Elements of Style: Striking ingredients can help keep you on-trend

By Kristina Leftwich

Staff Writer

Trends can often be overwhelming, confusing and impractical. This season’s harem pants will give way to next season’s—dare we guess? Runways were awash with oversized shoulders and tapered legs—unflattering to even the lithest of runway models. Should you invest?

A season inspired by an era of excess is best left to the accessories. Pepper in the high points in small doses. Staying on-trend need not be a journey back to a regrettable fashion decade. Brash gives way to a sedate sense of whimsy.

The statement bag is the perfect place to start. Your bag is the epicenter. It must be functional. It must be versatile. It absolutely must hold every essential to your life. It must, unequivocally, without a doubt, be an accurate representation of who you are.

A lot to ask, one might say, for what is, essentially, a satchel in which to encase your belongings. At the very least, a tool of necessity; at its best, a platform of distinction.

The statement bag has made quite the impression, casting aside the much-dated notion that your bag must match your shoes, or anything else, for that matter.

A handbag should be thought of in the same manner as an accent wall. It is a statement you would like to make in a tempered version of your overall design scheme. The perfect vehicle for a color, fabric, or texture that may otherwise overwhelm, it should set everything else off spectacularly.

An animal print is downright refined in a clutch, and red can be almost demure in a tote, alongside a pencil skirt and kitten heels.

When choosing the manner in which you will introduce yourself to the world, there is much to consider. It must work well with your existing pieces, while not overwhelming.

If your closet is full of button-downs and khakis, a purple patent leather hobo is probably not for you. A classic leather shoulder bag in a daring color may be a more suitable choice.

In another valiant effort to be on-trend this season, the bravest among us may trade out our tired, old tights for fuchsia, lace, argyle, stripes and sparkles. Patterned tights and leggings are everywhere. You can channel your inner ’80s rock star without being mistaken for a parade float.

Never has there been a better excuse to flash your gams. An otherwise inappropriate mini becomes suddenly wearable with a patterned tight or legging. Tall, flat boots take the overall effect down a notch, injecting an added level of accessibility.

Necklaces are another striking ingredient to consider. Gargantuan stones, bold beads, and layers of metallics may threaten to upstage even the boldest of bags. They must be piled on for full effect. Sans earrings, the look is adorned, without being Dynasty.

Each season brings an opportunity for reinterpretation. When pared down to the essentials, notes of intrinsic style always break through the barriers of staying of-the-moment. The result may just be the apex of personal evolution.

Send style questions or ideas to Kristina Leftwich at contact@rockrivertimes.com. Include “ATTN: Elements of Style” in the subject line.

From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue

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