Howard County shopping: Fabulous vs. frugal

The economy has been in the doldrums for a few years, and the fashion industry has responded with the “minimalism” trend. Well, guess what? Enough is enough -- fashion is busting loose for Holiday 2011! It is time to celebrate fashion with color, high-tech fabrics, curvy movie star silhouettes, innovative design, luxury and beauty.

With deference to the economic situation, I would like to introduce four hot trends and demonstrate three ways to get mileage out of each.

Deep colors and gemtones. Brace yourself for real color this season. Black is never out, but this season it will be overshadowed by the richness of fantastic color. In watching the Holiday 2011 Gucci show, I was struck not only by the richness of the colors but how anyone on a budget could copy some of those great looks. Talbots’ Grace-Fit corduroy blazer is stunning in cyan (Gucci style) or cabernet.

1. This rich little jacket could be worn over your favorite little black dress. Add a narrow black belt and cinch at the waist.

2. The Grace-Fit jacket buttons up high and is adorable for a casual holiday party worn as a blouse and paired with jeans and heels.

3. For the office, this jacket looks oh-so-savvy with wide-legged trousers with a bold color bow tied blouse.

The Dress. Janina Huff, fashion coordinator for Simply Divine Boutique in Fulton, says, “Maybe it’s because ‘Madmen’ is such a hit, but the dress is making a huge comeback. Sophisticated 1960s look with high-waist dresses and full skirts is going to be popular -- red lipstick and all!”

1. Worn solo with high heel sling-backs, the curvy dress is perfect for the office party.

2. Wrap it with a short brightly colored cardigan for a super-retro look that is perfect for a date at the museum.

3. Pairing the dress with the above-mentioned blazer makes a presentation that is professional and super-feminine.

The Fedora. This statement hat has been gaining popularity over the last two years. This holiday it is extra gangster in black. Try a men’s fedora for a little oversized look.

1. Wear the fedora for warmth. (Remember, that’s what they were actually designed for.) The fedora will update any wool classic.

2. The fedora is perfect for a casual-chic party. It’s super-sexy with jeans. Joanne Akin of Liquid Blue Denim boutique in Fulton says, “This holiday season, the hot looks in jeans are leather-look denim and dark flared-leg tailored jeans. To complete the look, add a great sweater in the new lurex inspired knit fabrics.”

3. Although menswear inspired, the fedora with a skirted suit is ultra-feminine and very “Casablanca.”

Sequins. They are everywhere! Huff says, “You’re going to see them in dresses, shoes and clutches. ... A great way to add some holiday bling to your outfit.” J.Crew’s crystal-sequined bow tie is a small accessory that can really transform.

1. Jazz up any blouse, even a boring white one.

2. A strapless dress cries out for this blingy tie around a bare neck.

3. Moving upstairs, this little bow tie doubles as a fancy hair accessory.

Exciting fashion will lift your spirits this season and brighten your smile. Happy holidays!

Jeannette Kendall is president of Success In Style, a nonprofit with locations in Ellicott City and North Laurel that provides free business attire to disadvantaged women and men seeking employment. or 410-750-6475.

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