Tips from the streets of NYC

Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 01:00

FASHION:What the people who go to the shows are wearing is as interesting to lovers of fashion as what goes down the catwalks, writes ROSEMARY Mac CABE

FOR SOME time now, street-style bloggers have been a staple of the fashion media, especially of the major events, such as the recent New York Fashion Week. The best known bloggers are the surprisingly diminutive Scott Schuman of; Tommy Ton of; Caroline Blomst of stockholm-streetstyle.comand Phil Oh of

Coverage is now split between the catwalks and the pavements, where another show altogether is under way.

The attendees become the models – lithe, well dressed young men and women wearing clothes in fresh, unexpected and exciting ways – and we, the consumers, begin to look to the streets, as well as the catwalks, for inspiration.

High fashion and street fashion have different agendas. While the former seeks to inform us about what trends we will be adopting en masse in the coming season, the latter encourages us to seek out the original in our clothing choices. One preaches uniformity, the other, individuality.

These photographs of attendees at New York Fashion Week show that eclecticism of individuality will win out every time – though certain photographs may elicit feelings of confusion and even revulsion, one must admit a grudging admiration for these trail-blazers who refuse to walk to the beat of the fashion world’s drum.

I’d rather spend my life wearing a series of mismatched prints, oversized hats and ridiculous shoes than while away my days in shades of grey and monochrome.

Eclectic dressing may not work all of the time, but Schuman will never spot me if I’m wearing jeans and a hoody, will he?

So what lessons can we learn from street style?


Yes, there is such a thing as a capsule wardrobe and, yes, some items will never go out of fashion but, by that same token, they will never come all the way in, either.

There is a reason why you will rarely see anyone at a fashion show snapped wearing blue jeans, a white shirt and a black blazer (unless that person is Olivia Palermo) and that’s because, though this may be “chic”, this is not interesting.

Fashion should and can be daring, exciting, surprising and even, at times, slightly offensive. It should never be dull.


There is no bag too large, no stack of bracelets too over-the-top, no hat too “out there”, when it comes to the front row. But in life, it’s worth bearing in mind that we have most definitely moved from an era of minimalist “chic” (blame Coco and her “take one thing off” mantra) to an era of maximalist expressionism. The more – patterns, bracelets, fabric, and so on – the better.


If you live your life by the rules that navy and black should never meet, and red and pink are from two entirely different schools of thought, you are in for a rough awakening.

Though we may not want to dress head to toe in wallpaper patterns in our everyday lives, there is something refreshing about how definitely the rulebook has been torn up. Viva la revolución!


My baby is four months old and I still wear maternity clothes

I recently had a baby and I’m finding it really hard to dress myself. My son is four months old and I don’t feel like I’ve lost any of the pregnancy weight. I’m still going around in my maternity jeans and smock tops, because I just don’t feel comfortable with my stomach on show or in anything tight. Do you have any bright ideas? I don’t think I can get away with wearing maternity stuff non-stop and I’m trying to lose the weight but finding it really difficult.

Gráinne, by email

Gráinne, you need to give yourself a really big break. And perhaps get a massage, followed by a large glass of red wine. Four months is no time at all and your body is still recovering from childbirth – which, lest we forget, is a big deal – not to mention the fact that you are now dealing with the often very stressful reality of having a small baby to take care of.

My first piece of wisdom is: trust me, you can get away with wearing maternity clothes for as long as you feel like it. I have been known to venture into the maternity sections of various high-street stores (so sue me). And smock-tops are everybody’s friend. So don’t go throwing them in the bin just because you feel you should be wearing something “cooler”.

On the cool front, though, there are loads of great, forgiving clothes out there. Oasis is a great one for figure-flattering dresses and Marks & Spencer has some fabulous, high-waisted jeans and trousers that will be your friend. Think about creating vertical lines, rather than horizontal; so, for example, a blazer left open over a printed top with a pair of jeans will automatically slim you and draw attention away from your mid-section.

Ultimately, though, I think you should do three things: accept the fact that nobody in the real world is going to snap right back into shape after having a baby; cherish these few months while your son is totally and utterly reliant on you and is not in the slightest bit embarrassed by your penchant for maternity waistbands and loose T-shirts; and the next time you feel like you have nothing to wear, throw on a pair of maternity jeans, a black T-shirt and some bright red lipstick. Instant chic.

I am young, have a good body, a new man and a party invite. Help!

I am in my mid-30s and between a size 8 (on a good day) and a 10. I’m going to a wedding in a few weeks’ time and need to buy a dress. My time is limited as is my budget, to around €200, to include a bag if I need to buy one.

Shape-wise, I like dresses that are fitted. I’m not mad about my upper arms, although sleeveless is not a deal-breaker. I’d like something slightly above the knee (I’m 5ft 4in so long dresses look ridiculous on me) and black bores me to tears.

Basically, I don’t want cutesy. I’d like something a bit more sophisticated but in a style that is somewhat sexy, as I’m going with a new guy and I’d like him to only have eyes for me.

Carol, by email

Though I understand your desire to take the easy way out and have someone else do the shopping for you, your problem is – if you’ll forgive my bluntness – perhaps borne more of laziness than anything else. You have an enviable figure, which you quite fancy showing off, and a man willing to accompany you to a wedding.

If you can get over your slight arm problem, this strapless number from BCBG Max Azria (if that calls Lindsay Lohan to mind, forget it, this is not the bodycon style of yore) at (€161.98) might do the job. Men love strapless dresses because, to quote Cher Horowitz, the character from Clueless who is my sartorial (and romantic) heroine: “Show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex.” You’ll also get away with carrying a bag you already own, in pretty much any colour you want.

Though you’re not into black, this lace number from Myleene Klass’s collection for (€135) is an alternative take on the LBD. Pair it with a bright pink lip and turquoise jewellery to jazz it up.

It’s a gorgeous shape, and one that men in particular seem to appreciate for its sexy vintage vixen connotations. And it’s got a low neckline, which helps.

Ultimately, you need to bear in mind that trying to look sexy at a wedding is a tricky one. Too sexy and you risk being “that tart at Lisa and Ger’s wedding”. Not sexy enough and you risk being, “yer wan with the boobs at Lisa and Ger’s wedding”. Karen Millen, Reiss and Warehouse are good options if you like “real-life” shops and all that comes with them. But then, if I had a body like yours, maybe I’d like them too.

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