It’s a crazy changing jewelry world in El Paso

It’s was big El Paso news, verging on the excitement level of gossip, when Lacy & Company announced their Going-Out-of-Business Sale in November.

Ellen and Charles Lacy built an amazing jewelry business that had taken care of El Pasoans for over two decades.  But retirement beckoned and they heeded the siren call.

Since then, El Paso jewelry retailers and customers have been atwitter about changes.  Customers immediately began asking us as Tres Mariposas, “What are we going to do?  It won’t be the same.”

Although national jewelry store operator Ben Bridge has taken Lacy’s space, I predict that not one jewelry store will replace them. Different stores are strong in different areas.

So here’s a quick update on how the retail jewelry landscape is changing.  It’s my job to keep you up with the gossip!

  • Ben Bridge Jeweler, 7040 N. Mesa St.  Ben Bridge is a well-known chain of jewelry stores. Their new El Paso store, which they are calling “Ben Bridge Jeweler, formerly Lacy & Co” is stocked with core Ben Bridge merchandise with the icing sprinkled on top by Ellen Lacy.
  • Deutsche & Deutsche Fine Jewelry and Watches, Fountains at Farah.  With stores in McAllen, Laredo and Houston, Deutsche & Deutsche is taking advantage of the changes in the El Paso market, and taking the leap to the new Fountains mall.  You may have already seen their teaser billboards.  Deutsche & Deutsche is especially known for watches.
  • J. Edwards Diamonds, 7430 N. Mesa St. and 1840 Joe Battle Blvd. These stores are known for their amazing bridal business. Gina Silverman of J. Edwards says they haven’t seen an impact from local changes.  Gina is remodeling the Westside store so watch for a glamorous update.
  • Jewel Gallery, 7134 N. Mesa. Linda Medrano has carved a niche specializing in estate jewelry.
  • Johnson Jewelers, 5860 N. Mesa St. and 1320 N. Zaragoza Rd.  El Pasoans know Randy Johnson from his ad campaigns, “I want to be your jeweler.”
  • Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry and Watches, 5857 N. Mesa St.  Susan is a brilliant master gemologist and artist.  She has created a special niche in helping clients with estate planning and appraisals.
  • Sheldon Jewelry, 5446 N. Mesa St.  One of the oldest businesses in our city, this store was founded in the old Sheldon Hotel in 1912. The well-loved Kligman family has owned the store for decades.
  • Tres Mariposas, 5857 N. Mesa St.  The fine jewelry segment of our business had already grown tremendously over the last five years.  We thought that with this change in the market, why not take our jewelry focus to the next level?  Former Lacy & Company employees Carmen Bagby and Flori Trudeau approached me about bringing their expertise and energy to Tres Mariposas – and I was thrilled.  We are now constructing a new Jewelry Boutique within Tres Mariposas to accommodate more fine jewelry lines with a fashion focus.

So there you have it: a look at El Paso’s jewelry landscape! A rising tide lifts all boats and all of us retailers can benefit from the exciting developments on the horizon.

20th Annual YWCA Luncheon: Better Than Ever

I have two questions. First, how do they do it?  Every year, the women of the YWCA have an incredible speaker at their annual April luncheon – and every year it gets better. I’ve long had a special interest in the YWCA, and I eagerly anticipate this annual event. This year’s guest is world-class financial guru Suze Orman. What a coup for this important fundraiser!

USA Today has called Orman “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse.” A two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times bestselling author, magazine and online columnist, and a highly sought-after motivational speakers, Orman has it all: fame AND brains, style AND substance.

As a numbers person, an accountant by training, I’m interested in what she has to say. But as a fan of fashion, my second question is this: What she will wear?

It’s no accident that a dynamo like Suze has an amazing wardrobe and always looks great. However, it’s not just a matter of income: I think that most successful women know the positive impact of personal style.

In my opinion, Suze is a very smart and savvy woman who has made personal style part of her success.  So how does she do it?  And what tips might there be for the rest of us? Let’s think about what we can learn from her.

  • Her style is genuine.  Suze Orman’s style is a reflection of her bright personality and her common sense approach to life.  She hasn’t copied someone else.  She doesn’t flip flop who she is from year to year.
  • Color.  Orman uses the power of color to her advantage and she likes solid colors. She doesn’t get stuck in a black rut like some of us do (who, me?)

    Face framing perfection

    Face framing perfection

Face Framing Take Two!

Face Framing Take Two!

  • The flattering face-framing neckline.  Orman use collars to her advantage.  She often turns up the collar up to frame her face, or wears a neckline designed to illuminate her face.
Relaxed but oh so stylish!

