Summertime means cocktails outdoors as a salty breeze mists Charleston.
The sunshine on your back means morning shopping breaks over coffee and gossip, concluded by afternoons nestled on a beach towel, the sand exfoliating your sun-kissed skin. It means that wedding season in the Lowcountry is rushing in like a wave, bringing in a sea of excellently coiffed and dressed young ladies. Dressing the part for these longer days takes finesse and talent, should you want to look your best on the streets of the Holy City.
Charleston, as a city, exudes an aura of timelessness from architecture to fashion. As
fashion is modern-day art, it is crucial to uphold the gift for dressing like a social lady Though the gown’s color is darker, when wandering the cobblestone streets, and the social calendar that Charleston boasts such a hue should not be exclusive to
calls for a wardrobe that plays every part, which is why the opinion of the experts is colder months. Caroline Baker of
worth more than the Louis Vuitton barrel bag you have tucked away in your armoire. Maude Couture has recognized that
The days are a tricky thing here on our humidity-laden coast. When the beach is calling the floral shoulder embellishment
your name and you can’t avoid those shops on King Street, wearing a transitional piece gives the gown a whimsical air that is
is the most crucial part of laying out your clothes in the morning. Ashley Reid of Clewis so well suited for spring time.
Reid says, “I think spring 2010 fashion is about color and print — celebrating spring, Dangling pearl earrings made by
but in a new-ish, updated sort of way. Modern, clean shapes allow for an easy, casual Carole Tinkey have a dazzling way of
sort of elegance that can take you from day to night with just a change of shoes and/or brightening the eyes.
accessories.” This is the most important idea to consider when faced with the task of dressing for daily activities, and in an effort to transform your spring 2009 pieces into summer 2010 icons. Since our daytime hours trickle into nighttime events in the summertime, wearing something that can be suited for both a beach cover-up and something to wear to happy hour is ideal.
Of course, what makes this even possible is your choice of accessories. According to Richard Schwartz of Bob Ellis Shoe
Store “comfort is just as important as style.” This is a relief for some women who have noticed the trends of five-inch heels and mile high wedges. Shoe designers have come to realize the strain these shoes are putting on women’s feet — designers like
Christian Louboutin, who has designed a heel with a padded sole, so what looks like a five-inch heel is really more like a three-inch heel. Pairing a shoe like that — something with a little sparkle and touch of metallic — with white jeans and a festive top allows the shoe to play a role beyond the cocktail party. Like Weezie Hyatt, buyer for Gwynn’s, says, “I have seen a major movement towards white — especially denim. We cannot keep enough styles or brands in stock! The slim look has really taken over, even though for the more fashion forward customer we have been selling those for the past few seasons. Our more seasoned, classic customer has even shifted in this direction.”
With these fabulous jeans getting more attention, pairing them with bejeweled footwear takes that pricey shoe, full of pizzazz, out on the town and out of your closet more often. This creates meaning behind investing in those special shoes. As Joe Testa, manager of Bob Ellis Shoe Store, says, “Women have to stop thinking of these shoes as cocktail.” Doing so pigeonholes certain looks and creates a rigid wardrobe. Letting dressy pieces come to a casual gathering and casual pieces make an appearance at the cocktail party — something like a flat sandal with a flowy dress — makes your look not only original, but priceless (despite the price tag hanging from your Jimmy Choos).
That is not to say that accessories are limited to footwear. Your jewels speak volumes and can make anything you are wearing infinitely more special. Bold statements are the way to go. Carole Tinkey, humble Charlestonian jewelry maker, suggests for this season investing in a fabulous necklace that combines turquoise with coral or bone stones. According to her, “Any of these will add
color or a counter punch to most outfits and complement anything from jeans and a tee shirt to a little black dress, easily transitioning
from day to evening.” It is so important to choose these pieces carefully, because they make an outfit what it is, and, of course, they allow for versatility.
Katie Kern poses elegantly on the grand Do not limit yourself to stones, though. Look at metals in reworked shapes. Tinkey is staircase of Drayton Hall, dressed in currently using the scrap copper from a friend’s old roof to make phenomenal her gorgeous white cocktail dress with robin’s earrings and bracelets. Also, adding freshwater pearls to these dark metals creates egg blue lining, designed by Maude an edgy look. As it was popular in the fall, women have carried over the feminine Couture, and her radiant Theodosia looks that mix with hard-edge swagger for unique combinations. Though
cuff bracelet. summertime is a time for softer silhouettes and colors, maintaining this interesting comingling of looks is something that will take your ensemble to the next level.
