fashion for the new millennium It''s the biggest wing-ding of the last thousand years. Your favorite chenille bathrobe and fuzzy bunny slippers might work just fine with a big bowl of popcorn and the remote, if your choice is to vicariously observe from the sofa. But, if you intend to fully participate in the fray, it''s time to start thinking about what to wear.
One thing comes clear when the focus falls on local fashion: While local style may take cues from big-city couturiers, MoCo still makes up its own mind about what to wear. Looks that scream high-tech like puffy, coated jersey frocks that look and sound like crumpled plastic, or sterling silver wire mesh body suits might make it if you''re holding an invitation to a Trekkie costume party this holiday season, but the native scene will be somewhat more sedate. For our personal fashion edification, since Carmel-by-the-Sea has its own reputation for style, we decided we would window shop there.
On Lincoln Street between Ocean Avenue and 7th Street, Loes Hinse is a respected name in local couture. This designer boutique in Carmel equips its loyal customers to take a fashion forward step into the future that is both classic and timeless. "People will continue to dress even more individually in the future," Hinse feels, "and won''t be dictated by the past. We''ll be going more for comfort, and what feels good."
If you''re shopping for the "big dress," you won''t find it at Loes Hinse. What you will find are quality pieces that are geared toward putting together your own sleek look. Hinse likes to mix up textures and colors. Charcoal velvet pants are splashy paired with an elegant brocade jacket. Or, a trim pair of black satin trousers with a simple, long-sleeve V-neck textured top can become high-drama with the addition of an oversized fringed scarf, done in a velvety deep purple and black weave.
The next trick is to accessorize. By tossing one end of the scarf over the shoulder and adding a big brooch, the scarf is secured with a bold, new look. A big, beady bracelet to match, done in black and purple mixed crystals, and a pair of sexy high-heeled leather boots pulls everything together. "Accessories are a large portion of the wardrobe," Hinse adds. And they''re a great way to stretch your investment. "Big shawls, long scarves and interesting jewelry are a great way to dress up last year''s piece. You can make it both fun and creative."
At Mission and 7th streets, Girl Boy Girl is another Carmel designer boutique that underscores the individualized fashion philosophy. Between this location and its sister store, Paloosh, on Ocean near Dolores, they stock around 85 top designer labels. In their view, the trend toward the "eclectic" style of dressing that gained a foothold in the ''90s is assured of continuing, and will be elevated to new heights. While it''s "anything goes" when it comes to expressing yourself, keeping the eye on well-crafted, quality-minded pieces will bring you into the new millennium with panache.
If it''s a glamour look with a new vintage twist, Paloosh''s light pansy, high-sheen metallic silk mermaid skirt with a flouncy fishtail paired with a body-loving cashmere T-shirt is guaranteed to make a stunning impact when you want to play dress-up. Then go one step further, with a Pashmina wrap over everything, woven from the finest fleece of Himalayan goats.
The same style of skirt in blush pink (light colors are very big) also looks great with a huggy ivory cashmere tube top and ultra-feminine faux fur shrug (remember mom''s favorite fur collar?). As a dress, the mermaid look is also hot in a dramatic, purpley-gunmetal shade that plunges into a deep, sexy V-slit way (that''s way) down the back.
Vintage beading, classy embedded sequins, beaded fringe, and exquisite embroidery can be found embellishing almost every type of wardrobe component both at Girl Boy Girl and Paloosh, flourishes that demonstrate an amazing degree of handwork in each garment''s construction. A three-quarter length gabardine coat by William B gets a matching pant with six inches of shimmery embedded sequins at the bottom and waistband. The same style of pants takes on a fun look, cropped to ankle length and worn with a simple, asymmetrical sequined shell, or an A B S seamless, capped-sleeve faux fur top, for an Audrey Hepburn twist. (Look for more faux furs on the fashion horizon; they''ve achieved a level of quality that makes them hard to tell from the real thing.) Or trade off the pants for a knee-length embroidered skirt, with 1 1/2-inch fringe beading around the hem.
"Whatever look you aspire to achieve," says a spokesperson for Girl Boy Girl, "We''ll help you get there." To casually ring in the New Year, a long, black leather skirt teamed up with a white T-shirt and black flipflops makes its own statement by mixing hip with laid-back comfort. A chocolate brown, fitted stretch velvet coat with curly, dyed-to-match Maribou trim is low-key, high-impact, over a tight mock turtleneck, fitted bootleg pants and tall boots.
Last but never least, always easy to party in, and essential wardrobe gear for the last 200 years, blue jeans are infinite. The evolution of blue jeans is a study all of it''s own, taking on the cultural cachet of every era. Rolled up with bobby socks, tie-dyed, hand-painted, embroidered, or precision-ripped, frayed and fringed, they have and will always be in style.
As an art form, blue jeans are still evolving. Discover them like you might not have encountered them before with Girl Boy Girl''s selection of plain, embellished and beaded jeans. Vintage Levi 501s get gonzo Gucci-esque overtones with flourishes at the waist, pockets and hems. Native American-style beading at the waistband is complemented by four-inch feather trim at the pants leg. Or there''s a shiny silk fringe and tassel garnish for a flashier look, teamed up with a Vivienne Tam feng shui mirror T-shirt. A tunic-length embroidered vest with kinky-curly, feather-soft Mongolian lamb trim all down the neck and front adds even more texture. Slipping into a pair of jeans becomes more fun than ever with options like these.
For ushering in the next thousand years, the new rule is there are no fashion rules. A few things, however, are tried and true: If you''re investing in a wardrobe, quality isn''t cheap, but it lasts. Style is the personal statement that you choose to make. And comfort is key. Especially if you''re going to party like it''s 1999.