DRESS TO THRILL
How a memorable outfit is made. By Christine Whitney
Throwing caution to the winds is the way to go if you want to make an impact, say experts
So what exactly does it mean to dress with a dash of daring? There are as many interpretations as the day is long: For stylist Julia von Boehm, it’s wearing white over black underwear; for Style Bubble blogger Susie Lau, it’s pairing Céline trousers with a kimono; and for Ana Maria Pimentel, Fashion Director for women’s accessories at Neiman Marcus, it’s as simple as swapping your clutch for a chic backpack, like the ones at Proenza Schouler and the Row.
It’s impossible to broach the subject without a nod to the doyennes of original dressing, like Iris Apfel and the late Anna Piaggi, who basically wrote the book on daring. Apfel’s oversize round glasses are an instantly recognisable signature that adds excitement to anything she wears. And Piaggi’s eccentric getups, which often included rainbow furs and flowerpot hats are the stuff of legend.
So how can you marry taste and daring in your wardrobe? Strategically placed flashes of skin are a good place to start. “Don’t be afraid to show a bit of skin if you are feeling provocative,” suggests Pimentel. She cites Balenciaga’s cutout pieces as options that strike the right balance between elegant and intrepid. The sheer dresses over metallic underpinnings from Dior’s cruise collection had the same effect. Designer Joseph Altuzarra says you can hit the right note by “wearing a button-down shirt very open or pairing it with a slit skirt,” as in his latest collection. That said a common misconception about daring dressing is that you have to be next to naked to qualify. “Decide what you want to cover up and what you want to show,” advises Altuzarra. A high slit or a short skirt goes a long way, but offset it with more modesty on top.
Accessories can be an easy entrée into that elusive dash. “Start classic and then add one fancy fashionable piece, like a metallic Prada shoe, rather than too many elements, says von Boehm. Jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez agrees. I always wear at least one conversation piece, usually usuall jewellery,” says Delettrez, whose surrealist surrealist baubles featuring evil eyes and skulls cer certainly fit the bill. During New York Fashion Week, street-style star and Buro 24/7 founder foun Miroslava Duma took a demure dem Dior blouse up a notch by wearing it with a leather yoke from Ukrainian designer Ksenia Kireeva. Other daring accessories to try now include Chloé’s highfashion slides with metal accents, which blur the line between couture and casual, providing an unexpected ontrend twist.
For a stronger statement, Delettrez favours a rather spectacular m more-is-more approach: “I wear a navy dress from a small nuns’ shop close to t the Vatican with vintage black buckled fetish boots and an outrageous Fendi fur in tropica tropical al bird colours, topped off with my rings in n pearls and colourful stones,” she shee says. “And “A a bag big enough to fit my Bengal ca cat.”
But you don’t have to incorporate live feline accessories to get the look. For a more moderate mo dash of daring, Pimentel advocates mixed prints. Prim florals by themselves themselv can skew towards traditional femininity, feminin but creating a bouquet of motifs has more pizzazz. Or pair a flowery Carolina Herrera skirt with a stripe striped Petit Bateau top to give your chic side some edge. Try orange in place of a neutral, perhaps teaming a tange tangerine jacket from 3.1 Phillip Lim with white wide-legged pants from Calv Calvin Klein. Rule of thumb: If it mak makes your heart beat a little faster, you you’re on the right track.
Ultimately, daring is in the a attitude. “It’s wearing something your own way,” Altuzarra says. “It’s about confidence,” adds Pimentel. “Wear your clothes, don’t let them wear you. For L Lau, it’s “throwing things in unex unexpectedly.” And von Boehm offers the la last word on what qualifies: “Being nak naked under a black trench.” Just make sure it’s an elegant one.
Julia von Boehm