Relaxed but oh so stylish!

  • Sporty-relaxed-modern-classic style.  Orman’s style doesn’t fit in a single category – she picks what works for her across the board. She does not stray into the showy-trendy styles and yet she does not come across as stuffy. On the other hand she uses classic like wonderful woven cotton shirts and tailored pants.
Lengthy aspirations!

Lengthy aspirations!

  • Great Jackets.  Orman knows her body type and knows she looks great in longer length jackets. She’s right.
Luxurious leather.

Leather Jackets are just right!

  • Leather.  She wears leather jackets often. I agree, you can’t beat a leather jacket — versatile, luxurious, and easy.
  • Hair style.  Orman keeps her do smart, short, and casual.  Short hair and highlights, especially for someone with her golden tan, are proven strategies for a more youthful look.
  • Appropriate use of jewelry.  TV personalities know you can’t go on air with giant jewelry and clunky bracelets to jingle into the microphone and flash off the camera. Orman doesn’t go overboard with accessories; she usually accents with earrings and a simple necklace that enhance her style and add to her glow.

Camouflage clothes: In fashion and in real life

Nan and her son Creed in Arizona

Nan and her son Creed in Arizona

Sometimes I write about fashion trends that are on a high. Other times I tell you about a trend that doesn’t really fly. Camouflage prints – those mottled olive green and gray patterns – are one of those trends that work elsewhere, but not here.

On my recent buying trips I saw a lot of camouflage prints trending for fall. I saw all kinds of camouflage prints on shoes, handbags, pants, shirts, and accessories. However, my experience with previous surges in camouflage fashion wear has taught me that this is not a favorite trend of El Paso women. So you won’t be seeing many camo-print items at Tres Mariposas this year.

On the other hand, over the last few years, I have developed a whole other kind of interest in my camouflage clothing, an awareness that was heightened this weekend. Lots of mothers can relate to my reason for this interest: I have a son serving in the military.

My husband and I took a weekend road trip to Tucson, the home of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to see him and I couldn’t have been more proud. Creed recently returned from Afghanistan, where he flew rescue missions, piloting high-tech Pave Hawk helicopters.

Creed has done an excellent job of trying to protect his mom from fearful thinking. “Oh, Mom, this deployment (his third), I’m pretty bored.  Not so much to do.”  This has fed so nicely into my tendency toward denial!

Now that he is back, I learned that, yes, he was bored some.  But in between the boredom, he and his crew were doing their real job:  flying into the heat of battle, facing enemy fire, and working their high adrenaline butts off to save the critically wounded.

You may have caught the very interesting National Geographic Series “Inside Combat Rescue,” where embedded cameramen followed Creed’s unit for four months. The series premiered in February.

Watching the program, I was keenly aware of how strong my denial had been. I am so relieved that he is back in the States! We had a great weekend, including fine dining at Anthony’s in Tucson and a mind-cleansing hike in the beautiful Sonoran Desert mountains. For a brief while, we were able to put military camouflage out of our minds.

“Now, for the first time in history, the United States Air Force is allowing cameras to follow these highly skilled airmen, with advanced medical training, to war…. With strategically placed cameras on airmen’s helmets and more than 40 cameras mounted both inside and outside of the Air Force’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, National Geographic Channel joins more than two dozen active missions, capturing each heart-pounding, unfiltered moment of war as never before. “When a soldier is down and time is running out, an elite unit of Air Force rescue warriors will risk their own lives to rescue those injured and clinging to life. In Afghanistan and around the world, Pararescuemen or PJs; their leaders, Combat Rescue officers; and their PaveHawk helicopter teammates fly into the heat of battle, often facing imminent enemy threats, to save the critically wounded. They’re part warrior, part guardian angel, part medic and ALL hero.” -- from National Geographic Channel’s program notes

“Now, for the first time in history, the United States Air Force is allowing cameras to follow these highly skilled airmen, with advanced medical training, to war…. With strategically placed cameras on airmen’s helmets and more than 40 cameras mounted both inside and outside of the Air Force’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, National Geographic Channel joins more than two dozen active missions, capturing each heart-pounding, unfiltered moment of war as never before.
“When a soldier is down and time is running out, an elite unit of Air Force rescue warriors will risk their own lives to rescue those injured and clinging to life. In Afghanistan and around the world, Pararescuemen or PJs; their leaders, Combat Rescue officers; and their PaveHawk helicopter teammates fly into the heat of battle, often facing imminent enemy threats, to save the critically wounded. They’re part warrior, part guardian angel, part medic and ALL hero.”
– from National Geographic Channel’s program notes

 

Printed pants: The Next Big Thing

Nan’s sister came to town and the first thing she did was buy printed pants!

