I think we can all agree that when it’s time to get fancy on a blisteringly hot evening, the ideal choice is a dress that:
1. Is made of a breathable, natural fabric
2. Floats gently away from the body rather than clinging to it
3. Is dark enough to conceal evidence of a “glow” (my late grandmother’s ladylike euphemism for “sweat”).
My pick for this season is Lanvin’s jewel-shoulder cotton midi dress (my preference is black, but it is also available in prune). Not only does it fulfill the previous three requirements, but its hem hits that sweet spot right below the knee: the new length that you’ll be seeing much more of come fall. Bonus: It’s got some bling built right in, so you needn’t fuss with jewelry when you’re feeling all, you know, glowy.
$399 (down from $995!) in black, at 15 E. Oak St., 312-587-1700, or at barneys.com; $495 in prune, at Lanvin, 116 E. Oak St., 312-765-7075
Jumpsuits may be in, but getting out of one—say, in the close confines of an airplane lavatory—can be tricky.
Choose this Diane von Furstenberg outfit instead.
It offers all the practicality of two separate pieces while giving the chic, elongating effect of one seamless garment. The split sleeves of the black Astor silk top are easy-breezy in hot weather while hiding the underside of the upper arm (just in case you've been neglecting your triceps at the gym). And the matching cropped viscose/polyamide pants, with a hint of stretch (dubbed the Clean Pinca), are the perfect basic.
$275 for the top; $275 for the pants, at Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan Ave., or at neimanmarcus.com.
When I lived in New York City, my female colleagues and I would eagerly await a key opportunity to replenish our wardrobe of work basics: the semiannual Theory sample sale. In the pencil-skirt category, the Golda is the model most of us snatched up in every color (black, navy, dark gray, lighter gray). It’s so perfect that Theory has been making, and selling, this exact same skirt for at least a decade—no design tweaks needed.
The perfection lies not just in the fabric (a lightweight stretch wool that you can wear on all but the hottest summer days) but in the cut. A cleverly sinuous seam that angles across each hip, ending at double vents in back, gives even stick-straight figures the illusion of curves. The skirt looks just as good on more amply endowed figures, though you’ll have to take it to a tailor to nip it in at the waist (something worth doing anyway as a matter of course: perfect tailoring can make even a basic into something special).
And while Theory runs no sample sales in Chicago that I’m aware of, here’s the next best thing: Right now the Golda is on sale, for about 40% off the usual $200 price. I’ve listed three different retailers below, in case your size and color sells out. (NB: The skirt runs small, so consider sizing up.)
* $112 at bloomingdales.com.
* $119.98 at nordstrom.com.
* $120 at saks.com.
Got any other skirt that you think is perfect? Please share in the comments section.
While summer is the season of whites, white bags can be tricky—not only can they look a tad granny, but they get dirty in a twinkling.
No such problems with this Ferragamo stunner, which arrived at the Michigan Avenue store just a couple of weeks ago. (It's technically from the Fall 2013 collection.) The python exterior is black around the edges—where wear and dirt is most likely to show—with an irregular white blaze down the center. What's more, its leather-lined interior is roomy enough to hold your iPad (and other essentials).
A beautifully crafted Italian bag that you can carry from now through fall—without worrying about stains? Sign me up.
$1,950 at Salvatore Ferragamo, 444 N. Michigan Ave., 312-397-0464, or at ferragamo.com. (Note: This is Ferragamo's temporary location while it refurbishes its permanent digs at 645 N. Michigan. The move to the larger space is scheduled to happen in a few weeks.)
As regular readers of the Classics blog know, I am a wee bit obsessed with scarves. Specifically, 36-inch-square silk-twill ones. And for summertime, there are few better bets than Pucci.
If you haven't been lucky enough to receive a groovy 1960s version from a beneficent aunt—or don't have the energy to score one on eBay (worth checking out, for sure), never fear: Saks always stocks a good selection of the Italian label’s latest. Here is a great example. No matter how you tie it, this stylized floral print looks terrific. Plus, it's perfect to tuck into your luggage for a trip—it can turn a simple black or white dress into a completely different outfit, while taking up very little packing space.
Bonus: It’s also ideal for those over-air-conditioned spaces, when you need just a little something extra to cut the chill.
$375 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., or saks.com
Carried off with aplomb by everyone from Pablo Picasso to Jackie O, the classic striped Breton sailor’s shirt never goes out of style—and it looks to be especially popular this season.
While dozens of different versions are available, from a boxy $30 number at L.L. Bean to a slim-cut $90 model from Petit Bateau, my favorite right now is this St. James for J. Crew tee. It’s the product of a collab between J. Crew and French company St. James, which has been making the originals for generations.
The 100-percent cotton knit is neither too light nor too heavy, the cut neither too slim nor too loose. And the three-quarter-length sleeve is très French. While it comes in four colorways, get the ivory/navy (pictured): It goes with literally everything.
$90 at J. Crew, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-751-2739
Jewel neckline. Silk-satin fabric. Pleats. This fuschia dress ticks off all those “classic” boxes. Until you get to the hem. The touch of asymmetry—which results in a pleasing flutter when you walk—makes this Maison Martin Margiela dress something special.
In a sea of boring sheaths, you’ll stand out just the right amount.
$1,030 at Barneys New York, 15 E. Oak St., 312-587-1700
It was only a matter of time. New York City potter-turned-home-furnishings-juggernaut Jonathan Adler was bound to expand to fashion.
Among the accessories newly on offer: This slightly psychedelic swath of cotton and silk, like a classic Missoni print after one too many cocktails.
Billed as a pareo (the Navy Acid Palm Pareo, to be exact), it also works excellently for looping around your neck while you wait for the thermometer to climb. And because it’s a generous 60 by 44 inches, you’ll be assured of plenty of coverage poolside. Someday....
$98 at Jonathan Adler, 676 N. Wabash Ave., 312-274-9920
The closest thing to the Platonic ideal of a ring has got to be the Nudo. By Italian jeweler Pomellato, it’s a perfect faceted hunk of a gemstone affixed, sans visible prongs, into a substantial 18-karat rose gold band. Minimal enough to accompany edgy apparel yet classic enough to be worn by your grandma, it’s designed to be stackable (a nice touch). Last month, Pomellato introduced a new Nudo size (bigger!) and color (blue topaz). Buy it and you’ll pass it down to your granddaughter someday.
$3,100 at Pomellato, 41 E. Oak St., 312-649-9720
Come April, you’re dying to cast off your sweaters. But the still-changeable weather (down some 30 degrees since yesterday!) makes that problematic.
This J. Crew Collection cashmere shell is an excellent solution. Made of 14-gauge Italian yarn, it’s significantly warmer than a silk or cotton sleeveless top. Wear it under a jacket on nippy mornings; throw off the outer layer to get some sun on your arms at lunchtime.
While it comes in seven colors, coral (“neon rose” in J. Crew-speak) is the winner.
$118 at jcrew.com
About this blog
Style Sheet is Chicago magazine’s blog devoted to all things stylish. Every weekday our trusty columnists track down the best offerings in men’s and women’s apparel, beauty, and grooming so you can just sit back and click.
Carly Boers | An associate editor at Chicago magazine, Boers loves a bargain and is addicted to new jeans and cute accessories. Look for her $100-or-less Cheap & Chic pick on Tuesdays.
Heiji Choy Black | Always on the hunt for the new, the exceptional, and the avant garde, Black edits Chicago magazine’s fashion coverage. Look for her Fashion Forward pick on Fridays. Twitter: @heijiblack