Move over, little black dress! The white dress is the most worthy competitor to challenge the black dress’s longstanding dynasty. Consider how the white dress from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch (pictured left) has become synonymous with Marilyn Monroe’s iconic style. In fact, to fuel the white vs. black dress rivalry even more, Monroe’s white dress set a record in June 2011 when it was auctioned for $4.6 million—five times the previous record for a movie costume, set by Audrey Hepburn’s “little black dress” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
But one doesn’t need wind blowers a-la-Marilyn-Monroe-style to turn a white dress into statement that exudes both simplicity and elegance. While many of us regard white as a basic addition to any wardrobe, the white dress also has the uncanny ability to function as a knockout style, as the ultimate desk-to-dinner piece, or as the epitome of summery-sweet. You’ll see from our picks below that there is nothing plain or basic about the modern white dress.
Editor’s Note: Our fashion picks are meant to serve as a guide to your selections in the price points that suit your budget, and the colors, and silhouettes that best complement your unique style.
Summer Sheath Dress, by White House | Black Market
Short Dress, by Jason Wu, thecorner.com
Addie Dress, by Tory Burch
Cotton Eyelet Wrap Dress, by Ann Taylor
White Floral Pleated Broderie Anglaise Dress, by Oscar de la Renta, bergdorfgoodman.com
Here in the Northeast, temperatures have suddenly surpassed spring to plunge us all into summer-like days, reminding us that life is often on a fast track regardless of the rhythms we go by. If your wardrobe is feeling jittery and you are not quite accustomed to reconfiguring to the whims of the weather, accessories are the perfect solution to revive your wardrobe and an easy way to make a statement, however subdued.
A monochromatic palette is always a good place to start. Iconic figures such as Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Hutton made the monochromatic pantsuit a fashion staple by showing both its seductive power and femininity. Their interpretation is the essence of American sportswear, which has become a classic by today’s fashion standards. Designers like Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Phoebe Philo for French label Celine have created great examples of how softer pastels — becoming on most skin tones — project a strong aesthetic without taking away from the feminine mystique that co-exists in combining sharp lines and soft tonalities.
You can build an entire wardrobe using monochromatic looks by swapping a jacket out or inserting your favorite pair of black trousers to offset a lighter hue. Or, take a white-on-white cotton, linen, or fabric blend pant or skirt suit and accessorize with a fun sandal and floral print tote to accent the season and inject some of your personal style.
Microfiber Rain Hat, by Eric Javits, saksfifthavenue.com
And then there is jewelry! This turquoise inspired necklace is very becoming and can really add attitude to a neutral palette.
Bib Necklace, by Michael Kors, couture.zappos.com
This season there has been much talk of a 1940s revival. One way of interpreting the visual aesthetics of this bygone era is by reintroducing the matching shoe and handbag. Gucci has revisited the classic arsenal of handbags and loafers to focus on a range of brightly colored patent handbags with a signature buckle. As for the matching footwear, there are many flats, medium heel pumps, even kitten heel slingbacks or block heeled ‘Mary Janes’ to make the look your own.
Bright Bit Patent Leather Shoulder Bag, by Guccci, saksfifthavenue
‘Frame’ Moccasin, by Gucci, nordstrom.com
With the advent of spring comes a flutter of fashionable inspiration. No matter where you might find yourself, the urge to inject a pop of color or a splash of print is a natural instinct. Just like the flowers in bloom, we look to the sun and want to reflect back with a cat-like purr. This season, the designers—high and low—have given us plenty of choices. Fashion has broadened its curtain to encompass minimalist trends with the romance and whimsy of bygone eras. The Victorian age meets the future, only to recognize itself in the new millennials. What is a lady to do? Have fun with it!
Aegean Contrast-Cuff Blazer & Slim Striped Pants, by Nanette Lepore. bergdorfgoodman.com
Don your favorite straight-leg, capri, or wide-leg pant, available at any price point, with a bright-colored tunic, floral-print shirt or jacket, or even a satin top in a bright color that suits your complexion. Accessorize with a pair of flats, print wedges, or glamazon heels to express your personality.