Nan’s sister came to town and the first thing she did was buy printed pants!

DSC03119

DSC03105

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women are continuing to wear slacks this season, but you’ll find nothing ho-hum or boring about the next big trend in pants. For spring and summer, it’s all about the print.

Printed pants are fun, playful, and a great change of pace from those everyday black pants. Today’s popular prints range from dots and animal prints to florals and graphic patterns.

Print pants are one of those trends that can look fantastically chic. Or, when the look is not executed well, they can be a “Fashion Don’t.”

A few tips for wearing printed pants:

  • Wide-leg print pants in flowy fabrics are wonderful for social occasions. Just be sure you don’t wear them too short. This pant needs to fall below the ankle, not above.
  • Big floral or graphic patterns can be beautiful on wide, palazzo style pants. However, on more tailored pants or jeans, choose small- or medium-sized prints.
  • Keep the rest of the outfit simple. Pair print pants with a beautiful sold soft silky shirt in a neutral shade. Likewise, don’t choose an overly patterned handbag or distracting jewelry. Let the print of the pants be the star.
  • You’ll see prints against all hues of backgrounds. A rule of thumb here is that a dark background for print pants will be more slimming.

I was glad to have my sister from Amarillo in town last week. As usual, she wanted to come into Tres Mariposas to look around. She went right for the printed pants and looked great in a variety of graphics.

The next time you’re shopping, give print pants a try. You might be surprised what an impact they can make on your spring-time look!

Spring cleaning for your closet: Organizing Tips

Does your closet look like this?

Does your closet look like this?

Spring has sprung! Temperatures are rising and women are pulling out cute spring-ish fashions and even some summer-ish styles to stay cool during our warm afternoons. With Daylight Savings Time in place, I feel like we are well on our way to cocktails on the patio and dinners on the deck. Summer is around the corner!

We are also just a few days away from Easter Sunday and in Passover, two more milestones for the season, and everyone’s just loving getting together with family and friends for the holidays.

What does all this mean to your wardrobe? It’s time for the old closet switcheroo! Here are my Top Ten Tips for organizing for spring 2013 – along with notes on a worthy cause that might motivate you to tackle this task right away.

  1. Get out your supplies: a stepladder to reach high shelves, clear plastic bags for storage, extra hangers, and a notepad for your spring shopping list.
  2. Start with the golden rule of closet organizing: If you haven’t worn it in a year or it doesn’t fit you well, get rid of it. Donate it to someone who will wear it and be glad to have it. When you come across things you’re on the fence about, go ahead and donate. You know you’ll be glad you did. Start building a pile for donations.
  3. Next, pull out your “keeper” winter jackets, pants, sweaters, and tops that you won’t wear again until next fall. Put aside your fur coats to take to storage. Check out all those fall and winter clothes that need to be laundered or dry-cleaned before you put them away for the season. Start the washing machine and make a dry cleaning pile.
  4. Put plastic bags over the pieces that are ready and haul them to your guestroom closet, your under-bed storage boxes, or wherever you move your out-of-season clothes.
  5. Leave transition-type clothes in the closet for another couple of months, such as long-sleeve knit tops. You can cull those out in May.
  6. Now move to the spring/summer things currently hanging in your out-of-season closet. Take a hard look at the outfits and try them on if necessary. Begin the “keep or donate” sorting piles for those spring items.
  7. Then put the “keepers” in your current season closet. People have different ways of organizing their closets. I like to group jackets, pants, skirts, jeans, dresses and tops separately. Then I hang them from lightest colors to darkest.
  8. Move on to shoes and handbags. Go through the same season-switching process: evaluate and sort.
  9. Once your spring things are hanging up or shelved, look for wardrobe gaps and make a shopping list. Maybe you need colorful new tops to update basic outfits. Maybe you need something special for an upcoming wedding. Maybe you have some great evening shoes and would love to have a dress to go with them.
  10. Pack up the piles to dry clean or donate and enjoy your new closet!

Now, about that worthy cause: I’m sure you are familiar with the YWCA’s innovative Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center. This nationally acclaimed program provides housing to homeless women (and their children) who are working to get back on their feet. The TLC has a terrific track record for changing women’s lives.

Some women come to the TLC with very, very few possessions. The center continually needs gently used clothing and accessories to give them both wardrobe basics and appropriate ensembles for interviewing and working. For years Tres Mariposas has invited women to drop off nice clothing for these women at our Westside store (5857 North Mesa Street in Century Plaza). We’ll even mail you tax-deductible donation receipts.

