Monday, November 17, 2008

The Magpie Protests

Last week I was out running one morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, it's November so the temperature was below 90 -- it was perfect. I was humming along on the tail end of mile three and feeling really good about pretty much the entire world and all its inhabitants when I saw two women walking toward me. There is an elementary school in my neighborhood, and when I'm out running I often see women in groups of two or three walking around. I get the impression that they are teachers from the school getting a little air & exercise during their off periods, and I applaud them for this. However, on this particular day, one of the women was wearing a garment that very nearly threw me off my stride. It was a metallic gold lace tiered broomstick skirt that reached down to her ankles. Not only was the material metallic, there were apparently sequins or rhinestones or somesuch applied here & there, because tiny flashes of light winked at me as she moved closer.

Good googly-moogly. It was all a bit much for 10:00 a.m. on a Thursday, ya know?

First off, let's talk about the skirt. Happily, I have not been able to find anything just like it on the interwebs to show you, but it was along these lines:


Okay, we all recognize this skirt, right? Imagine this, but made out of shiny gold metallic lace.


Please don't wear this skirt. Don't wear it if it's a solid color, don't wear it if it's a "cute" floral calico print and for god's sake don't wear it if it's made of metallic gold lace. I don't care if you are Heidi Freaking Klum, there is no way to escape looking dumpy when wearing this skirt, especially because it is almost always worn by women for whom dumpy is a distinct danger. Let's be honest, we hardly ever see this skirt on 5'10" 120-pound could-be-a-model types, do we? For some reason, this has become a near-uniform for ladies of a certain age who are pear-shaped, or just have more on their bottom half than they are happy with, and apparently think this provides some sort of camouflage.


Ironically, unless you ARE at least 5'10", wearing an ankle-length skirt is the surest, fastest way of making yourself look shorter. And dumpier. (Yes, it's an ugly word, but I'm trying to shock people into awareness.) Also ironically, those vertical pleats aren't fooling anyone. They're just expanding across your wide bits. It's a disaster, trust me. JUST SAY NO TO THE BROOMSTICK SKIRT, I'm begging you.

But that wasn't even why I brought it up. I brought it up because of the sparkly bits.

Now, don't get me wrong, Style Spy loooooooves her some sparkly bits. I had a friend who used to call me Magpie, because of how easily distracted I am by anything shiny or sparkly. Sequins, rhinestones, satin, I love 'em all. And the last couple of years those things, which were from fashion time immemorial relegated to strictly evening wear, have migrated into acceptable daywear. Once upon a time, it was taboo to wear a charmeuse blouse in the daytime. Now, it's fine. In days of fashion yore, any hint of sparkle before 6:00 pm was shocking. Now, not so much. And I'm all in favor of expanding our fashion boundaries, but there is such a thing as A Sequin Too Far.

So let's talk about Acceptable Daytime Sparkle.

Typically, I'm not in favor of whimsy for whimsy's sake, but I can't help it, I love these.

Converse Electronic Sequins OX Low Sneaker

Sparkly Chucks! What's wrong with that? Suddenly, your trip to the hardware store to buy little hickymajiggers to hang up the latest family portrait isn't a chore -- it's an opportunity to sparkle! Do you have a dog? Trust me, your dog wants you to wear these when you take him for a walk.

Not so much the sneaker type? I can also go for these:

Pedro Garcia Ginebra Sequin Ballet Flat

These are adorable. And they work for daytime because they're a matte sequin, and the shoe itself is a nice, casual flat. If you put these on with a pair of trousers for work, I don't think anyone would bat an eye. I sure wouldn't.

These are also great for everyday.

Antik Batik Soot Stone & Sequin Ballet Flat

And the swell thing about either of these pairs of shoes is that they of course could work with a dressy evening outfit if you wanted them to. 'Cause they're sparkly!

Not only would I be okay with wearing these during the day,

I would positively encourage it. Ooooooh, my goodness, what a shoe. Again, the sequins are matte and the spectator style is inherently daytime, but that is a daytime shoe with some oomph and some hey-baby-look-at-me without being over the top or in the least inappropriate. Gaw-juss.

This, on the other hand, is not a daytime shoe.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Sequin Bow Pump

And that's just fine. Sometimes special should just be for special.

Here are a couple of other items that have a little sparkle but still work for day.

This is a great all-purpose shell with just a little glimmer at the neck, to draw the eye up to your pretty face. It works great under a jacket or cardigan, and my other favorite trick the last couple of seasons has been to layer something like this over a button-front blouse, or a long-sleeved t-shirt. Try it, it's really cute.

This cardigan is adorable.

That cropped length is extra-great for the petites among us, and again, just a hint of sparkly up near the face. Very nice, and work-appropriate with a not-sparkly top. It would also be a great extra layer with a festive LBD and some shimmery silver shoes. Double duty -- we love that in a garment.

I'm intrigued by this sweater.

DKNY Sequin Long Sleeve Crew Neck Sweater

I can't get a good read on exactly how shiny or all-over the sequins are from the pictures. It really could go either way. If the sequins have a bit of space between them, sort of a sprinkling of sparkle, and are fairly matte, it could be a nice day piece, especially as a layer under something. If it's too shiny, or is solidly sequined wall-to-wall, well, I still love it for evening because I always love that idea of a super-easy or casual silhouette made out of a special fabric. That top with your best black pencil skirt and some fabulous shoes (and pretty much any color would work, but might I suggest those adorable blue numbers above?) and you have the killer cocktail outfit that takes 30 seconds to put on and looks like a million bucks. The other great thing about all-over sparkly clothes? No need for jewelry. Maybe some simple earrings or a bracelet, but a necklace will be overkill. See? More time saved!

And one more thing to show you, which is definitely NOT daytime-appropriate, but when a gal types "sequins" into a search box, she's bound to turn up this sort of thing.

Foley + Corinna Sequin Tennis Dress

Good googly-moogly. I am COMPLETELY IN LOVE with this dress. It's so devastatingly Daisy

. I don't think I'd pair it with those heavy tights and shoes, although I see what they're going for with the idea. I'd do a bare leg with a thin-strapped gold or black sandal, or if I wanted to go with this more modern take on it I'd do maybe a less opaque black tight with an ankle bootie -- just something a little bit lighter. Oh, I'm going to dream about this dress...

So. In conclusion, Style Spy is down with the sparkle. Up to a point. Sparkle, like any spice, should be used judiciously. The correct amount adds flavor and zest to your outfit. Too much drowns out everything else. Unless you're going for full-on festive, use a light touch.

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Deja Pseu said...

Another magpie here. Love that first pair of ballet flats especially!

Can we also outlaw the t-shirts with sparkly or rhinestoned "words" across the boob area like "bebe" or "Bitch!" or "CHANEL" (and you know that didn't come from any Chanel boutique!). Also the bejewelled sweatshirts?

StyleSpy said...

Deja -- if only I could. They'd go into the trash heap along with the crocs and the sweatpants with writing across the butt and torched in a giant fashionista bonfire. Oh, a gal can dream, right?

Duchesse said...

Oh dear. First, my heart goes out to this woman who was probably trying to look "nice". It's often the larger, older woman who reaches for glitz to bolster her confidence, or send the message that "though I am large, I have not given up." But then she tips into gaudy. And I agree about long, ample clothes making one look bigger.
I find those Chucks ghastly on anyone over 11 unless at a costume party. Want sparkle? Wear diamonds.