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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There is nothing more frightening than realizing you have become a casualty of your own “Mission to Conquer Fashion.” I came to this realization suddenly and abruptly, every morning during my study-abroad experience in Paris.

Each morning I would attempt to complete the everyday task of exiting my miniscule, closet-less room to attend class. As I would reach for the doorknob, I would pause, barely breathing, and say a deep prayer that the overloaded, rickety metal rack upon which my jackets hung would not be disturbed by the atmospheric movement that the door inevitably caused. For if it was, the rack would fall over onto yours truly, creating a domino effect.

Jackets, belts, dresses, in short the never-ending ocean of my closet, precariously draped from every hanging object in my room and myself would end up in a glorious heap on the floor. All this would of course be accompanied by a deafening crash. This would always be followed by my over-attentive landlady bursting into my room screaming very loudly in a torrent of French to make sure I had not been knocked unconscious or strangled by a hanger or other flying accessory.

As you can imagine, when this happened, the disruption to my daily pre-class “café au lait et pain au chocolat” ritual caused me no end of distress. After many bruises, two ripped outfits, and one sprained ankle, I realized I had to stage an intervention.

As I weeded out my closet one night with my friends, Wine and Brie, I realized I could actually create more fashion ensembles with fewer pieces. The key to smarter fashion strategy, and apparently surviving my room, was color combination.

 Just as Mediterranean women of the Amalfi coast and the trendsetters of London embrace color creativity, so can we. And what better time than Spring to clean out the closet and incorporate the bright colors heretofore reserved for your recent Spring Break beach vacation?

The key to incorporating brights and matching colors into your wardrobe is an awareness of the color palette. Often designers will combine different colors through color blocking or a more fantastical pattern in a dress or key accessory. This can be a diving board from which to enthusiastically jump into the sea of color.

However, the key to discerning what is avant-garde, and what is prairie home companion, is a firm grasp of warm and cool colors and their relationships. For example, if you normally gravitate to an all-black ensemble, spice it up with cooler colors, such as teal blue, chartreuse green or even both. If you love red, you have two options — go for classic by pairing it with neutrals cream and camel, or find a reddish-based fuchsia, and an orange — make yourself a living sunset.

The key to crisp color presentation lies in bold strokes and solids, not small, decorative, flowery patterns. If you wear a yellow, green and blue top, pair it with a solid color pant or skirt in navy. Relate independent colors with visual ‘tocchi’ or touches. That is, if the bedazzled shoulders of your jacket are emerald green, wear a complementary green shoe or purse.

Think of yourself as an abstract painting: often the key to its beauty is its complementary colors unified by one base color, such as black or white. You can start your journey onto the proverbial ‘color brick road’ by taking advantage of high-end designer Thakoon’s colorblock dress at Target for $39.99. Watch out Jackson Pollack, new artists are in town.

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Monday, March 7, 2011

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she realizes she has become a practical woman of her age. No longer visible are the days of jetting off, gowns at the ready, to conquer an unknown city. Relegated to the past are the exhilarating moments of hiding amongst a celebrity crowd in order to crash a Hollywood premiere of epic proportions (again feel free to pester me for details). Instead papers, presentations and exams exert their concentrated control over our attention, much like that fabulous new shade of OPI nail lacquer so artfully displayed on a shelf at Sephora.

However, I know we can all say with the greatest self assurance that while the gilded aesthetic trappings of the red carpet and tarmac may no longer surround us, the intrigue, passion, mystery, and delectably shared social whisperings are still in full force.

Where, especially, is the place where no one is immune from catching this contagion of atmospheric electricity? Where else but the library.

That professor, whose office hours you forgot to attend after you begged him for a long-winded explanation of that challenging algebra problem? He’s in the self-check out line. That really attractive member of the opposite sex with whom you recently almost shared two full sentences? You bump into them in the elevator. Your best friend? Anxiously awaiting you on the second floor with smuggled Starbucks and a treasure trove of information more relevant than any antiquated research.

For heaven’s sake, the only thing missing upon your library entrance is a flock of paparazzi waiting to photograph your every move (I must confess I sometimes wildly imagine I see them out of the corner of my eye, hence my penchant for sunglasses indoors, de rigueur as any globetrotter will attest). How are we to combat these dueling monsters: our study needs and our roles as chic members of society? With swords and knights in shining Armani? Absolutely not. The jumpsuit is a much better suit of armor.

The jumpsuit combines European glamour with American practicality and gumption. First appropriated from male factory workers by Rosie the Riveter when she was called to define the role of the World War II era woman, the jumpsuit immediately projected the message of hard work, strength and structure. In the jumpsuit Rosie seemed to say, “We can do the work of a man in his own uniform, and in the process show our fabulous figures to boot.” The 1960s saw the runways make the jumpsuit their own, creating it in silky fabrics, bringing it to new levels of comfort, and in bright colors, giving it a heretofore-unseen boldness and daring quality.

A jumpsuit is a wonderful alternative to other library casual ensembles. Ranging in material from a soft satin or silk to yoga pant material, it can enhance your study experience like nothing else. When buying a jumpsuit keep fit in mind: loose is good, but waist accentuation is the most important element. Whether it’s a high waist or a low waist, pockets or a sash belt will cinch your figure, emphasizing form and content.

Buy it strapless and pair it with a sweater, or get a long-sleeved one and add cuff bracelets for sparkle. With a variety of colors, you can choose the best one for you. Best of all, this is one-stop dressing: throw it on and you’re ready to go in 5 minutes flat. Tilly’s currently has one for $22.99. Monsters of the library be gone and paparazzi flash away, those books and fans are calling your name.