This year, the Center needs about $1,350 to upgrade their security system. At Tres Mariposas, our goal is to collect 1,350 pieces of gently used clothing and accessories for the TLC – and then we will match that with a  $1,350 donation for the TLC security system.

We hope to complete the clothing collection campaign by April 25, the YWCA’s annual fundraising luncheon, and to give them our check that day. Suze Orman, the financial guru known for helping women achieve financial independence, is speaking at the luncheon; it should be an excellent presentation.

I’ll update you on the campaign next month as we get closer to our deadline. Meanwhile, tackle your closet and donate your clothes!

Shoe Organization.  Closet Nirvana!

Shoe Organization. Closet Nirvana!

 

Don't forget the jewelry too!

Don’t forget the jewelry too!

 

Fashion Forecast: Notes from New York Market

Image

As I wrote last week, I’ve been to market in New York City twice this spring; our second trip took us to the annual spring Fashion Coterie at Jacob Javits Convention Center.   This is a huge show of women’s apparel from some 5,000 exhibitors spread out over a half a million square feet. With about 20,000 buyers and other industry attendees, this is a busy place during its three-day run every February.

The fashion industry categorizes apparel according to price point, with labels starting at mass market (or budget) and moving up through moderate, private label (a department store brand such as Charter Club at Macy’s), contemporary, better, secondary lines (such as Marc by Marc Jacobs), bridge, designer, and lastly, couture. The Coterie offers clothes in the better, bridge, and designer categories.

We like to shop the Coterie because of its incredible variety of designers, all vying to become the next big thing. Unless you are a real industry insider or a “Women’s Wear Daily” reporter or something, you will have never heard of the vast majority of the exhibitors filling the shared showrooms and major spaces.

What we want to do is discover the best of these new names while keeping the well-known designers our customers love. That’s what I like about the whole buying process – that combination of fresh and familiar, talent search and tradition.

We also like the Coterie because it provides a great preview of trends, both new and continuing. Here are some pieces and places that caught my.

 

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

 

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

 

It's the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

It’s the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

 

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

 

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

 

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.

 

 

 

 

Fresh and fun: Trip Diary in Pictures


On a busman’s holiday: Shopping at Bergdorf Goodman and admiring their incredible Japanese Hanging Gardens display

Luxury Showroom: Escada makes a beautiful dress and it was a pleasure to visit their fabulous showroom.

As you know from my previous columns about market trips, a buying consultant previews all the lines, keeps abreast of trends, analyzes what is selling well in stores, and saves us a lot of time at market. For the last two decades, we have working with one of the premier New York buying consultants, a woman who came to totally understand what El Paso women liked to wear and who expertly shepherded our showroom buying.

Well, this consultant recently retired, so now we’re working with another highly recommended consultant.

Model at the Red Valentino Showroom: This line is for our feminine customers who love ribbons and ruffles.

Studying the style: Bobbie Baldridge and Monica Armendariz debate the merits of a dress at Escada

Our get-to-know-you trip was so fun! She wanted us to see some fabulous, fresh new lines from designers who were closing off their orders before our long-planned trip for the Coterie show a week later. The European designers she knew were particularly innovative and appealing. Their order deadlines were upon us so we had to work fast.

Throughout our exciting tour, the consultant kept watching how our lead buyer Bobby Baldridge, our longtime sales guru Monica Armendariz, and I reacted to each new line. She gauged our responses to quickly learn about our different customers, from sophisticated chic to free-spirited and stylish.

Watch our store’s inventory starting next fall as we bring in classics as well as introduce new designers to the border region!

Sneak Preveiw: Gorgeous dresses from Tadashi to try on at Tres Mariposas this fall

Writing an order: Nan Napier and Bobby Baldridge working hard to get every detail

Stripes: Around and around we go!

Image

 

“Never, ever wear horizontal stripes.” Have you ever heard that old fashion mandate? “Stripes going around your body make you look fat.” Huh?

Well, guess what: not only has that style myth been disproven scientifically, it’s also contrary to one of the hottest trends around right now. We’re seeing horizontal stripes everywhere, and on all sizes of women.

If you want scientific proof, a few years ago, a psychology prof at the University of York in England and an expert in perceptions, published a whole paper on the stripe phenomenon in a scientific journal that studied “biological vision.”

He analyzed how experimental subjects perceived women of the same sizes wearing vertical and horizontal stripes. It turns out that women wearing horizontal stripes appeared thinner, not heavier. It was the vertical lines that added visual pounds. And in fact, horizontal stripes help women appear taller, as well. Interesting!

In all my long and glorious career in fashion, women would never wear horizontal stripes.  Thank goodness that over the last couple of years, stripes have been so fashionable that women have been willing to break that rule – and finding that horizontal stripes can be not only fun, but also flattering.