Basic Button-Front Shirt & Baroque A-Line Skirt, by Carolina Herrera. bergdorfgoodman.com
If skirts are your preference, the prints and solids combination can work for top and bottom. What hemlines have gained in length can be offset with the longevity of a stripe or well placed slit. A flared skirt in a bold print will look very fetching with a crisp white shirt à la Carolina Herrera.
Striped Techno Twill Blazer & Pencil Skirt, by Marc Jacobs. bergdorgoodman.com
Designers are there to inspire; their creative flair serves as a guide to point our compass and interpret looks like Marc Jacobs’s bold color and white stripes. No need for the head-to-toe look; a vertical stripe–more flattering than its horizontal brethren–can work on its own as a single, signature statement, dressed up or down in a peekaboo shirt under a skirt suit, or as a cropped jacket to bring an edge to the polish of the monochromatic shirt, skirt and trouser.
A bold print or a stripe is a good choice when dressing up a look, whether you are attending a garden party or meeting with the board. At the heart of the choice is the play on proportions: Know what will fit your body well and where the emphasis should be toned down. Dries Van Noten is a master at combining prints, but it’s the volumes and light fabrics that can serve you nicely in your search for clothes that will put a spring in your stop.
5F Tops in Silk & Satin. bergdorfgoodman.com
Stiffer fabrics work, but not all the time—softer cottons, silks, or linens that move with the body are more forgiving and easier to pair up. If the new, architecturally inclined collections that received such praise in Paris last October are injecting some excitement into your femininity, begin by experimenting with a neutral or fuchsia or tangerine in shiny satin and see how much wear your closet will give it. A wardrobe gains in time, as do we!
Editor’s Note: Our fashion picks are meant to serve as a guide to your selections of the price points, colors, and silhouettes that best complement your unique style.
Marlene Dietrich in “Witness for the Prosecution” (1975) and Sophia Loren in “The Key” (1958). Image via
The trench coat is the ultimate item to have transcended its utilitarian role without loosing any of its mystique. Originally conceived as a lightweight coat for the British army by Burberry and Aquascutum, today’s trench coat is easily considered a woman’s secret outer weapon. It has the power to impart sexuality and danger without losing any of the irony the stars of the Hollywood classic films projected on the silver screen.
The 1940s wartime suspense movies were the apex of glamour. The trench coat embodied and emboldened a sense of threat that went beyond wind and rain. We wonder: would Marlene Dietrich be so dangerous and alluring if she hadn’t tied the knot at the waist and turned up the collar in the 1948 classic A Foreign Affair? Arguably, it was the trench coat that sealed the deal for Dietrich’s legendary allure.
Sofia Lauren’s earthy sexuality is all the more appealing in this classic look (pictured above) from the late 1950s. The double-breasted khaki trench is buttoned and belted, and the upturned collar sets off the knot of her head-scarf, to emphasize her luminous sensuality.
By the early 1960s Audrey Hepburn had captivated audiences with her beauty. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s she is every girl’s New York story, the ingénue with a trick up her sleeve. Her trench coat look combines vulnerability with a playful sense of adventure. The cat will ultimately bring her and George Peppard together, but it’s the trench that sends out all the right signals.
George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961). Image via
There are many ways to wear a trench coat, but the winning combination is always about attitude. As a versatile all-purpose utilitarian, the trench coat has the potential to channel the danger, allure, mystery, and sensuality in all of us. The iconic look hasn’t lost any of its appeal from its days of classic Hollywood.
Editor’s Note: Here are our favorite picks for trench coats this season, each with just the right blend of classic and contemporary. Our picks are meant to serve as a guide to your selections of the price points, colors, and silhouettes that best complement your unique style.
Khaki Mid-Length Cotton Gabardine Courtdale Trench Coat, by Burberry London. stylebop.com
Posh Cotton Green Trench Coat, by Karen Millen. karenmillennow.com
Faux Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Twill Trench Coat, by Helene Berman theoutnet.com
Cotton Blend Trench Coat, by Derek Lam. farfetch.com
Spring Trench, by Boden. boden.com
For those of us still bracing winter temperatures (even though the calendar says it’s spring), floral prints are just the right thing to usher in our warm-weather escapism. This season, we don’t want you to just walk into spring, we advise you to strut right into it—with style. And nothing says spring more than a coat inspired by flowers. Esther Adams of Vogue reminds us that floral designs are at the heart of the “. . . feminine (a bouquet is, after all, the ultimate symbol of romance); [and] a colorful floral print makes a strong statement.” As we welcome the new season, we share some serious flower power with you with pieces that tap into a variety of price points, colors, patterns, styles, and, of course, petal types.
(Portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee in floor-length floral coat. Image via Wikipedia)
Elodia Floral Print Coat, by Weekend by MaxMara. matchesfashion.com
Water Repellent Classic Trench Coat, by Merona. target.com
Red Belted Floral Print Trench Coat, by Valentino. farfetch.com
Blue Floral Bouclé Coat, by Topshop. topshop.com
Double Breasted Trench Coat, by Isaac Mizrahi. qvc.com
Last month I attended quite a few shows at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. While there is always a variety of trends from the tents, the overriding theme for fall was the timeless marriage of black and white. Whether concentrating on one of these neutrals head to toe in a mix of materials, color-blocked together or in graphic patterns like houndstooth, the perennial classic is back big time for fall. The good news about knowing what lies ahead is that you can plan what in your closet you might want to keep or donate as well as take advantage of current sales that might complete a look for the season. Let’s take a peek at a few of the looks from designers whose creations will be serving as inspiration for many of the more reasonably priced lines.
Here Ralph Rucci combines fabulous leather lace and cashmere in this elegant ensemble. The mix of luxurious materials was a hallmark of many collections and easy to replicate within your own closet.
Sheer fabrications continue to trend for fall, as seen in the elegant back of this Ralph Rucci confection.
When it comes time to consider fall entertaining and holiday affairs, be sure to pull out or purchase any flowing silks or chiffons with sparkle aplenty—a look seen at the beautiful Jenny Packham show.
While few of us can afford the extravagance of J. Mendel, we can certainly be inspired by his exquisite collection. Be on the lookout for examples of beautiful beading . . .
. . . and the pairing of sumptuous fabric—a wonderful idea for any black-tie event.
Winter white is an elegant option, as seen at Carolina Herrera. Whether you are sporting separates or wearing a gown, there will be a plethora of pretty examples by the end of summer as the collections start rolling in.
Fur is here to stay for another year. Whether real or fun fake, it was featured in almost every show as an outerwear option or trim. And don’t forget to consider it as an accessory—a scarf, muff, or hat is a great way to get in on the action. This knitted fox vest at J. Mendel is a perfect example of how to combine two trends at once, and a perfect example of how to dress up classic basics.
Graphic pattern galore was seen across the board, including versions of haberdashery staples such as herringbone and houndstooth. Here, a blown-up version at Michael Kors made a dramatic statement. Consider even shopping the men’s or boy’s stores if you don’t find great examples in your department.
And in closing, while these high-end designers provide the direction for the season, you will be able to find these trends at all price points. J. Crew, who for the last few seasons has made a presentation at Fashion Week, showed a fantastic collection. With a broader range of customers in mind, it offered many fabulous classic-with-a-twist selections to choose from. These two looks show the black-and-white theme in casual-chic mode.
I am seriously considering the wonderful coat, which could easily transition from day to evening and has that mildly ethnic appeal that is also continuing through the season. Don’t forget to check out J. Crew’s wonderful line of accessories, even wearing two necklaces at once, as shown here, for statement allure.
Even the smallest additions can make an outfit sing like this charming minaudière.
So just remember—black and white is always right, especially for the coming fall/winter fashion season!
Photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence.
Earlier this month, we ushered in the Year of the Snake with Chinese New Year’s celebrations around the globe. So we thought it would be fun to share ways of incorporating the stylish style of the sinuous snake into your wardrobe this year.
And, anyone who wants some glamorous reptilian inspiration need only stop by Bulgari in New York City. Through March 6 in the New York flagship store at 730 Fifth Avenue, the luxury firm will be showcasing their historic Serpenti jewels including snake bracelets, belts, watches and rings made by Bulgari in last 70 years. Gems include this stunning bracelet watch from 1967, pictured above. The exhibit also includes images of famous fashion icons wearing the pieces such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marisa Berenson and Veruschka. For more information on the “SERPENTI: Eternal Beauty” exhibition visit Bulgari.com.
