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Top ten style trends...

...In planned obsolescence

Top row: Each Ralph Lauren hat is just enough oversized for real hair in real weather; bottom row: Nomadic hats from Nicholas K, A Detaher, and Rhihanna's brand Fenty x Puma

Photos supplied by clothing lines


I don’t have a top ten list of accessories for this year. I don’t know that I know ten different types of accessories. What I do have is a top ten list of the year’s hype that surrounded our accessories—the best comments that relate to the extras we use to give our outfits a personal touch, function, or  needed distraction. I love the “what’s trending now” hype. Sometimes it is because my response is, “Heck, yeah. It’s about time. I’ve been wanting to mix black and blue, like, for-ev-er.” Sometimes it’s because the language and format are so transparently designed to get us to shop that I laugh. But mostly I love the hype because I can depend on it. There is a fresh crop of “gotta haves” with each new fashion week, and with each turnover I know that something, somewhere is going to help give my outfits and emotions a lift. 


10. No More Tiaras.

I’m not sure why this isn’t number one on my list. Beyond a handful of over-processed toddlers and the dwindling collection of show-boaty royals, I didn’t know tiaras were even in this year. Not that it would have mattered. I only have room on the top of my head for an extra pair of reading glasses. And glasses do seem better suited as the “Hey! Pay attention to me” headdress for all of us modern-day grown up princesses. What may be worse than me not knowing they were in style during the spring 2016 runway, was that nobody told Dolce & Gabbana that they’d be out by fall. This all seems a shame, because nobody makes a head bracelet out of gemstones and bananas better than D&G. I would buy one in a second, actually, if I knew where to get a sash. 


On coats, under coats, Chanel says Pearls!


9. Pearls 

Pearls, actually, are never out. They just have a lousy press agent. We think we have to behave when we wear pearls, and behaving-type accessories are always relegated to the “maybe when I’m eighty” shelf of your jewelry box. But this thinking is wrong. Pearls are perfect for contrast. You can wear a single strand with a jean jacket. You can wear a whole lotta strands draping over a half-naked chest. You can wrap them around your neck like a choker, your waist like a belt, or your wrist as a cuff. Blending strands of different sizes of white sheen helps you make noise when you dance and laugh and dance some more. Actually, they don’t even have to be white. I have a pink strand I wrap around the wrist of my grey sweater, and a grey-blue pair I wear with black. Color doesn’t matter. All that does is that you don’t treat them like your grandmother’s stress beads. 


Offset single Cedric Charlier earing by hair, by hair, or by making it look Bluetooth


8. The Single Earring

This look is going to take some time to go mainstream. It is going to sit for a while in fashion’s permanent file along with seams that show on the outside of your shirt and underpants designed for display—concepts that looked mostly like mistakes at first. A part of me is OK with the idea of a single earring. It gives us something to do with all the earrings we couldn’t bear to throw away after dropping the mate on a long-ago date. I know that when arranging flowers, it is good to have uneven numbers of stems. If I want to make the statement that says I’m quirky and up to date on my fashion reading, this might get the job done. But then there is science. Science says that facial asymmetry is tough. It is not as welcoming to others as things that are aligned. We worry when sides don’t match up. For me, this is true with almost anything. I go into respiratory distress just looking at mismatched plaid. Yes, rocking the one-earring trend could be disconcerting. But, mostly, the trouble will be in what this look is going to sound like. It is going to sound a lot like, “Hey, you lost an earring.” And it is going to sound like that at least fifteen times a day. It may take a few seasons before people start believing it is “intentional.”


Two ways to mismatch, by Dior. 


7. Mismatched Earrings

See above, only it sounds like, “Hey, did you know your earring broke?”


6. Lucky Charms

They don’t say “charms,” actually. Charms were so sixties and seventies. Today’s designers say “talismans,” which is just another word for “charm,” but let’s move on. Talisman dressing sparks my interest. I never saw this coming, but now that it is here, I see the potential. Is there a way I can carry good luck with me to work every day? The master of the dark arts comes from—no surprise—Alexander McQueen, who, when he was alive, seemed to truly have a hate on for women. I think his new design team carries his torch, taking a literal approach to cross-dressing. With all the lapel and cowlick traversing the AM jewelry demands, I’d need two hours to get ready every morning and seven to undress after happy hour. And, if I wore the AM pieces, I would probably end up drinking alone at that happy hour. Meanwhile, Prada presents a more charmed approach by adorning a necklace with a leopard print key, a diary, a black rose, and a mermaid the size of Barbie’s little sister Skipper. I have favorite things, too. I have things I would like to release from the keepsake box, things that just might move me closer to some spiritual world and joy, but is there really a place I can go wearing each daughter’s first pair of Nike baby sneakers around my neck? I don’t know. There is so much potential with this type of adornment and just as much risk of looking like you need a prescription refill. Approach the charms, I say, but approach with caution. 


