“Trick & Treat in April”

I know that this is the month of April and I am well aware that Halloween has long since passed. But luckily, you will find tricks and treats in the world of fashion year round. As they say, God is in the details, and it is truly the little details that make a difference. Sure it would be nice to be able to buy new designer clothes each season, but that is hardly realistic or pragmatic for most of us. And of course, it is hardly necessary. It is often times, a relatively simple detail, or more specifically, a styling trick, as seen on the runways, which can make as much of an impact  as the exact clothes shown (if not more).

The good news is that these are the things that can be easily and effortlessly applied to your wardrobe: all you have to do is be creative and think out of the box. The list is almost endless, but these are my top 11 favorites.

 Alexander Wang Resort 2014

1 Black & White: What is more dramatic or foolproof than the combination of black & white? And who doesn’t already own numerous pieces in all black and all white? Mixing them up makes a graphic statement and you cannot go wrong regardless of how you play with them. And don’t underestimate the impact of simply adding a white bag, white shoe or boot, to an all-black ensemble.

Chanel Pre-Fall 2010

2 Better RED Than Dead: The combination of red and black is timeless and just a touch of red with all black, is similarly foolproof.

Christian Dior Fall Winter 2014 impeccably tailored pantsuits
accented with bright cashmere throws

3 Scarf Trick: You already know that an iconic Hermes scarf can be worn and tied in countless ways to add instant panache (around your neck, on your head, as a bandana, over the handle of your bag, to shield a cast on a broken arm). But why not use a plain silk neck scarf (in black or red) in place of a more predictable necklace, as Raf Simons did for Christian Dior, Spring 2013 (he showed them with both his natty black pantsuits, and his simple fitted black tops and floral printed ball skirts). And I love the way he accessorized his impeccably tailored pantsuits for fall 2014; throwing contrasting and brightly hued oversized cashmere and fur throws over the arms of his models.

Lanvin Spring Summer 2013

4 Bag It: If you loved Alber Elbaz’s luxurious metallic garbage bags, just think how easy you can achieve the same look without necessarily buying an expensive Lanvin purse. Just buy some inexpensive metallic material, manipulate it into whatever size and shape you want, and create your own ‘garbage’ bag . If you’re really chic and bold, you can just buy the real plastic garbage bags. Along those same lines, just the way you carry your bag can make a big difference (Phoebe Philo for Celine has proven to be a master at this). Instead of holding your bag the traditional ladylike way, put your arm through the top handle and carry it under your arm, as though it were a clutch (or hold all your bags as though they were clutches).

 Dries Van Noten Spring 2012 mixing the moto jacket
with evening skirt

5 In the Mix: We all know how mixing things up can make a difference. Those surprising, offhanded mixes on runways are easy to emulate: mix high and low, seasons, day and night, play soft against hard, and toughen up your feminine pieces with menswear. (Certain designers’ runways are traditionally fertile ground for inventive styling tricks: Miuccia Prada, Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Marni, among them.)

Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2014

6 The Blues: One of the oldest tricks in the book is to downplay an expensive, luxurious jacket or coat by pairing with it jeans (whether they are distressed and faded, or indigo and stiff). Well guess what? It still works.

 Dior Fall 2012 Couture mini ballgown
with tailored black trousers

7 Who Wears the Pants?: Fashion is all about proportion (as Coco Chanel knew). A quick way to change proportion is to layer pants beneath a dress or a skirt suit. FYI, this is the perfect solution if you have a skirt that is too short and need the extra coverage, or it’s simply too cold to go out without that extra layer.

Maison Martin Margiela Pre Fall 2012

8 ‘Shouldering’ the Blame: Instead of wearing a jacket or coat the traditional way, why not casually fling or toss it over your shoulders? I have no idea where this actually started but it seems nobody actually wears coats or jackets anymore LOL

Calvin Klein Fall Winter 2013

9 Metal ‘urgy’: A glimmer of shiny metal (gold, silver, bronze) via graphic buckles or chains, can go a long way to make a statement, and nothing more perfectly sparks up black or white, by the way.

 Celine Pre Fall 2013

10 White Collar Worker: Is there anything better, more practical, and more important, than a crisp white shirt? Night, day, summer, winter, fall. How do I love thee, let me count the ways. I cannot even count the different ways one can wear a white shirt but suffice it to say, you literally cannot go wrong (just seeing the crisp white collar and cuffs peek out from beneath a jacket, coat, dress, etc. is often enough).

Rick Owens Spring 2014

11 ‘A’ for Attitude: And finally, what is fashion without attitude? You can get away with wearing anything, and nobody will mess with you  as long as you have ‘attitude’!

Speaking of tricks, treats, and plenty of attitude, you could do a lot worse than to learn a few tricks from the amazing Iris Apfel. The legendary 93 year old decorator, textile designer, and fashion icon opened up her warehouse for a truly unique and special sale on www.onekingslane.com, the online marketplace that specializes in top-brand, designer, and vintage items for the home (it began on Saturday and ends on April 15). Mixed in with the “staggering inventory of one of a kind finds” (which includes items for the home as well as wearable accessories) were some of her astute observations on all things design related. These are some of my favorites:

“If you do make a mistake,
so what? They’re not going to put
you in jail. They may have
fashion police, but I don’t think
they have interior design police.”

“If you have a sure hand, you can
mix patterns well. But if you don’t
know what you’re doing, and you
kind of throw them together
haphazardly, it can be pure disaster.”

“My mother knew if you bought a couple
of really good architectural outfits and put
your money into accessories, you could
create a million different looks. She taught
that to me, which I think was invaluable.”

“What’s my style is not your style,
and I don’t see how you can define it.
It’s something that expresses who
you are in your own way. There
are minimalists and maximalists
and all shades in between.”

“We got to a point where my husband said,
‘We don’t have any more room; you can’t go
to the Paris flea market.’ So I thought, I’ll go,
but I won’t buy furniture; I’ll buy jewelry.”
“These are things I love, things
I’ve worn. I get more compliments on
accessories than anything else. I think
they’re kind of like herbs and spices.
They give zest and zing to an outfit.”

“If you don’t improvise, everything is
very boring. You have to try new things
and introduce new themes and then play
with the themes. It’s very much like jazz.”
“I’m always challenging myself. I always
want to do better. I mean, I’m not too far
from being 93, and I think that every day
I don’t learn something is a bad day.”

“If you want to do something,
you just do it. I think it’s the best way
to decorate. If you go by the book,
to me, things are too uptight.
I like everything to look relaxed.”

“One major fault in American
interior design is lack of humor.
There should be humor with
everything because if you don’t
have it, you might as well be dead.”

-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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