10 Reasons to start your fall shopping

Valentino

I was at market in New York last week, already shopping for resort season and spring 2013. It’s energizing and invigorating to mingle with designers and industry veterans who are full of life and are making things happen. Their optimism was absolutely contagious and we’re bringing that feeling back to El Paso.

I came home excited about what I saw and especially excited about the fall clothes just coming into stores. Here are my 10 favorite trends for this season. Keep them in mind as you shop and you will be right in style!

• Relaxed elegance. This fall, don’t push yourself to be structured, buttoned-up or stultifyingly precise. Fall fashion is about richly colored luxe fabrics in silhouettes that are easy and relaxed – beautiful flowing cardigans, interesting asymmetrical hem tunic sweaters, and easy jersey dresses.

• Rich deep jewel tones. When fashion trends stay with vibrant colors, El Paso wins. When the industry goes for beige and tan, our Tres Mariposas buyers weep. Fortunately, the colors of the season are ruby, emerald, sapphire, amethyst and topaz. Add richness, depth and vibrancy to your wardrobe with these great colors.

• Illusion. A little netting, a sheer inset, lace paneling: designers are getting creative in combining sexy and modest details. It’s coquettish to be covered yet teasing. Look for illusion detailing in both sporty and dressed-up garments.

• Panels and color blocking. Side panels on a dress can be quite flattering; they trick your eye into making you look taller and thinner. For instance, black vertical panels on either side and a bright color in the middle of a dress can be fashionable and slimming at the same time – definitely a win-win.

• Luscious flowy silk tops. Here’s where the jewel tones have a chance to shine. You’ll find interesting, wonderful opulent prints in mixes of ruby, amethyst, navy and topaz. An easy blouse over slim pants with a pair of dynamite heels or boots, and you can go anywhere.

• Python prints. Fashion can’t live without something from the world of the wild. Python prints are the reptilian design of choice this season. Look for python print blouses, sweaters and jeans.

• Bracelet mania. I’ve never been a bracelet person, but even I’ve caught the fever. Many are flexible and roll on your wrist. Piling on multiples creates interesting and unique combinations to reflect the wearer’s individuality.

• Handbags that rock. Studs are the embellishment of the year in accessories. They give any look a new edge. Cross-body and clutch styles continue.

• Tech accessories. Our cell phones, iPads and other indispensible gadgets deserve the addition of personality and color with great tech accessories. Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch are the must-have designers of cell phone covers, incredible iPad covers, and other such cases. Don’t be caught with an undressed gadget.

• Don’t forget the boots. My favorites are the low-heeled ones that come slightly above the knee. So chic. Not to mention you can wear flats and exude style at the same time!

 

Joys of owning a small business in El Paso

The exhibit

As many of you may know, Tres Mariposas is sponsoring “Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount,” now at the El Paso Museum of Art in conjunction with the Plaza Classic Film Festival.

We were happy to sponsor this colorful and educational exhibit of great movie costumes created by the award-winning designer because it was an opportunity to do something fun and fashion related.

The El Paso community has been so appreciative and quite a few people have told us how much they enjoyed the exhibit. Their appreciation has been extremely gratifying to us.

Besides having the chance to contribute to our community in this way, another fabulous benefit of owning a small business in El Paso is the opportunity to develop wonderful long-term relationships with customers.

One of those customers is Jan Foster, who is married to developer John Foster. I have joked with John many times that he is pretty doggone lucky to be married to Jan – someone so gracious and giving, so full of laughter. He agrees.

This week I learned something new about Jan. Not only does she have a big heart and a good sense of humor, she can also write poetry! I absolutely love this darling poem that I received from her.

If you also own or work at a small business, you know that having delightful customers like Jan Foster makes all the work worthwhile. This poem is getting the gold-frame treatment in my office soon!

Edith and Nan – both with a wise HEAD

One going strong – the other dead.

They share the interest of couture design.

One via costume, the other in “ready-to-wear” so fine!

Thank you, Nan, for bringing to our city to view

The decades of creations Edith drew.

Surely the attendance will deem a large count

Rewarding your efforts to the level of PARAMOUNT!

 

Fashion secret: it’s all about the fit

Elvira Eckermann

The fascinating exhibit of garments designed by costume legend Edith Head at the El Paso Museum of Art underscores not only the value of rich fabrics and innovative design, but also the fundamental, critical importance of fit in fashion.

It’s all about fit. When you see “Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount,” you notice that garments are fitted to perfection. Not pretty good, but to perfection.

Whether you are looking at a tailored suit or a finely draped evening gown, the lines of the fabrics and the seams are precise. Superb fit is a key secret of couturiers and the difference between looking good and looking amazing.

The first time I saw the exhibit, I went with my sister from Florida. All the gowns and garments hung perfectly on the dress forms that were selected and sometimes modified to mimic a particular actress’s exact body measurements.

The exhibit gave us a whole new appreciation for fit. My sister said she was going home and tossing anything that didn’t fit her perfectly.

Exhibit curator Charles Horak, founder and director of the Plaza Classic Film Festival, has said that finding the proper dress forms was much more difficult than even locating the movies shown in the festival. The process took weeks and weeks of research.

Women in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s were much smaller than today’s typical figure. For instance, the smallest dress in the exhibit – a red and white sundress worn by Elsa Cardenas in the 1963 movie “Fun in Acapulco” – features a 19-inch waist, virtually unheard of in an adult today.

The search for available small dress forms finally led to a firm in France, where women are more petite than the average American women, for whom American dress forms are designed.

The exacting work done by the costume designer who repaired each of the exhibit’s garments and matched them to dress forms reminds me of the incredibly detailed and expert work that our own alterations professionals do here at Tres Mariposas.

Alterations professionals, costume designers and restoration experts know things the rest of us wouldn’t dream of. They are true craftswomen in the sense that each task they undertake is one of a kind and requires ingenuity and creativity.

The lead alterations professional at Tres Mariposas is Elvira Eckermann. We often call her our in-store magician. Her world is about exacting fit, detailed work, and making women look much, much better.

Proper alterations will show a gorgeous woman off to her best. Similarly, good alterations can camouflage the less-than-perfect body.

For instance, Elvira says that a woman with a small waistline should not be wearing a so-so fitting garment that hides her beautiful waist.

Often a waistline needs to be shortened or shaped to better fit a client, she said. But how many people know that they can look significantly better in a dress with the right tailoring?

It’s amazing how much difference a simple alteration can make, like shortening sleeves or adjusting a side seam.

But not all alterations are simple by any stretch. Elvira says one of the most challenging alterations is narrowing the shoulders of a garment, which requires absolute precision for the best fit.

First the seamstress takes off the sleeves and carefully recuts the shoulder line. Then the sleeves are carefully sewn back into the modified armhole, a task requiring considerable skill, says Elvira. Truly it is the work of an experienced expert.

Whether one of Elvira’s alterations customers buys a garment from our store or brings in something she’s bought elsewhere, the goal is to make her – and her outfit – look great.

Any woman interested in looking her best would do well to focus on fit while shopping. You are likely to find that higher-end clothing tends to be designed for proper fit, rather than just what is the most economical use of fabric.

Yet even the most expensive garment can sometimes be improved for better fit with expert alterations, the kind of tailoring that Hollywood actresses had in their movie studios’ costume departments.