Where are our modern day style icons? Definitely not on the covers or inside the pages of American fashion magazines. We are struck by the influence of young Hollywood on current womens style. Fashion media from Vogue to Elle to the daily style blogs closely follow and document the supposed "style" of young actresses who are under the age of 28, tan and a size 2. We often hear our clients, most of whom are over the age of 30, admiring the style of Rachel Bilson, Natalie Portman, Sienna Miller and now the cast of Gossip Girl. Though these particular women are dressing in a more refined way than other young Hollywood celebrities, their clothes -- leggings, mini dresses and over embellished bra-less tops -- are just not applicable to real womens daily life. There is very little in the American media for women to look to for real inspiration. We do note and appreciate Bazaar's effort to show us how to follow trends through our 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's. and 60's, but it is not enough.
We have fond childhood and teenage memories of looking up to stylish women and painting the stories of our lives when we too would someday be successful and chic. Well, we're grown up now and we want to keep dreaming! It seems the only people who are supposedly "iconic" and fashionable are 25! Whether we are 30, 40 ,50 , or 60, we want women to look to for style inspiration. We also want women older than our age to admire, so we can continue to dream and envision what we will someday become. We need style icons at every age!
We have watched in awe at the style transformation of Katie Holmes (Tom Cruise creepiness aside). Her look offers possibilities for the viewer -- options on how to wear your hair (wow - its not just long and highlighted -- is that allowed?), how to dress for work, and how to carry your bag and baby at the same time. Recently she was photographed on her way to work in New York in simple slim black jeans, a modern v-neck t-shirt, a trench coat, simple black flats with rubbery soles, and a cool black bag -- without gratuitous buckles -- that easily fit over her shoulder. This is what is inspiring about her, that her style, her look, is real, and while we know we can't necessarily afford all of her clothes, the idea behind them -- to be effortlessly modern, cool and sophisticated -- is a true inspiration for us.
This obsession with the young Hollywood celebrity set does not end with the media. Even if you attempt to set out in search of great clothes you will run into the trends driven by these young celebrities almost everywhere you look. The larger trends-for-less stores, i.e. H&M, Forever 21 (need we note the name?), Anthropologie, etc., seemed like such a good idea at first. It was great for people who wanted to follow season to season trends or anyone who did not want to break their bank. Because of these retailers, women have closets full of baby-doll dresses, frilly doll-like shirts and over-embellished jeans that are so low we are not sure how they fit anyone over the age of ten! We want to buy clothes that the woman of our childhood dreams may have worn! None of these retailers are providing clothes for people our age, much less the people we dream of being next.
One retailer we see deliver every season is J. Crew. They are embracing big fashion trends in a way that is beautiful, chic and timeless. They have this season's pencil skirt, but it's done in a way that won't make it obsolete next season. The price point is attainable whether you are comfortable spending money on clothes or not. And if you are accustomed to shopping at department stores and local boutiques the price point is a deal.We need more of this!
On the more "affordable" floor of department stores we see some great pieces from other collections such as Theory, Rag and Bone, James Perse, Isli etc. But they are grouped so tightly with the over embellished trendy look of the young Hollywood, it takes time and a very discerning eye to find the gems that will make your wardrobe feel functional, sophisticated and cool.
Karyn Starr of White-Starr