Shiny Days

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sequins are certainly not for wallflowers. Indeed, the flashy embellishment usually calls to mind flagrant over-indulgers: Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, RuPaul. Or anyone who was ever on "Dynasty." The adornments have been traditionally reserved for performers or nighttime, but lately a fresher take has emerged -- right into broad daylight.

"The minute the consumer feels like they don't have a lot of money to spend, the rules of fashion change," says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group, a market research firm. "People were looking for fashion they could wear for day and for night, and dress up and dress down."

So, how to incorporate sparkle, sparkle, sparkle into your daytime wardrobe -- without veering into Vegas showgirl territory? A few guidelines:

Stick to casual silhouettes. That means spotlighting shine on uncomplicated cuts, like T-shirts, cardigans and shifts, as Proenza Schouler did in its pre-fall collection featuring boxy sequined tees. Same tactic goes for accessories: Choose sequined sneakers, not stilettos; colorful, chunky bangles, not sparkle-encrusted chandelier earrings. A few favorites? Converse Jack Purcell low-tops and Coach's multi-pocketed satchel.

Pick unfussy, informal fabrics. Avoid sequins affixed to smooth satins or draping silks -- instead, look for pieces fashioned from uber-casual fabrics in quiet, subdued hues like navy, beige or white. WYL's silver-sequined tank loses formality with its undershirt-like white ribbed cotton, and H&M's heather-gray bikini and flesh-toned tunic combine neutral shades with subtle, clear sequins.

Dress the rest down. Juxtapose the sparkly item with low-key pieces, like distressed denim, a sporty striped cardigan or conservative workwear, as seen on 3.1 Phillip Lim's fall runways, where gold pailletted cardigans and shells were tempered by burnout tees and menswear-inspired trousers. Then, add accessories that continue to play down the look -- think vintage leather, flat shoes and minimal jewelry.

-- Michelle Thomas

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