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3 Trends To Try Right Now

By the time we reach 50, we might say no to trends. We might settle back comfortably into a black safari jacket, some tasteful knit trousers, or our tried-and-true pencil skirt and blouse.

Alternatively, we might experiment, judiciously. Judiciously, I say, for trends will come and go. That’s their nature, they cannot help themselves.

The question, always, is how to invest in the ephemeral? How much of our emotional capital to plonk down on the counters of our imagination? To say nothing of dollars and department stores.

Here are some strategies, and examples plucked from the streets of now.

1. Pattern Mixing On The High Street

Whilst the Grande Dame can hie herself to Dries van Noten for a little something,

and Artsy Cousins can pattern-mix with their hands tied behind their back, we Sturdies may need help. Here’s the thing. Retailers are happy to oblige. It’s easy to one-stop shop at J. Crew, Anthropologie, or even Target. Here’s what I recently wanted to buy at J. Crew and only eschewed when I remembered I am unlikely to wear polka dot pants to work.

Duchesse’s post, here, articulates some of our generational issues with pattern-mixing. Understood. Every trend has its unpleasant extreme. But I never want to be the old woman muttering, “The world’s going to hell in a hand-basket!” To that end, I try new stuff.

2. Ankle Focus With Icons And Imitations

This is the age of the ankle. Highland Fashionista first noted this in Vogue, here, and I think she and our esteemed print colleagues are right. So we have two options: show our ankles, or cover them, just enough to draw attention. Showing ankles is pretty easy. Wear. Short. Pants. Sure, you have to experiment with just the right crop, or just the right cuff on your boyfriend jeans, but you’ll get there. Here’s a fun picture, no?

As for ankle coverage, we’re talking the ubiquitous ankle bootie. The best strategy here is to identify the trend origin. Single out the icon, which in this case is Isabel Marant’s Dickers. Barneys SF has them in black. Don’t ask me how I know. Blame Sophie if you must.

But we can also look to Zappos and find some that cost less money, or feel better on the feet, or are more practical than suede. Your choice.

3. Bright, Saturated Lips From The Masters

If you look around the blogosphere, you’ll see one vivid, saturated lip after another. I’ve tried it. Totally fun. Also, no effort at all, except in the reapplication requirements. You have to invest in a small mirror  or you’ll wind up in clown face.

I don’t recommend the drugstore here. Saturated lips require a sophisticated shade, and skin tone flattery. This is best achieved in your favorite makeup chair, at Barneys, Dillards, or Sephora. Try Armani, Illamasqua, or YSL. Totally fun. Also an excuse to sit down and let someone tend to you. No guilt, since you are absolutely going to make a purchase. Yes you are.

If you avoid the pale and the frosted my friends, this trend is ageless.

There you have it. You’ll recognize me by gray hair and blue-red lipstick. If you’re flaunting some flame yourself, I’ll wave.

43 Responses

  1. A friend and I (both 57) were discussing red lips yesterday. She has a frou frou party inNYC to go to with “big names” attending-and she is definitely a down home bohemian style type herself. We’re trying to bridge “her” with “big city” and the red lips seemed like the one thing to take her black pants/white blouse/ fab earrings look to the next step.
    I’ve been flirting with the mixed patterns by using scarves. Plaid scarf with another plaid shirt underneath-the ones I have tried “work” even though it surprised me. I think your eye has to become accustomed to the concept before you can accept it. Keep showing us pics!

  2. I literally cringed at the “pattern mixing” – a prejudice I inherited from my mother. The only thing she hated more than horizontal stripes was mixing different plaids or polka dots and checks. I just can’t do it.

    Now, having said that, I have no problem with ankle focus, since my ankles are one of the few parts of my body that have remained trim and lovely as I’ve aged. Thank goodness for small favors.

  3. I am reluctant to mix patterns. I own very little so it is not a problem.
    I do love those luxe lipsticks and feel a sit down coming on very soon!
    I’ll wave back.
    Now those booties are adorable and I bet that you know Barney’s like the back of your hand:-))

  4. I’ve been experimenting with the saturated lip color for a month or so now. Good to know I’m “on trend”. So far so good!!

  5. At the very least, being able to enjoy the inspiration of pattern mixing in a store like J. Crew, to appreciate it on younger and braver women, sparks little changes in our own approach, I think. At one point, the pattern-mixing horrified me, but my sensibilities have shifted and I try a bit, here and there, perhaps not always successfully but I have a bit of fun.
    And I’m on the ankle boots. Have the bold lipstick but not always the energy to wear it . . .

  6. I love the red pants look! I just bought red skinnies from J. Crew, I will be copying this look with my black blazer. No showing ankles yet though, given that we still have several feet of snow on the ground. Thank you Lisa!

