Separates that pull party looks together
Last week, in our continuing saga of how to knock ’em sideways at upcoming parties, we took a look at dresses. I might have lost some of you at the first mention of the D word. “Can’t wear dresses. My top’s a size 12 and my bottom’s a 2.” Or maybe you’ve already sunk serious money into a posh skirt or a sparkly top. Or your purse won’t stretch to three figures, the starting point for most dresses. Or you’re just not a dress person, period. So, alternatives: a clutch of not-too-costly separates to go with what’s already hanging in your closet.
Owner Margie Sheppard packs an astonishing number of finds into Ethel’s Boutique (2346 West 4th Avenue). These days, she’s hot on the local Gilmour label. A great little one-button jacket ($98) in crisp pinky-brown taffeta liberally embroidered with flowers walks the line between exotic and elegant. Team it with anything black, and remember, as Sheppard says, it’s “jeans-friendly”. A couple of other jackets here, both in inky black velvet, were born in L.A. The first is rock chick–y, stitched with charcoal flowers, and features raw-edged scalloped front and cuffs, and a hook-and-eye fastening ($69.95). The second, more snug-fitting, is a one-button style trimmed at the sides with small seashells and gold sequins ($49.95).
Okay, I hear you. You’re not a jacket person either. In that case, consider a loose and easy Raindrops top the colour of raspberries whizzed with cream. The sleeves are sheer, the body is chiffon over silk to halfway down, where it turns into panne velvet. Embroidery and a frosty sprinkling of tiny sequins provide after-dark twinkle. The price is $45, which would also get you either of two black sleeveless tops, lavishly beaded and sequined, on the same rack.
The wrap dress is a fashion blockbuster because it’s comfortable and flattering, and you can loosen or tighten it depending on how aggressively you’ve rampaged around the buffet table. Constructed along the same lines, another Gilmour design is a wrap-and-tie top ($65) in muted shades of turquoise and brown lit with gold. Try wearing it over pants in black velvet ($65) or brown or black crepe ($59) by the same designer. Comfy as yoga wear, they feature a rollover waistband so you can show midriff and hipbones, or not.
Over at Plum Clothing (various locations), designer Claudia Agusti’s take on popular crossover tops ($55) has cap sleeves and is cut in purple, chocolate, or burgundy dévoré velvet. The same fabric also makes a foxy style that ties with satin ribbon just under your bust ($55). These are cut low, so if you want to keep the girls under control, you might grab a little camisole in black microfibre ($19). Salesperson Julie Wilburn says that a chantilly-cream lace top (which also comes in black) with a satin ribbon to fasten at front, back, or sides ($75) is flying out of the stores, and you may be able to nab one of the last remaining rose-trimmed velvet purses, in crimson or black ($25).
A single accessory may be all it takes to sharpen your existing clothes into party focus, especially if you’re aching for something new but can’t justify additions to your already black wardrobe. (Black is where it’s at this Christmas.) Stop whining. Super-cool jewellery should leave your conscience clear. The hip, month-old U (2028 Vine Street) is filled with bewitching items, most exclusive to owner Unity Marguerite Whittaker. Berlin designer Michaela Binder works in gold and felt. Her “bubble” necklace ($277.25) comprises four vertically connected rings of different sizes suspended from a simple gold necklet. The rings hold circles of felt, and your purchase includes a number of different colours (as well as a handmade, hand-signed box) so you can switch the look as you like.
Another exclusive to Whittaker’s store is gorgeous jewellery made from Italian glass beads lined with 24-karat-gold flake, which gives them a glowing Renaissance look. Some are shaped like sugar cubes, and seven of them—in deep lustrous colours, interspersed with tiny beads of amethyst and peridot—make a showstopper of a necklace ($237). Selling fast as Christmas gifts are single beads made into earrings ($58) in every colour of the rainbow, and just as iridescent. Also moving quickly are necklaces featuring individual cherries made of resin, with a silver stem, in various colours ($143 to $192). There are no clothes here, because, as Whittaker says: “Jewellery fits all body types.”