Even though I listened to Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day, I was never a big devotee of grunge style. It was too messy and not girly enough for me.
But when I saw Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2013 collection, I fell in love. He managed to take the themes of dishabille (contrasting plaids and an oversized fit) and combine them with his own penchant for using luxurious fabrics, beautiful color, and prints with a bit of shiny embellishment.
I want to own the whole lineup in this collection. But, for now, I’ll start with this plaid-on-plaid ensemble.
Shirt, $685, and skirt, $865, at Blake, 212 W. Chicago Ave., 312-202-0047
When it comes to cosmetics, everyone’s a critic. Only a handful of products are universally loved: NARS blush in Orgasm, Smith's Rosebud Salve, Crème de la Mer moisturizer—your typical cult classics.
If there were an official list, I’d add the Naked Palette by Urban Decay. I finally caved and bought one, and I have no regrets. Every shade is completely wearable, with shades ranging from soft bisque to golden bronze to smoky grey.
The popularity of this palette prompted Nars to release a sequel last year, but the Naked2 is not a direct improvement on the original: Those with warm skin tones will probably prefer the original, while cool skin tones generally gravitate towards the latter.
If you’re not willing to commit to a $50 palette, start with the shade Half Baked, $18. The shimmery, golden shadow is the only color to make it into both palettes.
$50 at urbandecay.com
A good trench coat belongs in any man’s closet. But make no mistake: like the pea coat, this staple has morphed into something far different than the calf-length, collar-popped, Humphrey Bogart stereotype.
Trenches are shorter now, for starters, the more stylish coats often stopping a few inches above the knee. They’re also meant to be worn closer to the figure rather than the looser look of yore. Neutral colors still rule, though a much more varied palette has seized the fashion day this year. Salmon, even burgundy or navy blue, can add pop.
I’m partial to this tried and true beige, with some interesting features to freshen the look. This Javelins Double Breasted Trench Coat caught my eye. It sports an oversized convertible collar with leather buckle straps, front slant pockets, and an on-sleeve zip pocket. The adjustable waist belt is removable. The best part? Because it’s made of a cotton/polyester blend, you can throw it in the wash. Talk about a welcomed April shower.
$398 at Nordstrom, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-464-1515
Last week, I read an interview with the ultra-stylish Jessica Alba, who proclaimed the fitted blazer a spring wardrobe essential. She’s absolutely correct: When pulled on over a maxi dress or paired with pastel jeans and heels, it’s an instant dose of sophistication. Thus launched my weeklong search for the perfect specimen.
I spent my lunch hours scouring the Mag Mile’s department stores and boutiques, sifting through racks of chic but—yikes—expensive blazers, struggling to find something non-chintzy for less than $100. Things looked bleak as I wandered through Zara. But then, in a rare moment of retail genius, I beelined for the kids’ department.
There it hung: Amongst the boys’ duds, a lightweight checked number complete with sassy elbow patches. The sleeves, when rolled up, reveal a contrasting pattern that adds even more pizzazz. And it’s no Armani, but the fabric doesn’t scream “cheapo.” I wear a size 2 and the “11-12 years” size fits like a dream.
Sorry, boys. But you don’t get to keep this one all to yourselves.
$55.90 at Zara
It can take the eye a while to adjust to a new shape or silhouette, but adjust it does. (Remember when knee-length skirts seemed hopelessly dowdy?)
We’re in the midst of one such adjustment now, to the blocky low heel. Ignore the whiff of Queen Mum about this height—it will surely dissipate—and think about how fabulous it will be to stand just a little taller while remaining almost as comfortable as if you were wearing slippers.
One of the best of the Spring 2013 crop is the napa-with-patent-trim Christian Dior Cannage. The gold latticework that encases its 3-cm heel references not only the gardener’s staple but also the classic pattern found on Dior bags for years. Could there be anything springier?
Price: $695 (comes in blue, red, beige, and black)
Store: Neapolitan, 715 Elm Street, Winnetka, 847-441-7784
Spring is here… or at least it says so on the calendar. Despite the lingering frigid cold, it does seem like the sun is shining a little brighter outside, thus bringing my attention to my urgent need for new sunglasses. OK, maybe not urgent, as I do have a half dozen pairs lying about. But shopping for shades is one of my favorite things to do come spring.
I’ve been looking for a pair with contrasting color at the top of the frame—a kind of faux eyebrow—for a while now, so it’s no surprise this pair from Fendi caught my eye. Plus I love the brown and black striping on the sides, which is so on trend this season.
$396 at Nordstrom, 520 N. Michigan Ave.; or nordstrom.com
Ever since Oscar de la Renta sent his Spring 2013 models down the runway, with streaks of pink and blue pieces tucked up into classic French twists, I’ve been dying to have a little spring fling with my strands.
Hair chalking sounds like the perfect, noncommittal foray into electric hued hair. Free People sells these cute little tins of Ombre Hair Chalk in five different shades—just dampen hair, rub in, and wash out when you’re done. Chalk it up to spring fever, but I can’t wait to try them out.
Scented candles aren’t the most manly home accessory. That is, unless they are made from Kentucky Bourbon. Then, even the grizzliest gent can feel good about getting some ambiance going at his pad.
Enter Chicago Candle Co. The folks behind this local start-up create their scents based on wines, cocktails, and spirits—and they hand-pour their soy wax into cut and polished wine bottles recycled from local bars and cafes.
Their Kentucky Bourbon candle has notes of oak barrel and spice. An added bonus: Next time someone shows up at your house and the place reeks of whiskey, you can just blame it on your candle.
$28 at Haberdash, 607 N. State. St., 312.624.8551
There’s no quicker way to kill your zen than schlepping your clunky rolled-up yoga mat home after class. Do you toss it under your shoulder, bumping into passersby with your newly sprouted appendage? Or do you attempt to shove it into your purse or backpack, forcing yourself into an awkward balancing act as the thing wobbles to and fro?
I’ve fought it for long enough, but at last I concede: It’s time to invest in a yoga strap.
But like the all-important iPhone case, this little sling is a form of self-expression. Boring old black simply doesn’t cut it—so I found a lovely swirl-patterned version called the Dsenyo Sling. It’s got adjustable Velcro closures to fit whichever size mat you’re toting, and it has a nice long strap so you don’t choke yourself in transit.
Best of all, like everything at Greenheart Shop, it comes with a story: Crafted in Malawi under fair trade-business practices, this little accessory helps create employment opportunities for industrious Africans. Om yeah!
$20 at Greenheart Shop, 1911 W. Division St., 312-264-1625
Last week, the jewelry line Altruette became available in Chicago for the first time (at the adorably quirky Gold Coast store Judy Maxwell, which my colleague Gina Bazer blogged about here). Pop quiz: Why is this a big deal?
a) Because Altruette’s classic charms—in sterling silver or gold vermeil—bestow a dose of Mad Men-esque retro chic
b) Because half of the net profit goes directly to the do-good cause that each charm represents
c) Because they make great gifts for Mother's Day (less than eight weeks away!)
d) Because you may bump into actress Joan Cusack as you shop (she owns the store)
e) All of the above
That's right, smarty: E. Just don't buy all of the bee charms (pictured)—which support the Honey Bee Research Fund—before I get there.
$95 for gold vermeil; $75 for sterling (coordinating neck chains and bracelets also available) at Judy Maxwell General Store, 1151 N. State Street, 312-787-9999
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