Part of the fun of fashion is trying to articulate the je ne sais quoi quality that distinguishes an average outfit from a truly excellent ensemble. And while our answer to said query is still a work in progress, we do know it when we see it and are happy to share our findings with you. It is in that spirit of sartorial sharing that we present this month's installment of Who What Wear: Styling Tips. Hopefully, you will find these tidbits of wisdom as inspiring and instructive as we do!
Tip #1: Mix a nude bag and shoes with dark pieces
While attending the launch of Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden in London (a British nationwide search to discover and nurture cutting-edge design talent), Claudia Schiffer looked polished and posh when she accented a menswear-inspired outfit in basic black with of-the-moment nude accessories. By now, we're sure you all have a favorite blazer and tailored trouser; update these timeless pieces with L.A.M.B.'s Tizzy Strappy Sandal Bootie ($345) and Lauren Merkin's Caroline Clutch ($275) to get a fresh look for a spring evening out.
Tip #2: Get festive with a hot pink party dress
Leigh Lezark, one third of the DJ collective The Misshapes, occasional model, and full time hipster, is notorious for her cutting-edge style and almost exclusively dark wardrobe. Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised when the downtown doyenne slipped into Dior's Mini Smokey Bustier Dress ($9250) and Deesse Sandal ($1360, 800.929.DIOR) for the design house's F/W 09 show. The Schiaparelli pink dress added a refreshingly festive element to her normally somber evening ensembles. She looked so stellar, in fact, we quickly resolved to introduce a brightly-hued strapless party dress into our own nighttime rotation. Either French Connection's Otto Cotton Dress ($158) or Rare's Cup Tulip Dress ($110) will do the trick, just add some opaques and metallic sandals¬--like the Just Cavalli Snake Metallic Platform Sandals ($447)¬--for the Lezark look!
Tip #3: Wear trendy accessories with great basic pieces
British TV personality Alexa Chung is a true fashion all-star with a keen ability to seamlessly weave unique vintage finds with key designer pieces. During Paris Fashion Week, Chung was spotted teetering around town in Louis Vuitton's Spicy Sandals ($2790) and Savane Flight Bag ($2910, 866.VUITTON), surely the most marvelously over-the-top accessories to come out of the S/S 09 season. Chung smartly balanced the bold statement of the shoes and bag with an understated sweater dress she discovered in an anonymous boutique in Paris. So, dear readers, take note: if you are going to show off a spectacularly strong accessory or two (and we suggest that you do!) make sure to temper the look with a more basic piece. Whether you want to splurge on something like YSL's Patent Cage Belt ($495) and Cage Boot ($1590) or decide to rock Topshop's Patent Cut Out Waisted Belt ($50) and Lattice Caged Sandals ($145), don't force them to compete with an equally au courant item!
Tip #4: Belt a body-skimming top over a fitted skirt
For the Los Angeles premiere of Sugar, Jessica Alba belted a voluminous patterned Miu Miu chemise, creating a more feminine, figure-flattering shape. To give her outfit a little more interest, she layered her top over a formfitting short skirt and black tights. We love the idea of augmenting a loose blouse by adding a killer belt, such as Miu Miu's Double Buckle Belt ($370). Alba's choice is very eighties, so be sure to check out your favorite local vintage shops, or try the Ostrich Print Pintuck Blouse ($75) from Peoples Market. Don't forget to cinch above the waist, to create an empire silhouette √† la Alba.
Tip #5: Bring back your denim jacket
While moto jackets and boyfriend blazers are the reigning casual outerwear options for the fashionable crowd, there will always be a corner of our hearts reserved for a simple jean jacket. This spring, we love a fitted cropped version in a light wash, like the one spotted on actress Cecile Cassel at the Louis Vuitton A/W 09 show during Paris Fashion week. Try Urban Renewal's Studded Denim Jacket ($148) with a monochromatic dress and tights or pair it with a floral frock for a warm-weather appropriate look.
Tip #6: Try shoulder-detail tops and jackets
Love her or loathe her, everyone agrees that Agyness Deyn knows how to pull an outfit together in an interesting way. At the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 09 presentation, Deyn dabbled with the directional strong shoulder trend by donning a leather bomber jacket with ruched detailing on the shoulders and a slightly pronounced sleeve. While Deyn wore her jacket with a pink metallic dress, and combat boots, obviously the styling options abound. We think that Miu Miu's Rosette Leather Jacket ($2835) or Guess by Marciano's Legend Jacket ($248), two Deyn-inspired picks, would look just as smashing with harem pants or skinny jeans and your favorite pair of heels. ¬-Kate Mulling