Everlasting Loop Snake Skin Scarf
Mini Edie Purse
alice + olivia
Box Pleated Red Leather Skirt
Black Suede Wedge Tall Boot
Ivory Crochet Trim Cardigan
Rather than waiting for our significant others to present us with the perfect token of their idea of affection on this upcoming holiday of love, we thought we’d make a wishlist here to offer up some suggestions.
Cashmere Short Robe
This sultry red robe is the epitome of lounging in style. It’s cut right at the knee, is 100% cashmere, features and self-tie belt and above all, is luxurious as it is comfortable. Whether you’re working from home on a snowy morning or unwinding with a cup of tea after a long day, this is the kind of robe that ushers in serenity and warmth.
Leather iPad Case
Let’s be honest, carrying around an iPad these days is like carrying a phone–it’s essential. Fashionable as it is functional, this leather iPad case from CaseCrown has a simple and classy design and offers great protection for your cherished iPad. The cover flips back to transform into a hands-free viewing stand. Best of all, it’s compact–so you can slip it into your handbag without the worry of carrying a bulky case.
Tom Ford Natalia Bag
The Tom Ford bags have remained a bit under the radar (perhaps due to price points) but for wishlist appeal, this uber chic patent Natalia bag can’t be beat. The medium size is big enough to hold the essentials but still not too large to take to dinner. With a removable or convertible strap, it can go from shoulder bag to tailored hand bag to clutch in a nano second. And of course the signature hardware gives it its glam elan.
Taigan Opera Shawl
Accessories are always the easiest way to add a little dash to your wardrobe. So even if you wanted to wear your little black dress out for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, this smocked and ruffled Opera Shawl will add a little spice and warmth to the evening.
For those of you who have been diligent about shaping up after the holidays, you might just deserve a little reward. This stretch red leather skirt will show off your hard work in style. And because it’s so lightweight, it can take you right into the warmer weather that we can all hope is coming soon!
I managed to get the local GP to give me a note excusing me from gym PERMANENTLY after my first horrifying day in my rural-Kentucky public high school phys ed class. I was thin and bookish and just thirteen. First I had to undress in an open locker room and then put on rough navy blue bloomer outfits worn with athletic socks and Keds. I had no breasts and no hair that wasn’t on my head, and I was freaked out by all the hormonally altered big girls in my class. And that was before I entered the chamber of torture known as a gymnasium.
The health teacher was also the phys ed teacher, and my, my, wasn’t she just full of move move move!!! She had a whistle that she blew when we were to move move move in another direction. This woman honestly expected me to run up and down bleacher stairs. And she then expected me to participate in a game of volleyball, where those Amazons in my class tried to kill me by knocking the ball over the net with the kind of force I had never seen before. Needless to say, I ducked and put my hands over my face whenever the ball came my way. And I simply walked those bleacher stairs. I was not going to sweat, and I certainly did not want to fall. The phys ed teacher was extremely unhappy with my lack of interest and participation, even though I explained very thoroughly that I had always been frail and not everyone was meant to do this sort of activity. The post-exercise group showering and changing back into school clothes was even worse than the initial disrobing, since everyone (but me) smelled of sweat.
I called my favorite GP that day and told him that he simply had to get me out of gym class or I would drop out of school. I remember that he asked what he should write that would allow me to be permanently excused from the compulsory exercise program. “Frail. She is frail and anxious and has a fear of balls hitting her,” were my instructions. “It is the truth. Plus, those outfits itch and are ugly.”
I was excused, permanently, from gym. The health/phys ed teacher was pleased. My classmates were delighted that they had something else to torture me with. It worked out just fine.
I have been working out with personal trainers since I entered my forties. Exercise and sweating were never appealing to me, but toned arms, abs, and legs sounded good. But I could never find anything comfortable and attractive to wear. Finally I settled on Danskin tights and a series of white stretch T-shirts covered by a knit top without sleeves in various attractive colors. Sort of like scrubs in the OR. But there was only so much I could do with those, either.
Exercise clothes have become very big fashion moneymakers now. But I still look at most of them with a baleful eye. These are my choices for the outfits no one should ever wear in a public gym.