5. Slippers Are Not an Accessory

The design team at ICB said they were thinking of the busy Manhattan woman who would be comfortable throwing her mink coat over her jammies for a late night run to Whole Foods. I think they just forgot to count rows while knitting and had to come up with a venture capital version of “the dog ate my homework.” Their knitwear is promoted as cozy, but sized for orangutans. Their slippers seem crafted from the poor great ape’s hair. If emergency ice cream run clothes are to be called “accessories” now, we should at least be covering our parts in something that will 1) give us the confidence to buy the more expensive ice cream and 2) not frighten the night clerk. The star of The Hunger Games swears by Haney’s designs, and I agree. I also agree that it would be a good idea to find the cold winter equivalent of Haney’s cover-up, which can be found at Creatures of Comfort, and everywhere on Elmwood, in Williamsville, and beyond. 


4. Bracelets on Top

Why not? Bracelets on top of gloves, on top of sweaters, on top of your coat. It may not be convenient if you are in and out of your outerwear. It may increase the risk of loss for your special piece. But choose your occasions and remember, life is short. This may give you an excuse for buying the new type of long glove. It covers your arm, but is cut off at knuckle level. No fingers. Not what we think of as fingerless, though. It’s more like a too long sweater. It hangs, but not orangutan long. Did I say it covers the arms? This is a great idea, and creates the perfect background for displaying your best bracelets.


In a neck emergency, belt, knot, bejewel, wrap, button, or hide, by Sonia Rykiel,Chanel, Dior, Pam & Gela, Thomas Maier,  Altewai Saome, and Trina Turk


3. The Neck Protector

I’m guessing from the people who have brought us foundations in shades of morgue, yellow eyeshadow, and blood pudding lipstick, we get new and improved chokers. I hate my neck, so I should love these. But isn’t the point of having a neck all about doing whatever it takes to keep it working? To me, this translates into breathing, and any situation that challenges my ability to inhale makes me claustrophobic. That is the only reason I can think of for all the unnatural swallowing I do when I look at the new uber chokers on display this year. Some look like piano wire, as if they should come with a mobster ready to pull and twist. I know that’s the point. It’s supposed to look like it comes with a safety word. I’m just saying, no thank you. Some chokers look like little belts, and little belts are not subtle, which tells me somebody’s trying too hard to get attention. Oddly enough, I don’t feel that way about the giant button of a choker created by Altewai Saome. The button choker wins my respect on guts alone. I just hope it comes with an extra button. The knotted scarf, I’ll try, even though I will see the edges of the ties and spend too much of my day trying to swat them away, and too many minutes hoping I don’t look like a Pan Am flight attendant. But I will. It should be a snap, though, to adapt to Christian Dior’s choker creation: a scarf held in place with a silver chain and a pretty stone. I don’t know if they are for sale yet, but I have printed out the image and will put it on my refrigerator door, where it will stay until report cards come. 


2. The Hat 

Hat declarations are not easy to find. Not everybody needs a hat, so why spill the ink on them? Well, because some of us need them, and because they are a nightmare to get right. So here is great news. Ralph Lauren in his Polo collection features hats so prominently that that hatmakers are doing one thing better: making them just enough outsized. They keep the head warm, they don’t ruin your hair, and they won’t fly away. Polo’s traditional stylings come in knit and felt and suede, and look like they might actually look good on. If you want something just as functional but a little more signature, look for the Chanel topper, or the velvet fedora from Zuhair Murad, a purple (or black or brown or blond) leather bomber from Nikolas K, a camel-colored knit safari-style from Steven Alan, or a hat with room to grow up and up and up from Fenty X Puma by Rihanna. 


1. Nothing.

I had reserved this for a stunning piece of jewelry from Dior’s Granville Estate collection, but then I began absently glancing through Norma Kamali’s look book and found myself smiling. The model wore nothing but material and energy. I reviewed Tim Coppens’ youngster stuff and decided that the decorative stitching on the guy’s sweater was as good as a brooch. And so the top spot went to a gentle reminder. There are days when the best accessory is a great attitude. It is usually affordable and never goes out of style. 


Oh, and Chanel called. They found your missing pearl earring and asked if they could use it to adorn a new shoe. 


No jewelry goes to waste at Chanel



Longtime Spree contributor Catherine Berlin now lives in Sweden.

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