Then you come to the bag. You can’t simply carry a clutch during the day, but an oversized handbag at night seems cumbersome. Caroline Baker of Maude Couture says the best solution is “a great neutral bag. Not just because it is trendy, but because it is a good excuse to buy something you should already have anyway.” Combining phenomenal footwear with gorgeous jewelry and that one fabulous staple — a handbag — will equip your closet with what it needs to go from the boat or the boutique to the bar in a matter of minutes.
However, there are those days when you spend hours in front of the mirror wanting to look you’re best, from a coiffed hairdo to your bronzed skin. You may be the hostess or you may be the attendee; but whatever your role, it should never diminish your need to look breathtaking. Baker says to achieve an awesome look for the evening the most crucial thing is fit: “Every woman in the world should know what looks best on her. Consult an expert, research your body type or simply go try on basic silhouettes to learn what looks best on your frame. Once you know what style suits you, fit is your best friend. Whether you are a size two or 22, fit is what makes the formal look a show stopper.” Heather Koonse, custom tailor and owner of the Rose Knot, explains, “A well constructed dress should be designed with proper proportions, fluid movement and the perfect fit. A well-constructed dress should look effortless.” Words to live by.
Understanding this on all levels of dressing is important, but there is one vital aspect of summertime dressing that
we’ve missed. One point that so many women find impossible. The time where
comfort is most important, but a quality look is hard to maintain.
That beast is travel. Has anything else stumped any woman more than dressing for travel?
There is certain footwear that is typically thought of as intended for travel. Such footwear can tend to be too rigid and flat. Having a bit of lift in a micro-fiber stretch gives your foot the feeling of walking on clouds, and Stuart Weitzman makes a brilliant sandal to fit this bill, according to Richard Schwartz. Wearing the jewelry that can work with all the pieces that you’ve packed not only saves you space in your suitcase, but inevitably looks phenomenal. One back up of each piece of jewelry should be enough for you to wow on all continents and in all countries.
Unfortunately, travel today has become an excuse to dress like a shlub and to lose all sense of caring for your wardrobe. Ashley Reid says, “Traditionally, travel called for a chic outfit. People used to dress up for train and plane trips, lending an air of sophistication to travel. We have lost that, as you will notice in every airport the slew of sweatpants and pajamas. While I am always a creature of comfort, I think travel can be both chic AND comfortable, and you don’t have to be uncomfortable to look put together. Layers, like an easy dress and jacket combo, is ideal — especially with a nice oversize wrap that can double as a blanket, but that can also accessorize the look nicely. A nice, roomy travel bag is also essential and can pull a look together.” Jenna Swann in a turquoise beaded Dressing in the summer is not an easy task. However, knowing the tricks to Maude Couture dress and hammered dressing can really make a difference. Shorts are coming in styles and fabrics that look metal earrings by Carole Tinkey awaits chic with flipflops over a bathing suit but also show off some tanned legs with a great a party in Charleston looking like
pair of wedges. Dresses in cotton and clean cuts are good for day or night, airplane or absolute perfection.
train. Jazzy shoes are no longer solely meant for cocktail dresses, but are welcomed by a fabulous pair of jeans. Jewelry makes or breaks your outfit. Know that summertime dressing is for fun. You no longer have to dress for warmth or cover up your fabulous apparel, and for this you can breathe a sigh of relief. It is time to show your style. With a million ways to get that starquality look, summertime in Charleston is going to be a breeze.
“I would describe myself as the ever-evolving explorer,” says Caroline Hincher Baker, a business administration major and Charleston designer whose post-College explorations found her graduating summa cum laude in fashion design at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology with a certificate in millinery. “I enjoy learning as much as humanly possible about my trade. I love to gather information and ideas and see where they lead me.” So far, herideas have landed her on the Charleston Fashion Week runway for three consecutive years – last year being the runway debut of Maude Couture, her line of custom eco-couture gowns named after her grandmother, who taught her to sew as a girl. “I take pride in working with my hands the way my grandmother (and her grandmother) did. There is a great comfort in the humility of that tradition.”
In a unique tribute to tradition and culture, Baker has united the universal language of love with the world’s various wedding customs in this untraditional wedding gown. “Every culture’s bridal attire is steeped in history and tradition, expressing some special custom or belief. This design celebrates these diverse elements by marrying them into one,” says Baker, explaining that the gown takes its influences from the African iro and ipele, the Korean hanbok, the Indian Sari, the Hispanic mantilla and the Japanese obi and tsunokakushi – as well as respecting the traditions of China (with red, symbolizing good luck), India (with red, symbolizing fertility, wealth and purity), Ireland (with blue, symbolizing luck), England (using something old, new, borrowed and blue) and the South (via the monogrammed train). “This design reflects a potpourri of wedding traditions from around the world, illustrating the compatibility of cultural differences and the beauty of love’s assimilation through the language of fashion.”
student model: Amberjade Mwekali Taylor '11