From fashion show runways and city streets to offices and schools, horizontal stripes continue to be a major fashion trend for 2013 for women of all ages and shapes. Black and white stripes, multi-colored stripes, variations of stripe directions in one dress: you’ll see some great pieces in stores right now to tempt you to give stripes a chance.

Try a top, a dress, or even just an accessory, like the Kate Spade purse shown here. Just in case you are still hesitant to break that old horizontal stripe rule, here are some great photos of outfits to prove the point!

 

 

 

 

Crazy for cobalt: Go for the blue

I have mentioned recently that we are in a trend cycle where color is the No. 1 element.

What a great stroke of luck! Color is the easiest way to make a statement, whether it’s changing the paint color on an accent wall or adding a colorful scarf to an outfit.

One day last week when I was reviewing new spring merchandise that had arrived at Tres Mariposas, I was overwhelmed with the amount of vivid cobalt blue and royal blue. Beautiful!

Cobalt is a flattering medium blue that works really well as a stand-alone solid or mixed with different shades of greens, aquas or corals and even tan or black. For a clean, crisp look to carry you through all of spring and summer, go for cobalt blue and white.

I recommend a cobalt handbag, a dash of cobalt in a scarf, a cobalt silk blouse, cobalt jeans and, of course, a little cobalt blue in just the right jewelry.

Some of my favorite models – Mary Lee Hughes, Emily Mouland and Aradne Lechuga – were at Tres Mariposas last week, helping us with the very successful and fun El Paso Pro-Musica High Tea fundraiser at the store. The two tried on some pieces in cobalt blue and they look great in them. You will, too!

Wear what you like, what looks good on you

Slim, trim jeans in bright, bold colorsAre short skirts in? Yes.

Are long skirts in? Yes.

Are muted pastels in? Yes.

Are bold neon colors in? Yes.

You get the drift.

Today women’s fashion trends are spun out so fast that dozens of trends, even contradictory ones, are whirling around at the same time.

With so many different themes and styles, fashion becomes a blur and then no trend stands out.

Why are trends important? Throughout fashion history, from ancient Egypt to 21st-century El Paso, women have watched what other women wear. I can’t speak for Egyptian empresses, but I know that here, we don’t want to wear the same ol’ thing year after year. We want to be up-to-date.

In the past, fashion’s “mandates” were very distinctive. When I started in this business, the most often-asked question was, “What will be this season’s hemline length?” No one wanted to be caught with her skirt long when it was supposed to be short.

Then there were trends like big broad shoulders or low, belly-baring jeans. Women devoured the trend of the moment – even when it didn’t look good on them.

Today, there are still trends, but they tend to evolve and not be set in stone. Fashion insiders are no longer able to deem something a must-have. Women are more likely to choose styles that flatter them while retaining an au currant look.

So even if we think we need some fashion direction, that clearly defined direction is not so clear anymore. What should women do?

The answer: “Wear what we like.”

Wear what you enjoy, what looks good on you. Keep an eye on evolving trends that give you a current edge and freshness – and then pick and choose outfits within those styles that suit you. Some of the key trends right now include:

• Graphic black and whites

• Slim, trim pants

• Soft outfit completers like cardigans or ponchos instead of hard-edged blazers

• Peekaboo details including open backs, envelope backs and cut-out detailing

• Color blocking, especially zingy in handbags

• Stripes – bold and thin, vertical and horizontal

• Emerald green or mint green

I’ve written about this last trend before: Emerald green is the Pantone Color Institute’s 2013 Color of the Year. It’s interesting how this company, known for providing standardized colors to graphic designers, interior designers, fashion designers, and other professionals, has capitalized on the trend blur.

Pantone filled the void created by too many trends by stepping in and proclaiming a single color of the year. Last year, you may remember, it was tangerine orange. If women are going to choose styles that are flattering or that fit their personality instead of ones that are decreed, then color trends become more important.

The Pantone Institute studies cultural trends and moods and picks a color that hasn’t been “in” for a while, otherwise it can’t be new; and that fits the psyche of the moment. Greens are being described as the color of growth in 2013, the color of well being, balance and harmony, and the color of jewels and money.

While Pantone has decreed a strong emerald green as the color of the moment, I would say the fashion industry’s darling color this spring is a bright mint green. I think emerald will emerge more as we go into fall 2013.

The bottom line when it comes to following trends is fashion liberation. With all the options out there, pick a few new styles or themes that are flattering for you and enjoy.

Trends aren’t quite what they used to be. Neither are women. Hear us roar. Watch us have fun. Let freedom reign!