too much 100-proof cheer. To this list we should add one more: overdressing.

When it comes to choosing stylish attire for the holidays, some women dress like Mrs. Claus on a three-day drunk. Reindeer sweaters. Musical clothing. Candy-cane earrings. The holidays bring out the worst fashion choices this side of the earth. Whimsical fashion does not amuse me. Novelty sweaters with sparkles, and sweaters that light up, and men who have neckties that have Christmas wreaths and play a jingle, I think they’re a line that should not have been crossed.

If this sounds like someone you know, perhaps your holiday gift to them should be “Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts” (Gotham Books, $25). The book is named for Glamour magazine’s popular back-page item, which features paparazzi-style photos of women in public. The fashion “Dos” wear their clothes well. But it’s the “Don’ts” that excite our horror and sympathy. These frights and frumps commit a myriad of sartorial sins, from wearing denim bustiers to mixing Spandex with animal prints. All have a black bar superimposed over their faces to spare their feelings and, presumably, to avoid lawsuits. The message to readers is clear: This could be you.

Women can avoid being a Fashion Don’t over the holidays, experts say. For example, use the season to take advantage of dressing up the way you can’t at, say, a Fourth of July barbecue. But this does not mean trying to outshine the Christmas tree.

My Do for the holiday season is to enjoy wearing velvet and cashmere and luscious fabrics that are too dressy to wear most of the year. This is the time to enjoy texture and depth of color and beautiful jewel tones that you can’t do 10 months out of the year.

Red and green worn together brings out the Scrooge. Those are Christmas colors, but they belong on the trees. Even those who don’t err on the side of kitsch often overdo the glitz. This is the time of year when you can really show your style. If you’re going to dress up, this is the time. A lot of people tend to take that message and go overboard. Here’s a few Don’ts for the style-conscious:

  • No. 1, never wear red and green unless you’re going to a costume gala.
  • No. 2, steer clear of anything with a holiday theme, a sweatshirt with a Christmas tree on it, a sweater embroidered with a scene, or those printed turtlenecks.

Here’s my holiday Dos, too:

If you’re going to wear one thing that’s really fancy, you should try to keep it simple everywhere else. If you’re going to wear a floor-length, sparkly gown, make sure to keep your hair natural looking and jewelry simple to avoid looking too costume-y.

Many people come into a shop looking for red. Often, they end up choosing black instead. People are afraid of red. It’s a passion color. It’s a power color. They like it, but they usually like it on other people. If you have second thoughts about red, don’t force yourself to do it. If you want something red, do a red accessory. Do a red purse. Do red jewelry. Do a red scarf.

A fashion consultant says Christmas themes are OK as long as they’re done in moderation. Some older women like to wear the Christmas tree pins, I think if it’s done with the right look, that’s OK. A caution to women who are attending holiday parties is that they can do a glittery gown or shoes, but not both. Don’t do the shoe as your main attraction. Unless you’re exposing your leg. If you are going to a cocktail party where you’re going to be sitting with your legs crossed, then the shoes will be exposed. Then you attract attention to the leg. A tasteful Christmas-themed sweater can help spread a bit of cheer. I don’t have a problem with doing a sweater that’s Christmas-y with snowflakes, because that’s the only time you can do that. If your mood moves you to do the holiday thing, then go for it.

Fashionably Festive

Whether you’re dressing the house or yourself, these are some trends to watch.

Want to see what’s stylish in holiday decor this year? Check out the fashion trends. Copper and bronze metallics stand out on jewelry, shoes, handbags, parkas and party dresses this season but also add subtle shine to table linens, gift wrap, holiday ornaments, napkin rings and dinnerware.

Purple? A color to watch for as well. Teal? Eye-catching on everything from corduroy jeans to peacock feather trees. Black and white? A combo you can’t miss.

The crossover of fashion to home is nothing new, of course, but as seasonal merchandise began arriving in stores earlier this fall, the connection became clear. Colors, and color combinations, are spilling over from fashion to home furnishings faster than ever these days.

For holiday decor, the biggest movement in ornaments, figures and decorations has been the unusual colors, going away from the traditional. The metals, copper, platinums and golds, have been a big mover, and this year copper is moving faster than the gold.

People also are decorating by color theme, and the combinations are not the standard green and red. Teal and silver, for example. And purple with golds, with touches of pinks, for an elegant look.

Fueling this trend is the fact that many people today opt for more than one tree in their home. They will do an elegant tree in the front window and then something with a country, woodland theme in the family room, or a collection tree. It could be a tree filled with an expanding collection of Santas, for example, or even one with birds and butterflies.

So whether you are dressing your buffet table, your Christmas tree or yourself, here are some popular trends we have observed:

Black and white > It’s become a major trend in home design recently, and it’s always a staple in fashion. Now, black and white makes a very bold statement for the holidays.

Festive accessories for the home include black-and-white ornaments, black-and-white holiday stationery, black-and-white fleece throws, and – from Old Navy – black-and-white wine boxes.

Fashion collections are full of the classic color combo as well, and not just for cocktail dresses. A holiday look from Liz Claiborne features a winter white silk charmeuse blouse worn with a long black velvet skirt and layers of black beads, including one strand accented with black ribbon. Like many fashionable beads this season, these are layered in various lengths, the longest extending down to the waist.

Then comes this news: In some circles, black is the new green when it comes to artificial Christmas trees. Sure, pink, purple, white and silver trees have shown up in recent years but, now, black is considered by some to be tres chic.  