  7. “We who are about to pattern mix salute you” for the tribal shout-out. Pattern mixing is so much fun!

    Though I have a love-hate thing with Anthropologie (love the cheerful colors and patterns, hate the “what the hell IS this garment, anyway, and how does it relate to the human form?”), I’ve always appreciated how easy they make it to pattern mix, whether you’re looking to dip your toe in via smaller-scale, sedate prints and motifs, or (take a gulp of air and possibly an aspirin) go full-bore with upholstery-scale, kaleidoscopic prints worthy of the Jenna Lyons photo in Duchesse’s post (wow, those pants are beyond the pale[!] even in the Artsy Zone). I particularly like how Anthro takes the guesswork out of mixing by frequently juxtaposing several patterns in a single garment.

    I think the key with mixing is to choose patterns that relate to each other in some way; I’m not a fan of randomly throwing prints together. Maybe that’s a factor of my age–50–since the cutting-edge and youthful Hipster Fearless gleefully (but, you know, not TOO gleefully) espouse this look.

    1. Anthropologie has mastered the art of making you want to buy something that you will never figure out where/how to wear! Personally I find that important to remember. It makes looking at their catalogs safer.

  8. I can go with the ankle bearing. The ankle boots are lovely, too (especially now that stores are marking them for clearance). Bright lipsticks might be OK, just watch the expression. You know how we mature ladies can get that Hanoverian mouth (i.e. think Queen Elizabeth) and look pretty grim. Nyet on the pattern mixing. Looks OK, sometimes, on the younger folks, but again on ladies of a certain age, it just looks like we’re dressing without our glasses and might smell like mothballs.

    1. “It just looks like we’re dressing without our glasses and might smell like mothballs”

      You are hilarious, and I enjoyed this so much! I was sipping tea as I read along, and it almost came out my nose. I know just what you mean about “Hanoverian mouth,” as well (and compliments another great turn of phrase). Enthusiastic pattern mixer that I am, I’m absolutely terrified of wearing loud lipstick.

  9. It’s taken a while, but I’m finally on board with a little bit of pattern mixing. Floral + leopard or stripes + leopard or stripes + floral. One mix per outfit, and that’s as far as I’m comfortable. But I’m loving both the ankle-length pants (you can wear with any heel height!) and ankle boots. I’m still struggling with the saturated lip. I tend to go a little sheer if the color is bright.

  10. Pattern mixing – a personal challenge. Attempting striped scarf with floral blouse or some such combo.

    Ankle pants – love! I snagged a great chestnut pair on a pre-season Land’s End sale.

    Saturated lips – meh. Looks great on others. I tend to loose interest in my lips after about 10 am. :(

    What about fingernail polish? I had lots of fun this winter experimenting with the trendy dark shades (blue and purple).

    1. Ha! I too lose interest in my lips. The mirror that came with my new cross-body bag has helped. I don’t wear fingernail polish at all – startles me too much, also it chips, also we just didn’t in my family, growing up.

  11. A big yes to the pattern mixing! Maybe the stripes and dots…but always a patterned silk scarf with a stiped or polka dotted blouse. Or a patterned shirt with a tweed jacket. Love it.

    No to the booties – always makes me think of Peter Pan.

    Perhaps to the red lips. I don’t really lead a red lips life, but you never know!

  12. Okay.
    Pattern mixing requires artistic skills.
    UGH for the booties.
    YES for a perfect red lipstick, have not yet found it, so I am mixing 2-3 to for now to get the right one.

  13. Lisa – you are probably too thin for the polka-dot pants. The most successful ones I’ve seen are on gals with shapely, if not big bottoms.

    Several co-workers have this physical attribute, and paired with a strong top, usually not patterned, they’re good looking. It’s a happy look.

  14. I think if we don’t dabble in the trends a bit we end up looking out of touch. Showing my ankles is easy, they aren’t wrinkled yet. The saturated lip always appeals to me but is trickier to wear as I loose contrast in my personal colouring.

  15. Best red (without a trace of orange) I’ve ever found is Elizabeth Arden Cranberry Cream (#02 Color Intrigue Effects, available on line for those of us who live in a no-mall zone.

  16. I have never been a pattern gel very few women get them right.

    I use to wear a warm red when younger=plumper lips.
    Dark brown/black haired women look very dramatic & elegant wearing blue red lips.Ida

  17. Mixing patterns, always have. Been doing a bright red mouth for, well since my early 20’s…I guess I’m back in fashion!
    Seriously, I think we have to find what is right for our particular look and stick with it. I believe Coco called it Style.
    I do love that you are open to experimenting, however, I recall a friend (who never missed a trend) appearing ‘punked out’ with purple streaks in her hair, short skirt and wrinkled knees. Never go that route! ( Which I’m sure you would not)

  18. For pattern mixing, I’m guided by the men, who have been doing it forever. I frequently wear my pinstriped pants with higher-contrast, larger patterned shirts, like a floral or a plaid. Or does this not count?