Cleavage-baring tops. The treadmill or the yoga mat is no place for cleavage. Wardrobe-malfunction fears would keep me from lifting those five-pound weights over my head!
Pants that cause camel toe! And I see these on the street and in the airport all the time. These are really leggings, not exercise pants, and should have a top that covers the pelvic area, at least. And this fashion advice applies to girls and women of all ages.
Midriff-short tops that expose the belly. The utterly fit fifteen-year-old dancer/model in this outfit looks great. But how many of us have abs like this at any age?
Mid-calf tights hit my leg at just the wrong place, emphasizing the infamous “cankle” that I certainly have.
Low-rise tights: Who wants to stretch and show off the skin on her butt? And this style always gets too-close-for -comfort to the genital tissue as well. No one but a gynecologist would tell you this.
Winter was made for wearing white. So throw away that old-fashioned rule that you can’t wear white after Labor Day and don these luxurious and timeless classics. We’ve picked five of our favorite winter whites from the online shops to get you inspired. From a lovely tote to the essential chunky sweater, these will, we hope, remind you of the beauty of winter white wonderlands.
Valextra: Large B-Shopping East/West Tote
A winter white bag can easily segue into spring and is an elegant contrast to the ubiquitous black seen throughout the colder months. The Valextra brand is Italy’s answer to Hermès. And this large B-shopping East/West Tote is a great size and style; it can be a workhorse by day and still look tailored enough for dinner out.
Milly: Seamed Leather Shell
Ralph Lauren: Double-Faced Wool Crepe Dress
Every woman should own a wool crepe dress, especially in the new stretch variations. It has great flow, its light weight works for nine months of the year, and it travels beautifully. This lovely Ralph Lauren double-faced wool crepe dress, with its flattering feminine lines, is so elegant in winter white. Wear it in the winter with opaque black tights and booties for a more fashion forward look, and then go classic in spring, as shown here, with sandals or a ladylike pump. This is the kind of dress that could work wonders in your wardrobe for years.
Trina Turk: Chunky Cable Knit Nordic Sweater
What would winter be without the chunky white sweater? This 100 percent wool version is the essence of femininity and warmth. It is blizzard-ready and fireside chic. Yes, it’s weather-appropriate, but pair it up with a nude pant or skirt for a sophisticated day look.
Striking, isn’t it? This Saint Laurent clutch, with its simple lines and elegant touch of gold, is an everyday clutch bag for today, tomorrow, and forever. It’s timeless, and will be clutchable way past winter. Feel free to carry it long into the spring months.
RELATED: Fall Accessories—the Clutch
After the holiday and New Year’s celebrations, January ushers in the incredibly fabulous sales. If you didn’t get everything on your wish list for the holidays, we’ve picked a few of our favorites from across the Web. So snag these last few coveted items! Here at Women’s Voices we love a good sale. But since these are sale items, sizes are limited. So before you purchase, be sure to check the return policies.
Moschino Cheap and Chic
Bouclé wool coat
Tie-Neck Silk Blouse
“Sheer was a big trend seen on the runways for spring. This classic Valentino blouse would be a timeless feminine addition to any wardrobe. Whether worn as shown with a forward-looking leather skirt, classic evening suit, or any number of staples in your wardrobe, this piece can stand the test of time.”
Kara by Kara Ross
Ring Lizard Cuff Bracelet
Dolce & Gabbana
Macramé lace dress
“We loved this Black Cocktail Dress and featured it in our Ode to Black fashion post in this year’s Black Friday post. We’re loving it even more now that it’s part of the January sales! It allows you to show just enough skin by opting for a touch of lace. The seduction of black, coupled with the allure of lace, makes for a glamorous and decadent statement.”
RELATED: An Ode to Black on Black Friday
Z Spoke Zac Posen
Veronica Banded Plum Clutch
“Send a mixed-media message with this suede and leather clutch. Texture- and color-rich, with bold leather bands, this plum clutch is sized for day-to-night.”
RELATED: Fall Accessories—The Clutch
It’s undoubtedly a special moment—saying goodbye to and being thankful for the past year and then welcoming the coming year. Whether you’re spending New Year’s Eve in an intimate gathering with family, or at a glamorous gala, or in a place of faith with neighbors and friends, we’ve picked some fabulous looks that set the right tone of style as you usher in 2013.
