Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear…

3.1 Philip Lim’s clutch

Regardless of your fashion predilection or philosophy, at this particular time of the year, there is no denying the appeal and necessity of paring down, or even stripping down to the basics. But if you’re going to go that route, you can’t get away with dumb basics: you have to seek out wardrobe staples that fit perfectly, are made from high quality fabrics, and are tweaked just enough to make them distinctive and, more importantly, stand on their own.

During these past few weeks, with the thermostat rising into the 90’s, it has been almost impossible to think about piling on accessories and jewelry à la Iris Apfel. I tried but almost strangled myself in the process and decided it was just too hot to be weighed down. There is no question that a straightforward, unfussy, simplistic, minimalistic approach is the most appealing and chicest way to go.

The Row Mikan Blouse and Stratton Legging

Speaking of Iris Apfel, while she may be the ultimate maximalist in terms of her bold accessories, her clothing choices are surprisingly (or not) streamlined and quite minimal. When I interviewed the fashion icon for our  Masters of Fashion Interview with Iris Apfel  in January 2006, I asked her what her summer uniform consisted of. She quickly replied: a crisp white shirt and jeans (boys’ or men’s cut jeans because she favors that cut on her frame). Needless to say, you can do a lot worse than to follow Mrs. Apfel’s fashion advice.

Acne white cotton poplin shirt

Let’s face it, nothing looks better, is less fussy and more effortless than a borrowed from the boys’ white cotton shirt. And while wearing one with jeans is a no brainer, I love the hard-to-beat combination of black & white. So my choice would be to pair it with black shorts (if you can get away with them), skinny jeans, high waisted trousers, or a skirt in any length, shape, or fabric. (Although a white shirt also looks amazing with white, cream, red or orange). My recent favorites are a white cotton button down by Acne, featuring crystal star-shaped buttons, a pointed collar, buttoned French cuffs, and a shirttail ($250 at Barneys New York), and two from The Row (The Mikan Blouse, $790, http://www.barneys.com/ , The Pussybow Shirt, $609, http://www.farfetch.com/ ). Yes, they are pricey, but considering how often you would wear them, they are well worth the cost.

Rag & Bone Split Skinny jeans
As for jeans, well, nothing can be more indispensable (as Yves Saint Laurent once acknowledged). But when are a pair of jeans, NOT just a pair of jeans? When they are Rag & Bone’s Split Skinny- Black/White jeans, $198, http://www.rag-bone.com/. What I love is that they can go from day to night because they are a tuxedo pants/track pant hybrid (just change from flats to a heel and add a jacket and you’re good to go. And order one size up because they run very small). FYI, with the Olympic trials going on, (and all those finely tuned, well toned bodies on view), AND the London Olympics looming in the very near future, everyone’s got Olympic Fever it seems, including Ralph Rucci, who turned a sporty hooded windbreaker into a couture like collector’s item, for his resort 2013 collection.
Clear Martin Margiela shoes

I (and everyone else it seems) can never get enough of ballet flats (who wants to be uncomfortable while running around in the summer heat?) And because thunderstorms can pop-up at any time, and many of us will be heading to a beach, my favorite these days are the adorable and really practical jelly flats, which are made of rubber (not only don’t have to worry if you get caught in the rain, but you can wear them in the water). Tory Burch made a jelly Reva flat several seasons ago (they came in mouthwatering colors), as did J.Crew. While you can’t buy them at retail anymore, you can always find them on EBay if you keep looking. In addition to several from these designers, I also came across a few interesting interpretations (one seller is offering a Marc Jacobs inspired jelly mouse flat, $19.99).

Given my fascination with see through plastic (used for bags and footwear: Ralph Rucci’s customized Manolo Blahnik boots and sandals, and 3.1 Philip Lim’s clutch are good examples), the most inspired incarnations I’ve found are the cap toe ballerina flats that combine a transparent soft jelly plastic with black patent like material (it is also available in yellow and gold) offered by one particular seller on EBay. The price tag? A hard to beat $13.59!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.


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