In this, our third Fashion Friday article, Michele Oka Doner offers her counsel on how to stay stylish in midwinter. Oka Doner is an internationally acclaimed artist whose prolific career spans four decades. Her work is fueled by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world, from which she derives her formal vocabulary.


My all-year-round basic is a long silk dress. I love the fabric, have them in several colors, and wear these signature pieces throughout the year. The neckline frames my face in a way that I especially like. I was in Doha to celebrate the opening of an art canopy in the center of a new shopping center, Modern Home—the largest shopping center in the Middle East—when this photograph was taken. These dresses are great for travel; they require no fuss when unpacked and worn. Hanro undershirts. These are the most important items in my wardrobe; I collect them in cotton, silk, and wool, layering them according to the changing weather. When I dress in the winter, I put a light silk camisole on first and then add a wool undershirt. On a very cold day, I also add a TSE cashmere camisole (right).   A pashmina or silk scarf. The second-most- important item—again an all-year necessity—is a pashmina or silk scarf. Whether I’m feeling a blast of air conditioning or the North Wind, I’m always ready with a scarf thrown casually over my shoulders.
Wraps and capes are the adornment. I tend to do without accessories. Less to think about! I wear oversize sweaters or long silk dresses all year long. A cape works well over them for casual elegance. No belts, buttons, zippers to replace or maintain. (TSE Cashmere Wrap) Low maintenance is a priority. However, that means I need to consider the beauty of the fabrics I choose to wear, as they are the stars. (Loro Piana Cape)
Comfortable but stylish black boots are mandatory. A chunky heel allows me to run for that taxi! I always add a rubber sole at the shoe repair shop. A good shoe repair is a winter must. A jar of vinegar to remove the salt is always close at hand for small touchups. Jil Sander boots (left) Lucky Brand boots from Bloomingdale’s (right).
  Leather handbags make sense. Cold weather and metals don’t go together, in my book. No metal handles on the handbag; just leather, please! (Amerileather tote)
Pearls in winter. No metal jewelry. It all goes into the drawer, and pearls come out on the dresser top. Since pearls pick up our body warmth, a circle of pearls around the neck serves as a second scarf!  (Mikimoto Pearls, left; Carolee Pearls, right.)
Pearl drop earrings also brighten all of the black I tend to wear. Finally, pearls remind me of my inner mermaid in the freezing weather! (Alexis Bittar Pearl Drop Earrings, left; Carolee Pearl Drop Earrings, right.)



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  • L Sorensen-Jolink February 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Michele Oka Doner’s choice of winter essentials really resonate with me, particularly her year-round basic dress If that long silk dress with the beautiful draping is available to the public, where can I find it? I’d love to take a closer look! Thank you.

  • pgaye tapp January 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    The hanro layers are a great addition for year round-love them pgt

  • b.elliott January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I agree that building one’s wardrobe using Hanro underpinnings is a superior concept. Although these items are dear, they can be frequently found on sale. I once gave a friend “4-tees” for her 40th birthday. This present was a big hit!

  • Dr Pat Allen January 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Michele has such perfect pitch for everything in nature and in art. It is not surprising that she would adorn herself in beautiful and original dress. I always adore seeing her in the signature Oka Donor drapped silk dress. And that neckline! Divine.

    Dr. Pat