30 July 2007

When black/white falls flat...twice

Two beautiful women with toned, healthy figures, both of whom went down the ASJINE-endorsed path of neutral, simple and elegant, but as you can see below, in a very not ASJINE-advised fashion.

As I've stated many a time on this site, dressing neutrally is neither a guaranteed pass into the ranks of the sophisticated nor does it grant the wearer immunity from a WTF critique.

On Jennifer Garner (here in vintage Balenciaga at The Bourne Ultimatum premiere), a woman with admittedly broad athletic shoulders, the first and last impression she makes is one of looking more mannish than Sydney-Bristow-sexy, namely because of the wide, high boatneck neckline. Compounding Jen's problems is the straight-up-and-down silhouette of the dress, which draws unnecessary attention to how curve-free she has become in recent years.

Were I she, I would have chosen a cut up-top that bared her clavicle or perhaps a touch of cleavage -- something that would remind us she's both athletic and feminine. On the bottom, I would have gone with a more voluminous silhouette, perhaps a tulip, bubble or even just a simple A-line. The straight-edge of the bodice transitioning into an away-from-the-body skirt would have provided Ms. Boy Hips with some womanly contours.

Onto Catherine (here in Michael Kors, exiting the "Live! with Regis & Kelly" set).

There are few women as stunning as she is and even fewer who, at almost 40, have a body that without regular exercise - her claim, not mine - look as simultaneously slim and curvy as hers.

But unfortunately, in this black tank sheath with white empire-waist cinch, Ms. Zeta Jones looks more dumpy and droopy than the younger, hotter half of Hollywood's most glamorous May-December couple. Clearly, the bra - if there even is one - is my first bone of contention; whether it's achieved through a separate undergarment or sturdy, built-in boning, that nursed-two-children bosom requires a minimum two to three inch hoist before leaving the house. Non-negotiable.

From this angle, it looks as if Catherine's has a bit of a paunch, which, if that's how she likes to roll, that's how she likes to roll. No judgment there. But if that is the case, and the roundness in her belly is not simply the result of a paparazzo's good luck in catching the actress in the throes of a deep exhale, the decision to situate a belt just below her DDs was not a figure-flattering one. Not only does the color and placement of the cinch enhance the stomach bulge below, but for heaven's sake, her heaving breasts are in a full-swing tumble over the top and sides of it as well. What looked tight and voluptuous just days before in fitted gold Hervé Léger, here looks soft, unsupported and dare I say, a bit amateurish.

Were I in her stylist's position, I would have first advised her to wear the proper underpinnings (including Spanx) and second, chosen a dress with both a showpiece neckline to draw attention upwards to her by far best asset - her face - and one that had a waist-level cinch to accentuate her curves. The rest of it, her hair, her simple jewelery, her understated five-digit crocodile bag, the self-satisfied smile -- all well done.

But flats, Catherine? Really?


anna said...

I personally like the black and white look and have noticed it in tons of magazines for the fall and at the fall preview sales. Lord and Taylor has a ton of black and white combos - from dresses to pair tops and bottoms. I guess it depends on what part of your body you are trying to emphasize and what part you are trying to hide...

Lindsay said...

I actually think Catherine's shoes are the Marc Jacobs High Heel Gem Pumps from the Spring 2007 line.

Anonymous said...

maybe it's not her best dress, but i still think catherine zeta jones looks gorgeous.

Johanna said...


I love the black/white palette, too; the point of this post was to make clear that even though it may *look* simple, pulling off a black/white ensemble is anything but. Just like any other color combination, a self-imposed body evaluation is still the first step.


Hmmm...I keep seeing flats (no calf flexing!), but you sound like you know what you're talking about, so I'll concede this round. Next time, however, I want photographic evidence!


Agreed, from the shoulders up and the torso to the ankles, she is divine, one of Hollywood's true sultry beauties.

Lady Tiara said...

i agree that both outfits are a miss, but i love both pairs of shoes. (i can't tell if CZJ's are flats or not though. either way, i like them.)

bff in chicago said...

Jennifer Garner is one of those women who just looks better in casual clothes. She is so out of place here in this picture. She looks like what I imagined Kristy from the Babysitters Club might've looked like in a dress. Not good.

sarahsouth said...

it's so sad to see hollywood royalty looking only 99% perfect... i think they look fab. but then again, i shop at target.

Cynthia said...

bff in chicago, that could quite possibly be the greatest pop culture/fashion analogy of all time. I tip my Philip Treacy to you.