Colgate Couture: Wearing Times

Zoe Gordon

It’s quite a wonder that I even paused over a Kenneth Cole advertisement in the recently released and always anticipated September issue of Vogue Magazine. With 584 pages of the latest and hottest (“40s Is the Look,” “Boots and Suits are back!”), I certainly had other more interesting outlets to occupy my time.

Although Kenneth makes consistently clean and cool middle-market merchandise, he rarely gives us any surprise or shock. I never drool over his creations, like I did when I came across Balmain’s super slick leather military style jacket, and I never wish for an alternate universe for his pieces, where I can wear items like Rodarte’s insane thigh high boots (yes, I’m dreaming leather this fall). If anything, Kenneth Cole is safe – and in September, safe is always boring.

Mr. Cole’s advertisement in this month’s issue is visually prudent: a bronzed woman cinched in a mustard yellow shift and accessorized with some black pumps, a belt, gloves and a studded carryall (been there, done that) strides alongside a dapper fellow in dark denim and a wool blazer (ditto). I would have glossed over the uninspired clothes and generic models were it not for the slogan aptly placed in the bottom right corner.

Kenneth Cole has used pun-tastic advertising slogans throughout his career. A recent ad for a pair of loafers reads: “Shoes shouldn’t have to stay in the closet either,” and after President Obama’s election, Cole released a billboard that read, “A precedent we can be proud of.” Catchy? Yes. But the designer’s appeal to political and social activism can come across as a trite attempt at trendsetting.

All qualms aside, Kenneth Cole’s latest witty snippet got me thinking: “Make the most of wearing times,” the designer aptly suggests.

Now, I am no more of an economist than I am a vegetarian (I love bacon), but I am obviously entrenched in the current penny-pinching situation of our country, our families and us as college students. For over a year now, designers and talking heads alike have been speculating about the demise of the fashion industry and consumer spending. Though budgets may be still down, fall fashion has never been so up. Think fur vests and sequins and velvet, oh my!

Don’t let the overwhelming department store sales with haphazard merchandise and recent Do-It-Yourself fad deter you from getting out there (or online) and making important additions to your closet this fall. Regardless of how much you made this summer as a counselor, waitress or unpaid intern, there is always opportunity for you to make a fun, fresh or fabulous statement in these wearing times.

How to dress intelligently in the current economy? Purchase a few staple pieces that will act as pick-me-ups with prices that won’t bring you down.

Store those flip-flops for now and discover what a pair of Elizabeth and James snakeskin loafers or Belle by Sigerson Morrison embellished flats can do for any old outfit. Wear heels while you still can. Summer sandals can transition to fall with a pair of colorful tights (try bordeaux and navy), and booties are making their appearance again on every runway and in every magazine (Nine West, BCBG and Aldo are all making worthwhile styles).

Trade your mother’s old cut-off jean shorts for a leather alternative. The fabric is once again everywhere this season–and Philip Lim has perfected leather into the must-have transition piece. Pair his shorts (or the knockoffs by Forever21) with those new tights, booties and your go-to layers. If you are feeling on the safe side, stick to your schoolgirl roots and go wool–it is a modern twist on the 1940’s fad returning to runways.

Open up your jewelry box and start piling on every necklace you own – the more tangled the better. Think Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean for a dramatic, anti-delicate look. Instead of investment pieces, try Ann Taylor for some unexpected gems.

Finally, pick that one must-have piece that you know will get glances every time. This month, I’m dreaming of Rag and Bone’s Moto Leggings with mesh. You will certainly be making the most of wearing times in these show stoppers.