02 January 2007

Leggings and heels...I still can't believe it.

The more I think about it, the surer I am I've made the right decision to dedicate my free time (of which I have a lot lately), to helping women like this one. Were it not for me, she might have easily been mistaken for a wayward piece of Eurotrash trying to find her way back to Georgetown. The University, that is.

Let's get started.

First, as always, the shoes. As I mentioned this morning, the girl seemed to have good taste. This pair of Marc Jacobs peeptoes is beautiful and at $360 (neimanmarcus.com), also a serious investment. I don't care if you, your Daddy, or your boss with marital issues bought these for you, stuffing your half-painted toes in the delicate bow-topped windows is just downright disrespectful. If you have the money (or the influence) to get them, then Christ, get a pedicure. And if you're going to take the plunge with a bold color like red or black (i.e. a color that goes from sophisticated to frat skank the millisecond it chips), then buy the bottle, no, buy two bottles, and keep one in your desk at work and one at home. I've had to whip out my OPI more times than I can count since I've been on my black kick. As so much of fashion is, nail polish is a if-you-wanna-wear-it-you-gotta-earn it commodity. If you want the power that comes with short red nails, you've got to maintain them. I understand, there are times when upkeep isn't an option, but on those odd days, DON'T go for the peeptoe. Don't even go for the flip-flop. It seems so clear to me. We all know that if we've got a sudden backne breakout, we don't wear the halter, we wear the v-neck. Same concept.

My two suggestions for shoes are this adorable cherry red Lauren flat by Dru ($100 at activeendeavors.com) and a plain but modern black round-toed platform pump (try Jessica Simpson's Henri pump, $72.95 at zappos.com). The reason why I prefer a red flat over a black pump has to do with the slim silhouette of the pants I discuss later on. On their own, each would be an equally smart choice for a day at the office.
My subject's legs were thinner than they were muscular but not unattractively thin. Yes, guys, I think there is such a thing. No, her legs were good. Quite good. And perfect for the skinny trend I so very much hope stays current at least through the Winter months. Instead of advocating a skinny jean, however, I think she'd benefit from something a bit dressier -- like these BCBG slim pants ($168 at bloomingdales.com). Because a skinny pant is, as one might expect, pretty darn tight, adding the flat tempers the outfit's sexiness, whereas a heel, even a demure black one, gives off an I'm-on-my-way-to-the-9:30-club look that isn't quite right for a Tuesday morning 4 blocks from the White House. My subject looked like a heel girl (we can sense our own kind), so if she was adamant about added-height, she could still do it, but she'd have no sympathy from me if that creepy divorced guy from down the hall started sending her "hey u, seen u around, wanna hang out?" messages to her MySpace account.

As I wrote this morning, I really liked the rest of her outfit. Her jewelry was hip and subtle; you'd have to look very close to see that her black onyx and silver earrings were in fact tiny skull/crossbones. And her light gray cashmere sweater with cap sleeves and baby cowlneck was really high-grade and hugged her torso just enough to show she had a flat stomach and smallish but not too smallish chest. A *perfect* fit.

As for this woman's hair, it was cute, but I would have loved to see it a bit more polished and put together. From what I could tell in her messy ponytail/chignon/bun, as the cut was, it could easily have looked like the mod-but-modern bob Nicole Richie sported this past summer. Again, I have to drop Rodney's name (Andre Chreky Salon) as the man to cut you those enviable bangs. Even if you have a stubborn middle part like I do, he bitchslaps it into submission. And it's not just for that day, it's for 'effin ever. I wouldn't joke about something this serious.

Makeup is a curious issue. The look my young woman had this morning was beautiful but not appropriate for 8:15am. On a Tuesday. In Au bon Pain. She had a smoky, smudgy cat-eye you'd swear you just saw on a pic of Scarlett Johansson standing outside TenJune at 3am. Like her legs, my subject's makeup application was pretty spectacular. Her awareness, however...not so much. I'd advise her to keep the kohl, the silvery shadow, and the liquid eyeliner in her travel makeup bag for after work (like, waaaay after work), and just do a quick thin smudge of dark gray Clinique touch tint ($14.50 at clinique.com) over a bone colored base shadow, a light swipe of black liner along the lower lid (none underneath), and dab a bit of the silver shadow around the inner part of the eyes to make them pop. Oh, and of course, mascara. One coat, not two. Her facial makeup was fine, though she would have benefited from a few extra minutes blending the foundation along her jawbone.

The most important aspect of style is also the one over which I have the least influence -- taste.

Taste is the voice that tells you to leave that shirt you love on the hanger because it's ugly. Objectively ugly. Taste is also embedded in your recognition that a dress may be hot, but "hot" is not what you wear to an office where the women are all over 45 - as in pounds overweight AND age - and resent the fact you have time to go to the gym 5 days a week.

The other women I've profiled here have all had bad style, but at least they had some taste and weren't walking around these very conservative parts in leggings and heels. Sheer leggings and heels.

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