Colgate Couture: The Art of Nonchalant Dressing

If anyone knows the art of nonchalant dressing, it is the thousands of women who flooded the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last weekend. The tenth birthday and summer kickoff concert called for an easy style of dress with a dash of panache; the bold looks reflected an eclecticism of fringe, denim, florals and fur.

Maybe the inspiration came from the breezy nature of Indigo Valley, CA, where the afternoon boiling temperatures turn to crisp wind at night or the festival’s assortment of avant-garde artists whose light instillations lit up the desert sky. Or maybe the creativity spawned from music’s most sought after artists who sang the days away-the Killers, Paul McCartney, Franz Ferdinand and MIA. But no matter the magnitude of talent that entertained that weekend, the spotlight seemed less on tunes and more on the trends.

The festival looks moved away from the overly styled nature of Beverly Hills and into the coolness of the Colorado Desert. The genius came from combining flea market and vintage finds with contemporary silhouettes. There was the preppy hipster in high wasted Steven Alan shorts, Kain tank, Hermés belt and neon yellow K Jacques sandals. And then there was the south of the border grunge enthusiast in vintage Levi 501 cutoffs, a graphic tank, fringe vest, vintage necklace and Dr. Martens boots. The Los Angeles glamour girl wore a cheetah print Kate Moss for Topshop tunic with a 1970s floppy hat a la Anita Pallenberg, a light brown Kooba bag and classic Ray Ban aviators. Some music-goers took the essence of the Indigo Valley literally, channeling traditional Native American dress in studded feather headdresses, while another street-style muse sported a black t-shirt summing up the festival’s weekend attitude: “Broke is the New Black.”

What brought all of these ensembles together fell in the element of surprise. Each look combined an assortment of styles. But one staple emerged from the authentic outfits: the shoulder-strap handbag. Mostly found in thrift shops, the vintage find worn over the shoulder called for a no fuss, practical ease perfect for both day and night. Designers for spring 2009 reinvented the classic bag by adding the chain strap. Seen at Givenchy, Pucci and Ferragamo, the long strap bag has made hits in both high and low end boutiques. Topshop offers the widest variety of classic colors in white, black and brown but also in bright statements of turquoise, sunkissed orange, fuchsia pink and zesty lime. For the desert hippie, the detailing makes all the difference in suede fabric, bronze studs and fringe.

And to dip into the desert attitude of free spirit, headscarves, cat-eye sunglasses and gladiator sandals will do just the trick. Take a simple over-sized American Apparel t-shirt and create shape with a small detailed belt. Or cut your old pair of too-short, too-tight jeans to create a denim masterpiece. Floral dresses and rompers became instantly vintage worn with brown leather belts and white angelic dresses took a modern spin with cobalt blue sandals. So take a ride on the hippie side and jumpstart your summer look with distinct flea market finds to turn your look from ordinary to extraordinary.