Embellishments--Finding the ones that will STAY trendy

Embroidered, appliqued, or bejeweled denim form an axis of the most wanted styles this Fall. It's just so ironic that jeans have gotten so expensive, given they started out as humble, long-lasting clothing for miners.

Maybe it's just me, but I find embroidery on jeans to be really tacky. If it's done right, some of it running down the side of the legs does look great, but that $300 pair of jeans will be unwearable in about 2 months. The department store imitator brands look even worse (bright-colored embroidery really looks like something my Grandma used to make). Still, I'm sure it'll cycle back into popularity in a few seasons or so. Rhinestones...they're not going to go out of style nearly as fast, and I think it's kinda cute. But it's better to just go to Michael's, buy a pack of little shiny things, get some fabric glue, go home, and do your thing (copy the pocket stitching of your Seven jeans or something if you really care that much for branding). That oughta save you that extra hundred dollars. As for applique all over the pockets--just not my thing at all. Having patches all over the leg looks even worse, and the style is probably going to last even shorter than the embroidery. May as well look in your closet for old linens with cool prints (or colors), make your own patches, and loosely stitch them on your rear pockets. Take them off when the trend is gone.

Now, embroidery on tops makes a whole lot of sense. Tops are meant to be canvases more so than jeans; it's no wonder why embellished T-Shirts sell well and wear well year after year, while jeans with "Von Dutch" printed on them are so gone. Besides, tops tend to be cheaper and more "disposable," if you will. If embroidery trends are waning, you can always keep the top but tone it down with jackets and layering.

Embellishments really bump up the price. If I'm willing to pay that extra price, I want it to last. When I buy embellished tops--embroidered, appliqued, jeweled, silkscreened, you name it--there are several factors I consider in evaluating "timelessness." They're really quite obvious and common sense when you think about them:

-The first is your intuition--that's easy enough. If you like it, you're going to wear it a lot. What celebs are wearing won't necessarily be to your liking or fitting...heck, it probably doesn't even look good on THEM, but somehow fashion mistakes become trends if the victim is famous. The Uggs with miniskirt trend is one example.

-The second is simplicity. A single intricate design is much easier to appreciate if there's plenty of space around it. Contrast that with a mass of designs that are cool but induce sensory overload...hmm...

-The third is the design itself--intricacy indicates good workmanship that will last many washes and always draw attention; minimalist designs are also good because they spice up a basic piece without being too loud. Being simple, they'll always look good. Avoid spending too much on "current event slogans" (like "Free Kate" or "Team Aniston") or brand logos, unless the logo design is cool enough (or the name is obscure enough) that you can still wear them long after the company has gone out of business. Oh yeah, as for faux-fur anything--personally, faux-fur trim looks tacky. Better if it's a detachable part, since you can put it on when it's fashionable and take it off when it's not. Sequins--sparing is good. Too much = Vegas.

-The last one I can think of is the location of the design. If designs are so small or located at places where no one can see them, it's not worth the money. Things at the dead center of your chest or back are very safe. Things placed at more unpredictable places, like the shoulder or sleeve, are very cool and will stay unique for a long time. A somewhat special rule for collars--it's good as long as it isn't too "busy." Remember those shirts with the really big ruffled collars AND cuffs that look like clown suits crossed with pirate garb? No? Probably so hideous that it's part of your repressed memories. The Victorian collars that are popular again are minimally wispy. Cowl necks on sweaters are huge, but they work because the collar drapes in a very simple way.

To illustrate what I mean, here are a few of my own bargain finds:

-"Avion" t-shirt--$5 sample from one of the New Mart showrooms. That's the name of the brand (which I've never heard of), but the name is neutral enough that it could be one of those random phrases printed on t-shirts. I love the color, the airplane, and how the letters (with ragged edges) are stiched on. The collar and sleeves have blanket stitches...not noticeable to people, but I like them (and didn't have to pay that much).

-Sweetees "Indigo" tube top--$10 sample from one of the New Mart showrooms. I have no idea if this is from past seasons or not even on the market yet, since the "delivery date" written on the tag is November. Call me conservative, but I just don't do tube tops (though I have a lovely retro-looking tube dress for more formal events)...except this one. Fitted but not tight, it falls past the hip. The lace trimmings are simple and cute, but it's the off-center applique that really carries the day. Nothing too fancy. I knew it would go well with jeans, but it looks GREAT with light-wash, wide-legged trouser jeans and cute metallic ballet flats. This picture just doesn't do it justice.

-Embroidered sheer tee--$8 (temporarily down from $16), brand unknown (all I know is that the "canvas" is made by American Apparel), from the FIDM scholarship store. Probably the work of a student...who knows? This top illustrates why brands don't matter. It's just a comfy, simple, yet very pretty top. The embroidery isn't just flat--the cloth in the center of the flowers is intentionally gathered. I looked on the back and saw elastic bands sewn in. Definitely changes the "topography" of the top.

-Button shrug--$16.50 from the Esprit sales section. Yes, bold color, but it's a more normal kind of bold (not like hideous neons). Looks perfect over sleeveless tops and small enough to carry in your purse to keep warm when a) you step into air-conditioned spaces or b) it cools down at night. Embroidery on right sleeve and left shoulder with some small metallic beads sewn in--makes the plant design (I think) look like they are peacock feathers.

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