    I have been going back and forth on the saturated lip — sometimes I think it’s too harsh, and requires more makeup than I usually wear on the rest of my face. But then, a week ago, I tried on Armani 514 and I’m in love. This looks lush, non-drying, and really does stay for hours.

    1. I think it totally counts, and I like the history and lessons learned from men. The Armani lipstick line is amazing. I’m tempted to try out ALL the brands/variants mentioned in this comment stream.

  19. I had a very close relationship with red lips in the 90s…..we all did. But they were red lips of the burgundy…Chanel Vamp, been drinking a lot of red wine variety. Then, like so many high-intensity relationships we have in life, it cooled for about fifteen years. I’m happy to say the flame has been rekindled. I even went out and found a tube of L’oreal Russian Red, which I believe is the new version of Drumbeat Red, which we will all certainly remember. Long may it last.

  20. I love this post! These are great – I’ve tried them all with success except the pattern mixing which is next on my to do list! I had a few pairs of pants hanging around for months while I decided how much to shorten them by and I finally decided to do the radical (for me) thing and make them ankle length. The Dicker boots are fantastic and I just found my perfect pair last week, all leather (can’t maintain such a light coloured suede) and ultra simple. The bright lipstick is the most fun to adopt!

  21. I love the look of pattern mixing, but every time I try to pull together an outfit it always looks off. Or maybe I just feel awkward? I’ll keep trying and hopefully someday soon one of the outfits will make it out the front door.

    Ankle booties, though … those are a delicious, easy trend.

  22. Posts focusing on ankles make me feel bad about mine, as they are one of my ‘flaws’. I have very long legs that are not heavy, but they end in what my family called “piano legs”- no definition at the ankle. So I avoid ankle boots or shooties except for Blundstones, which because they are so chunky make any ankle look normal to slim.

    Some women look glamourous in red lipstick, a few look classically and devastatingly so, and many women look a litte crazed, not in a good way.

  23. Love the cropped pants thing, good ones at Banana Republic that I will buy when I am in the States next. I will “dignify” them with my basic Ferragamo loafers and oversize shirts. Or Jack Rogers sandals later on.

    Pattern mixing: at 55, I love tiny, discrete, tone on tone. Like Jacqueline Kennedy, I avoid prints at all costs. A really beautiful scarf can always be your pattern mix. Scarf as belt with a gorgeous striped shirt–wonderful.

    Red lipstick: Since I was 18. My signature. Chanel’s “Gabrielle” is a great shade that suits most. And you must try MAC Russian Red for saturation. Exquisite.
    For me, lip lining and using concealer around lip line to prevent bleed essential.

    Are these really trends? Or just classics revisited?

    1. Good question. I think some trends are exactly that, a long-running thread that surfaces every decade or so. Think back though, ankle boots and cropped pants are having a fairly unique moment now.

  24. yes to pattern mixing. yes to ankle boots. I don’t really do pants (except under dresses) but like the look very much on the model in your post. I only wear black, white, or black/white dots, stripes, plaid. Because I’m short & small it’s small dots, narrow stripes, and very small plaids and I will mix them up… dotted dress over plaid slip or petticoat or a striped dress over a dotted piece. I am slowly moving to only black or only white with no patterns and will probably get there by age 60 or so – about three more years. I wear one of several pairs of cydwoq or trippen lace- up ankle boots almost every day Sept – May with dresses that allow only an inch or two of stocking (sometimes another pattern mix) to show. The mixing and boots aren’t trends to me. I’ve been doing this look for a number of years.

    I really try to wear lipstick. One day I’ll manage to make it part of the routine.

  25. If you have short legs and a long waist, patterned pants are tricky. But a patterned tunic over slim BLACK pants (j.crew minnies…?) elongates as necessary, at least for those of us 5’3 and under ….who need elongating. Red lips are fabulous but can be aging, unless you have a tight chin line and full(ish) lips. I just try to go for a deeper shade of my natural lip color finished off with Bobbie Brown gloss in Petal. Ankle boots are great but I’m 59 so I need the kind with plenty of shock absorbers! I have already bid farewell to stilettos and even regular high heels..although I have a few stilettos I’ve only worn once and LOOKED great, but were agonizing….from now on, it’s flats or Audrey Hepburn kitten heels for me. Sigh.

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