Happy New Year to CharityDO readers.
I hope you have had the most wonderful and relaxing holiday season filled with love, family and friends.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions (as I usually break them) but this year I’m doing something new – actually a lot of things news. I’m making 2015 the year for a ‘new me’. A healthier, stronger and braver version who is going to dive out of her comfort zone, face fears and break some rules.
Sounds exhausting! But it’s time for a challenge and a new fashion voice and I’m ready to give 2015 a red-hot go. How about you?
January is not only an exciting time of new beginnings – in the fashion world it’s the much-anticipated time for the Spring-Summer haute couture collections. So to give you some style-inspiration for your upcoming charity events, I’m featuring my favourite collection from fashion week so far and one that signified a ‘new way’ for the designer.
Chanel Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2015 collection – just the sound of it makes me ‘fashion giddy’.
After watching the show I felt amazed and moved in equal measure. Amazed at Karl Lagerfeld’s continued ability to conceptualise his fantasies and dreams in fabric and design, and moved that the beauty and artistry that is haute couture remains, thankfully, still in existence.
A few words here won’t convey the sheer brilliance of this collection. To fully appreciate and understand the essence of the collection, you must view it in its entirety on www.chanel.com.
Here is a snapshot. After nearly a year in the making, the fashion stage is set with a grey and barren tropical garden, origami style, in a futuristic city where the trees and flowers have long died from some apocalyptic event.
The show commences with Chanel’s muse, Baptiste Giabiconi, as a gardener in Tom Sawyer-esque garb who waters the garden from a CC-branded watering can and viola the dead blooms come alive and colour and life burst onto the stage.
Monsieur Lagerfeld said the show came to him “one morning in bed, I saw it in a second” and from this flash of genius came the futuristic garden that he wove into this stunning collection.
Instead of Chanel’s usual black and white, Monsieur Lagerfeld said that “something was in the air” and instead he chose strong colours, the colour of flowers, for the collection.
Lagerfeld’s 21st century modern twist on classical Chanel took form with a floral theme in graceful movement.
With an uncanny ability to keep his talented fingers firmly on the modern pulse, Monsieur Lagerfeld gave the collection into a 21st century feel interspersed with the classic Chanel. A stroke of brilliance that will appeal to 20-something It-Girls and to his long-standing clientele.
The classic tweed suit came with a hip twist – lavish fringing, floral trims, shorter jackets that bare the midriff, and slouchy midi skirts.
It-Girls will love the low-slung belted sequin ballerina skirts (SO beautiful) and his established clients will fight for the pink sequin princess coats. Accessories were hip too with beanies, sock booties and long patent leather belts. A classic shape also got ‘Channeled’ – a wide-brimmed ‘Lady of the Manor’ hat covered with tulle.
But the best of all were Lagerfeld’s flowers that adorned everything from jackets to skirts, shrugs and beanies. Rich with colour, crystals and sequins, the floral artistry of this show was unbelievable. The wearer will surely feel as if they have shrouded themselves in a beautiful floral garden.
The finale featured a bride in a dress that takes your breath away. The floral bridal train took 15 seamstresses to make and untold hours. The bride was followed by four ‘gardeners’ (Tom Sawyer again) as bridesmaids carrying tropical bouquets.
Welcome to Karl Lagerfeld’s world of fashion genius. Breathtaking.
“Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he’s well dressed. There ain’t much credit in that.”
- Charles Dickens
Whilst the ladies take most of the style-glory on race day, men are upping the ante in the style stakes on race days.
Thankfully for men, dressing for the races is a little easier with fewer rules to follow. Here are some simple style tips for the well-dressed man at race day:
- Dress for the occasion – you’re not dressing for the office so add a little glamour and sophistication to race-day suiting.
- Mix it up – if a suit is your daily uniform, opt for a smart blazer pant instead.
- Shirt sense – race days are the time for men to choose shirts in bolder colours and prints.
- Accessories maketh the man. Just like the fillies, accessorising makes or breaks race-day style. Attention to detail is important. At a minimum, a good shoe, belt, and pocket square is a must, but if you want to step up your style-game add a lapel pin, tie clip, bow tie or cuff links.
- Be well groomed. A hair cut and shave is essential race-day grooming. For those men with beards, manscaping is also essential.
- Well matched – co-ordinate an element from your partner’s outfit, e.g. colour in your tie or pocket square.
- Finishing touch – for some men, a hat is style-du-jour on race-day. A trilby or fedora perfect race-day styles.
SPRING RACING SUITING
Raise your style stakes for Spring racing with the latest fashion trends.
To make a statement trackside, a bold check in a modern constrasting colour makes a statement.
A contrasting blazer and pant is a major summer trend. Elevate the look to formal with a luxurious slim-fit dress pant and smart pair or shoes.
Light-weight suits are perfect for the Aussie heat. Choose from cool shades of pale blue, beige and soft grey.
We see a return of the slim line suit this summer. A well-cut slim line suit makes an elegant and modern statement. For men with larger frames the slim line suit is not the best option, choose a classic style instead.
‘Culottes’ a simple word but which often strikes fear into the hearts of multitudes of women. But fear not. Style culottes correctly and they are a versatile and stylish option that work across the seasons.
That latest trend to hit the runways for this Spring/Summer is the culotte.
Culottes are usually described as “a split or divided skirt or any garment which hangs like a skirt, but is actually pants”. The fashion-set call them “wide-legged cropped pants” but whichever term you prefer, the culotte is a versatile and flattering option for women of all ages, shapes and sizes and a stylish choice for the many upcoming charity events listed on the CharityDos website.