Oscar de la Renta pleated silk-blend lamé maxi skirt
Marni embellished cashmere sweater
“This outfit whispers the kind of understated elegance that’s just right for a New Year’s Eve house party. Comfortable and easy, it has that certain laissez faire glamour that intimates you didn’t try too hard yet are perfectly chic for the occasion.”
The Black Tie Affair
MaxMara feather embellished one shoulder column dress
“For a dressy New Year’s Eve affair, this elegant Max Mara gown is on trend with a one shoulder column silhouette and feather embellishment. Yet it is classic enough to work for years to come. Add strappy metallic sandals, a sparkling minaudiere and a voluminous wrap and you’re good to go.”
The Midnight Church Service
Suno classic tailored dress
“This classic tailored metallic dress with gold and silver stripes is a perfect balance of New Year’s Eve glamour and sophistication—just right for ringing in the New Year in a sacred place.”
At Women’s Voices we dedicate our time to advancing and advocating for women. But we still recognize the significant roles that the men we love—be they our partners, husbands, brothers, sons, friends, or colleagues—play in our lives all year long. So, for the men on our list, here are our editors’ holiday picks for gifts that are fun, thoughtful, stylish, and sure to send a message that the recipients are loved, admired, and appreciated.
Leather Excursion Messenger Bag
“Say goodbye to the boring briefcase or laptop bag. This is an everyday work bag with sophistication and intrigue, and it also doubles as travel companion that is both functional and attractive.”
Crosley Lancaster Turntable
“Dust off those records, cassettes, and CDs, because this thing of beauty will renew your relationship with all those ‘antiquated’ modes of music. This machine plays them all—and even hooks up to your iPod/Mp3 player. We love the antique look and feel of this throwback to the good ol’ days.”
“For the eco-conscious man, this watch, made from red wing celtis and maple natural wood remnants, is perfect. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving: For every watch purchased, a new tree will be planted to help ensure a green future.”
Liquid Flow Shorts
“The ultimate ‘do-anything, go-anywhere’ shorts for the active guy. Go straight from the the golf course or running errands in town to the pool or beach in these ultra-lightweight, fast-drying shorts. With their zip pocket and small waterproof pouch, they are the most versatile warm-weather gear he’ll ever own.”
DETAILS Men’s Style Manual
“Is your guy looking to up his style quotient, but not quite sure where to start? This volume might just be the answer—”a sophisticated wardrobe guide for men offering head-to-toe advice for choosing the right look, the right fit, and the right style for every situation, from boardroom pitches to casual Saturday nights.”
Our fun-holiday series is a virtual wish-list featuring five fashionable picks by some of our stylish friends who would love to see these goodies under their own tree. This week, Susanna Salk has made her list, checked it twice, and is sharing it with us and Santa.
Susanna is a contributing editor on design to 1stdibs.com and ivillage.com and appears regularly on NBC’s Today to discuss design style for the home. In earlier years, she helped launch Elle Decor as Interior Design Manager and later became a contributing editor. Susanna also served as the Special Projects Editor for House & Garden magazine. She is an accomplished writer on design: Her latest book, “C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon,” will be published in April 2013.
Project Alabama Goldleaf Cocktail Dress
“. . .because everyone needs an affordable showstopper dress in her life!”
Ted Muehling Black Lace Earrings
“Santa, if I may be so bold . . . I have been lusting after these sumptuous Ted Muehling Lace Earrings ever since I saw them on Kate Spade. Could this this be the year?”
Oscar de la Renta Grande Tweed Paillette Embroidered Dress
“This tweed embroidered dress from Oscar de la Renta is unexpectedly whimsical while still appropriate for the fussiest of ladies’ lunches.”
Authier Quilted Jacket
“This parka has sex appeal and comfort in spades. If I was skiing in Gstaad over New Year’s, this is what I would wear. The olive color in so yummy.”
Jimmy Choo Rabbit Fur & Leather Biker Boot
“I think even I might be able to rock these Jimmy Choo rabbit lined leather biker boots, especially on the weekend with jeans tucked in. I’d lighten the load up by pairing them with a feminine blouse. And did I mention that these would look perfect with the Ted Muehling lace earrings?”