And the trend started off American soil. “Last year, when the trendiest Americans were hanging their trees upside down, style-setters in Great Britain dumped dreams of a white Christmas and embraced the dark side black trees with black trunks and black branches, like Scotch pines scorched in a wildfire,” an American newspaper reported.

Closer to home, and, perhaps, earth, the Home Depot Direct catalog features a room furnished in black and off-white with silver accents. In the corner, a white Christmas tree is decorated with black, white and silver ornaments. Trend noted.

Metallics > Shimmering metallic dresses and accessories show up in all the fashion magazines, but copper, bronze, platinum and other antiquated metallic finishes offer an alternative to shiny gold and silver for the home as well.

Especially popular are metallic tree ornaments in copper and bronze, as well as gold luster dinnerware; matte silver trays; gold mesh wine bags; antique bronze napkin rings; woven brown and gold Christmas stockings, and more.

When it comes to fashion, InStyle magazine recommends pairing rich golden accessories, possible in mesh, glittery or matte finishes, with a racy red dress or a silky tank and black pants. And gold or silver ballet flats are a step above ordinary black.

What you don’t want to do, of course, is outshine the Christmas tree by wearing metallics head-to-toe.

Purple > When did all this happen? Shades ranging from soft lavender to deep plum add an unexpected twist to the same-old holiday palette. Lavender, in particular, looks great with white and silver, even if it is a knitted scarf worn with a winter white sweater and pants. Deep shades call for gold. And, for the home, purple looks refreshing with traditional greenery.

The December issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine showcases a 19th-century farmhouse near Toronto decorated for the holidays in shades of lavender.

Among the highlights: a mantel covered in fresh holiday greenery accented with pine cones and purple ornaments, with purple bows accenting a trio of black and white pictures hanging above. In the kitchen, a wreath is adorned with purple ornaments and purple ribbon; even the kitchen island is painted purple.

Shades of purple also show up in Martha Stewart Everyday collection at Kmart, where purple blown ornaments are displayed in a glass vessel and a purple berry wreath offers an alternative to traditional balsam. Who says tradition can’t be tweaked?

Trends > Recoloring The Holidays

Red And Green Get The Heave-Ho For A Change, As Bolder Hues Add A Sophisticated New Twist

This year, traditional red and green are on holiday decorating’s back shelf, replaced by elegant shades of shimmering bronze and copper, exotic mixes of burgundy and purple, mod splashes of hot pink and teal, trendy combinations of iced blue, lime, gold and orange and even black.

No question, Santa’s got a whole new bag of design tricks, says Angelo Surmelis, host of HGTV’s new show “24 Hour Design.” “In the days of neutral palettes and all white walls, the traditional Christmas red and green plaid worked. With the new emphasis on strong color in home design, that’s no longer the case,” says Surmelis, a Los Angeles interior designer. “People still want to dress up their homes at this time of the year, but they want holiday elements that complement their color scheme, not fight with it.”

Retailers have answered the demand with a range of traditional accessories fashioned in non-traditional colors. Trees, wreaths, ornaments, stockings, tableware and accessories are available in surprising hues, accented with new twists on old patterns and designs.

At T.J. Maxx stores, themes include “winter whimsy,” featuring bright colors and bold graphics; “exotic accents,” with opulent fabrics and deep, rich shades; and “elegant entertaining,” which layers crystal and silver onto a backdrop of winter white.

An elegantly slim tabletop tree fashioned of hot-pink ornaments highlights the cover of Pier 1’s Holiday Entertaining catalog, which also features three seasonal motifs, “chic chalet,” with hot pinks, deep reds and silver, polka dots and swirls; “scalandia,” featuring simple, spare designs in cool blues and lime greens; and “city of light,” a glam, eclectic, slightly retro mix of golds, browns and copper.

This year, along with more traditional holiday accents, online and catalog retailer Garnet Hill features a whimsical Funny Felt Tree, constructed of orange, green and yellow felt leaves, and a Bright Ornament Wreath and garland, each composed of glass balls in shades of gold, orange, teal and red.

Old Navy stocks its in-store Holiday Shop with striped and dotted glass ornaments in blues, silvers, limes and red.

“Depending on your space and your colors, try mixing silver and white, gold and cobalt blue, black and silver or harvest colors like rust, brown and gold,” advises Sonya Cosentini, T.J. Maxx home decorating spokeswoman. “The new palette will create a sophisticated look that complements your décor.”

Even black has become part of the holiday decor scene. Garnet Hill offers a black wool-felt tree skirt and table runner, both trimmed with vibrant embroidery and twinkling hand-stitched sequins. And black Christmas trees have made their way to these shores from Great Britain, where they were popular last season (www.christmastreeforme.com or www.seasondreams.com).

Whichever color scheme you choose, design experts say holiday must-haves include beaded or embroidered table runners in sumptuous fabrics such as velvet or damask, embroidered or beaded throw pillows in festive shades, and decorative elements such as crystal and silver. Anchor the look with fruits, pine cones, greens and masses of candles. When you’re done, step back, and add those all-important personal touches.

“Always include a touch of yourself and your family,” says Surmelis. “Be sure to tuck that pipe cleaner Santa or the ornament you made in second grade somewhere. No matter how elegant your setting is, you don’t want your house to look like a showroom. During the holidays, especially, you want it to look like home.”

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