Unconventional Collars

Unconventional Collars
Friday, March, 25, 2011 One of the things we love about fashion is experimenting and playing with runway trends that are unexpected or considered outside the norm. Sure, sometimes we'll try a few looks that don't really translate, but it's this kind of trial-and-error process that often leads us to sartorial gold, whether that's a fruit-emblazoned dress, flatforms, or something as small as an unconventional collar. Speaking of the latter, lately we've spotted a handful of stylephiles--including Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, and Fearne Cotton--spicing up their wardrobes with delightfully unusual collars that make their button-ups anything but ordinary. These intriguing accents are not only eye-catching, they're also an easy way to add visual intrigue to a relatively minimalist look, so it's no wonder we're highlighting them in today's Trend Report!

We spotted a plethora of prominent collars on the S/S 11 runways, but there were two interpretations that particularly stood out. The first look involves an embellished, crisp collar in a contrasting color, as seen at the Balenciaga show. The entire collection evoked a brilliant feminine-meets-masculine spirit, which was demonstrated via graphic-print outerwear, quilted leather moto jackets, and sleeveless, button-up shirts in mismatched neon lace. We were instantly drawn to the tops in particular, and were specifically pleased by the bold prints and cutout metal tips used on the collars, as seen on the Lace Patchwork Sleeveless Shirt (price upon request, 212.206.0872) featured above. Miu Miu, on the other hand, showed off a less hard-edged take on the unconventional collar. For this show, big-shouldered jackets, like the white leather jacket with floral motif patch detailing shown above--though this exact jacket was not produced in the US, similar styles are available, like the Nappa Laminata Patch Jacket ($2100, 212.641.2980)--were paired with box-pleated skirts and shirts with exaggerated, multi-colored collars. We particularly liked how the collar is rounded, giving it a much softer, more feminine look.

Though we're complete suckers for the exact runway examples, we can't just stop our trend analysis there! In order to properly familiarize you with this smart dressing idea, we must also examine how some of your favorite tastemakers are addressing the unconventional collar. Some--like Alexa Chung and Fearne Cotton--are opting for a subtler approach and choosing exaggerated collars with bright colors. For example, Chung looked oh-so cute in the Marc Jacobs Silk Crepe Black and Bisque Shirt Dress ($995, 212.343.1490) she wore to the French Institute Alliance Francaise's Trophee des Arts Gala in New York late last year. The collar's lively yellow hue and elongated points instantly grab your attention, and it remains the focal point of the look, thanks to Chung's well-calculated decision to keep the rest of her look in a dark color palette. Cotton, on the other hand, went for a Peter Pan-shaped collar for the celebration of her new summer collection for the exclusive online retailer Very.co.uk last week, wearing the Dip-Dye Silk Dress ($90) and Dutti Platform Shoes ($90); both of which are from her eponymous collection. The bright pink collar further accentuates the frock's ombre shading, while also complementing the look's quirky and sweet vibe, making it a prime pick for spring!

While we do enjoy Chung and Cotton's more conservative approach, it's also quite exciting to see collars in a bold print or embellished with interesting details. For example, we're absolutely mad about the dress Daisy Lowe wore to the Viktor & Rolf F/W 11 show during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month. The model looked fabulous in the Off The Shoulder Striped Silk Organza Dress ($1775)--which is from V&R's S/S 11 collection--which features a playful zebra-print collar and asymmetric hemline. The contrasting prints certainly add intrigue to this front-row-ready frock. Late last year we across another noteworthy collar, this time on Emily Browning at the 3.1 Phillip Lim S/S 11 show. The darling Australian actress was snapped wearing an outfit that blends opulence (the collar, the vibrant bag) with more austere elements. The blouse--which is from Lim's F/W 10 collection--features intricate gold beading on the collar, a small tweak that gives this classic piece a luxuriously updated look.

Now that you're caught up to speed on this quirky collar trend, it's time to shop our selection of amazing pieces--ranging from cute Peter Pan collars to edgier styles--to help you create similarly savvy looks of your own! If you're interested in recreating Chung or Cotton's pretty ensembles, we suggest checking out ASOS' Dahlia Sleeveless Collar Tea Dress ($111) and Rare's Long Sleeve Dress ($72); both are sweet options that will work for evening events. Just be sure to keep the rest of your look neutral to avoid taking the focus off the collar. Want something with a little more pizazz a la Browning's razzle-dazzle look? ASOS' Beaded Collar Belted Dress ($94), Equipment's Black Plaid Cotton Gauze Studded Collar Shirt ($199), and Mod Cloth's Solo Performance Cardigan ($90) are a few of our favorites; we love how the embellished collars give the basic pieces a modern twist. If you're looking for something less girly, Dion Lee's Metal Stay Cotton-Voile Shirt ($460), which shares Balenciaga's western-inspired spirit.--Jessica Baker

Photo of Fearne Cotton, courtesy of Splash; Photo of Saidy Lowe, courtesy of INF; Miu Miu runway photo, courtesy of First View; Balenciaga runway photo, courtesy of Balenciaga
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