Go West, young fashionista. With Glamorama's Western theme, Macy's seems, at first glance, to be bucking fall trends. But hold your horses. Here are some ways to play along without losing your sense of style (or dignity).
This year, Macy's Glamorama has a country-western theme and so, naturally, we'd like to encourage partygoers to dress the part -- without going overboard and looking ridiculous.
Why would Macy's choose such a theme for its signature runway event? There isn't exactly a country-western current running through the fall '07 collections. Macy's Trend Expert Laura Schara explained: The theme refers not to the Grand Ole Opry or "rhinestone cowboy" styles of dress. Instead, she said, she and her team will pull pieces from such high-buck designers as Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Alberta Ferretti, John Varvatos and Michael Kors; from there, they'll add subtle touches of the American West. "This will be country with a twist, " promises Schara. "Nashville and Aspen meet Miami. Rodeo meets Rodeo Drive."
With that in mind, we set out to create a few good-lookin' get-ups of our own -- ensembles that could fit a dress-up affair such as Glamorama. No, sir, it was not easy.
First, there's the general lack of au courant country couture. Also, western wear isn't exactly indigenous to the land of 10,000 fleece jackets.
It doesn't take much to tip the scales from fashion-show-appropriate to Halloween duds. The key, we found, is to incorporate Southwestern, Tex-Mex or Nashville influences -- maybe even a few ranch-hand accoutrements -- into your dressy ensemble, but with restraint, using vintage whenever possible for that touch of authenticity.
In the end, we liked three looks for the ladies: throwback Hollywood glamour-cowgirl (more Gene Tierney than Dale Evans); a more rugged, mix 'n' match Annie Oakley look also reliant upon vintage; and a more voluminous high-fashion look. For the gents, we favor polished Old-West vests and tailored suits. Think Johnny Cash more than Willie Nelson, or Hank Williams meets Wyatt Earp.
FOR THE MISSUS
Fringe: With many thanks to Miuccia Prada, this tasteful flourish is getting more and more popular in the world of fashion -- particularly in the handbag department.
Rhinestones: We're partial to brooches and, in particular, that rare vintage dress embroidered with sparkle all about the neckline.
Bolo tie: These silly ties are clichés for the gents, but when women apply them in creative ways -- perhaps as a bracelet or to pull back the hair -- the results are outstanding. If you're feeling creative, try making your own with braided leather and a brooch.
Full, pleated skirts: Picture your swishing, twirling skirt on the dance floor. We took to the vintage, painted varieties unearthed from the Corner Store.
FOR THE FELLOW
Pearl-snap shirts: Somewhere in the indie-rock movement of the 1990s, this staple of the cowboy uniform got thieved by city folk. The happy result of that appropriation is that good-looking pearl-snap shirts are now available at mainstream retailers everywhere. And they're much more subdued than their rose-embroidered forebears.
Fitted vests: Here, now, is the most moneyed man in Tombstone. Add pocket watch or monocle (but not both at once) and the look's complete.
String ties: Wear one of these slim, loosely knotted neckties and you're suddenly the star of a modern-day Medicine Show. A word of caution, however: Woe is he not fully confident in his sexuality. Your buddies might find it fairly girly (although the string-tie-favoring Johnny Cash never had that problem, even while singing "A Boy Named Sue").
Western-tailored suits: They can be difficult to chase down, but a Western-tailored suit with subtle saddle stitching and yokes (no sequins, please) is the jackpot. You'll be the most succulent piece of eye-candy at Glamorama.
FOR GUYS AND GIRLS
Giant belt buckles: Proceed with caution. The oversized buckle has become so popular that it has achieved ubiquity. But you can top your trousers with a true charmer if you hunt thrift and vintage stores for a genuine '70s-era buckle made of pewter or sterling silver -- perhaps with a turquoise embellishment. Women can soften the look with
a wide ribbon and rhinestone brooch.
Turquoise: The Southwest's standard-issue semiprecious stone, turquoise can flourish in earrings, necklaces and, for the guys, cufflinks, rings or the occasional decoration on your oversized belt buckle.
Cowboy hats: This is a sure-fire way to countrify any look. But add so much as a pair of boots to that cap and suddenly you're overcooked. Not to beat a dead horse, but when it comes to donning your "John B." (as the beloved Stetson cowboy hat is known), the key is to wear it with a simple ensemble. Our favorite is the simple, Georgia O'Keeffe-style gaucho hat. (A note on etiquette, friends: Wearing a cowboy hat to a fashion show is bad form. Consider the poor folks stuck behind you!)
Cowboy boots: In Minnesota, these kicks can come off as grotesque; we recommend pairing them only with such basics as black dresses or T-shirts and jeans. If you aim to be particularly fashion-forward, you might remember Roy Rogers when shoe-shopping this season. We favor the cowboy boot's fashion-forward first cousin, the low-cut booty. Perchance, they're mighty popular right now.
"Cowboy Cut" Wranglers: The New York Times recently printed Marc Jacobs' love letter to these no-nonsense dungarees. But Jacobs only confirmed what so many of us knew: In the world of rodeo and western fashions, Wrangler is the undisputed champ. They're even selling them at Barneys New York nowadays.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
Brit influence: "There's this whole trend that's coming out for fall that's almost a country-couture look. It has elements of English -- lots of plaid, tweed, argyle prints."
Add regional flair: "You can either have elements of the South or Southwest in what you're wearing -- for instance, I'm wearing a Temperley London dress that has a Southwestern pattern about it -- or you can add such elements, from hats to boots to belt buckles."
Laura Schara, Macy's Trend Expert
Git along, little gaudy: "Use a shirt or a blouse that has yokes and snaps -- maybe the double-snapped pockets -- but nothing with embroidery. Wear it with jeans. Don't overdo it."
LINDA ASHLAND, CO-OWNER, SCHATZLEIN SADDLE SHOP
Not too matchy-matchy: "Mix it up! You don't want to go the whole nine yards with the hat and the boots and the belt. Pair a big cowboy belt with a designer dress, or something vintage with something new."
Linda McHale, co-owner, Corner Store
Think twice on that hat: "Try using light accents, like having a great cowboy belt, with some of the new fall fashions--longer skirts, voluminous tops. I spend a lot of time in New Mexico, and I'm a big opponent of the cowboy hat in Minnesota. I don't think they belong here; they're a regional cultural thing."
Kimberle Quinn Linder, stylist