Here are my style tips for how to wear and style culottes:
- NO FEAR: Approach wearing culottes like an A-line skirt and wear them that way. Easy.
- LENGTH: My most important style tip for ‘real women’ wearing a culotte is the length. The most flattering and versatile style sits on the lower calf which gives the appearance of a slimmer and longer legs.
- STYLE: Again for ‘real women’ the most flattering style of culotte is a softer, more voluminous style, like a skirt. If you’re taller and slimmer, various lengths and styles will suit.
- HEEL HEIGHT: Yes, the fashion trend for summer is flat sandals and brogues, and for the young and trendy go for it, but for ‘real women’ I recommend wearing your culotte with a mid or high-heeled shoe in softer, feminine styles such as ankle-straps or t-bars.
- BALANCE: For most women, the key to wearing a culotte is to balance the volume down below with sleeker top. A slim-fit crisp white shirt, a fitted tee, or a defined jacket is the perfect balance.
- STYLING TIPS: With the balance rule in mind, choose a style that suits your lifestyle or event. Are you going to a smart lunch? Opt for a crisper, classic style paired with a fitted jacket or cotton shirt. Attending a friend’s BBQ? A softer, more feminine version in a print or floral is perfect. Do you want to be directional and on-trend? Go for a wider-leg styled with short crop top.
Wear your culottes with confidence and attitude (like Ms Beckham) and they are a fashionable and functional option for your wardrobe all year round.
Just who invented the cocktail party is up for debate. Americans claim the invention as their own when in 1917 a Mrs Julius S Walsh of St Louis, Missouri, invited 50 guests to her house on a Sunday for a one-hour soiree after which a St Louis newspaper reported that “the party was an instant hit and within weeks cocktail parties had become a St Louis institution”. On the other hand, there is also suggestion that it’s origins date back to 1798 when the word was first used in a London newspaper.
Regardless of it’s origin, the fact of the matter is that what to wear is the crucial element in attending a charity cocktail party.
With the variety of upcoming day and evening charity cocktail events listed on the Charity Do’s website, it’s timely that the old rule of wearing a perfect knee-length dress and chic clutch is no longer de rigueur.
Fashion’s hierarchy is setting new rules for cocktail party dressing and you can shake it up and stir the style pot when choosing your ensemble – just remember the two key words for cocktail dress code, “elegance” and “dressy”, and you won’t put a red-soled foot wrong.
So what do you wear to a charity cocktail party? Firstly consider the type of event, is it:
- a day or evening event?
- modern or traditional?
- formal or a little more relaxed?
Secondly, consider your moda-operandi – to frock or not to frock? Consider this tidbit of fashion history relating to the invention of the cocktail dress when making your choice; cocktail fashion for women began in the 1920’s marking a shift in their social role with a new-found freedom which came about from taking jobs in the First World War and from their ability to vote. Their liberty was said to have been expressed by dress, with shorter hairstyles and shorter hemlines.
So if you wish to adhere to nearly 100 years of style tradition and frock up for the occasion, the style of dress is perfectly explained by fashion’s ultimate style authority, Vogue:
“A cocktail dress can be many things—embellished or plain, jewel-toned or black, sleeveless or strapped, decollete or covered-up but it can never be long. Its abbreviated length is its defining characteristic, and what sets it apart from formal dresses that deliver codified glamour head-to-toe”.
Well said, thank you Vogue and point taken – formal wear including floor length gowns and tuxedos are not cocktail party etiquette.
So how to choose your cocktail dress? Here are some style tips:
- The classic sheath dress or LBD to the knee remains the perennial favourite and is the epitome of lady-like elegance. Modernize the look with a lace-embellished version.
- Peplum styles are also perfect for adding extra style élan
- If you want to add a little sass and sexiness (but not too much), opt for a fit-and-flare style or if you have great legs, choose a shorter style above-the-knee
- For evening parties, add maximum amounts of glamour and shine with sequins, embellishments and lots of bling.
- Fabrics such as lace, silks and chiffons are great for daytime events. Eye-catching prints or delicate florals can add style-wattage as does monochrome looks that is so on-trend now.
- Evening is the time for sequins, flounces and embellishments in either sleeker sheath-style dresses or softer more fluid options
Pretty cocktail style for day:
Glamourous evening styles:
Alternate Styles for Cocktail Party Dressing
On the other hand, if you want to shake it up a little and opt away from the traditional frock, choose from a number of styles:
- Soft and fluid wide-legged pants teamed with a soft blouse and jacket is perfect for day or night. If it’s an evening party, opt for a sequinned jacket.
- A jumpsuit is a great way to modernise cocktail dressing. For day choose a softer style with wider-leg pant, for evening choose a sexy fitted style with strappy sky-high heels.
- A beautifully cut suit is a great (and comfortable) choice for evening cocktail dressing. Rev it up with a bright colour such as siren red or fuscia pink and pair with a beautiful evening sandal or jeweled pump.
For day, beware too much bling – perhaps a lovely set of crystal earrings and elegant bracelets or cuffs. A cocktail ring adds a little glamour to day dressing and of course, pearls are perfect for day or night.
Evening soirees demand show-stopping jewellery so up the ante and go for maximum (but elegant) shine.
An elegant shoe with slim heel is your best choice and the perfect piece de resistance for both day and night cocktail parties is an elegant minaudière
Whether your choice is a fabulous frock or more contemporary style remember to let your personality define your look and you can’t go wrong.
I leave you with a quote from novelist F. Scott Fitgerald who wrote “what kicked off the Jazz Age was the general decision to be amused that began with the cocktail parties of 1921.”