Now that lavish body tattooing and piercing has gone mainstream, what’s an image-conscious gal to do to project a really edgy biker fashion look? Why, stick to the basics, of course. And the super biker basic is black, black from head to toe … with an occasional touch of brazen color, like firehouse red or blazing orange, to signal the possibility of danger. Beyond that – think jewelry.
BIKER SILVER IS DIFFERENT: Dark, oxidized silver jewelry is king with bikers, who may wear as many as a dozen chain necklaces at one time. They crave chains like the massive, very long box chains by David Yurman. They’ll vary chain lengths and weights, but lots and lots of necklaces fit the bill.
Favorite pendants are crosses of every type and size, as well as single impressive keys, big and weighty enough to unlock a castle. Bib-like necklaces combine stone and crystal in intricate designs. Heavy, sculptured silver rings lurk on many fingers, with some of the new knuckle rings spanning atop as many as three fingers.
Animals, snakes and other ominous shapes form the body of many rings. And CZs and rhinestone rings flash signals as hands move expressively.
SCARY IS HOT: The menacing skull and crossbones emblem is emblazoned on silver cuff bracelets, pins, key rings. Or a series of small silver skulls connect to form a formidable (and costly) bracelet by Tom Binns. Perhaps to be perverse, another popular motif is the traditional peace symbol on T-shirts, cuffs and pendants. An ebony bead necklace is lifted bodily from religious rosary beads, complete with pendant crucifix.
Also, strange material combinations are propelled in biker jewelry, as in one three-strand pearl necklace, with the pearls connected by scores of large conventional (but oddly placed) safety pins. Popular too are moody vintage brooches, Plexiglas pins and necklaces, as well as stick-pins, clips, and odd-ball charms.
Silver bangles and cuffs, slim, wide, twisted, stoned, woven with semi-precious gems, are all stacked any which way on both wrists. Mixed in are other materials: wood, plastics, glass, copper; but even so, the wide range of bracelet types look great together, whatever the number.
THE UNIFORM: Bikers have a dress code and most bikers dress surprisingly alike. First must-have is the unisex black leather jacket. This season’s model is cropped, shorter than in the past, but with all the heavy metal zippers, studs (and bells and whistles) you could hope for. It can be real or faux; the impact is the same. Pair that with skin-tight black or mottled leggings or low-slung skinny jeans looped with brass-studded leather belts, with complicated hardware.
Yves St. Laurent’s new black belt has a large single metal star buckle, just dark enough and jagged enough to fit the bill. But belt choices are endless-leather and rope, medallion metal belts, chain belts, minipurse leather belts. Black or dark smoky colors fit this fashion.
Then, there are hats. Biker hats can be tweedy knit, bulky affairs, or, say, a black felt fedora fitted with pins that have special meaning for the wearer. Distressed leather brimmed hats suit the biker taste as well. Even a dark, brimmed cloche with just-so placement can do the trick.
HANDBAGS? Shoulder bags are favored for ease, and ideally will have secure outside pockets for gear. Leather is best, studded is near-standard, and size is moderately large. Fringe works.
Oversize black framed sunglasses with very dark lenses fit well here. So do reflective lenses that provide deep cover for the wearer’s eyes. Hair barrettes should be dark, metallic, and interesting rather than handsome. Earrings ditto. Within biker taste, anything goes for earrings-studs to chandeliers to message symbols to skulls.
Scarves give dramatic oomph to the biker ensemble. These impart a luxe overlay, as the black-on-black totally bugle-beaded long glamour scarf by Marc Jacobs. Or a black and white prison-stripe long scarf and matching tank top. A knotted silk chiffon polka-dot black scarf works, as well as a linen scarf ornamented with foreign-look coins. The scarf or pocket handkerchief can also be applied as the sole blaze of color.
The biker presents a young body silhouette (even though there are plenty of plump and 50-ish bikers around), darkly shaded with odd-piece clothing, layered with chain, and hungry for a full range of on-target smoky accessory pieces – jewelry and more jewelry, belts, scarves, hats, gloves, bags, leggings, all orchestrated to give one message: WILD AND (often pretending to be) WICKED.
ADDENDUM: This is also all haute biker, or punk, rough-and-tough glamour. It’s not for everyone, but there’s a sizeable subculture of Biker in just about every American community. And what’s important is, the look is right-now a design powerhouse … it is sexy, dangerous, and a retail treasurehouse.
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BOWS & BEAUX: Few accessories are so utterly feminine and flattering as bows, and this fall season showcases bows in many guises and sizes. In jewelry, the pink enamel bow pin not only symbolizes support for breast cancer patients, but these are wonderful treats for little girls through to elderly women … and all ages in between. They are feminine, sweet, and can really stand for anything you want. One designer offers a silver-plated bow pendant necklace as her way to “make the traditional look new again.”
HAIRBOW PERFECT: The popular long hairstyles of today call for use of ribbon bows – to enhance ponytails, decorate headbands, or simply to give a very flirty, girly look, as the large red satin bows worn by models in current MiuMiu fashion advertisements. New bows can also be tailored and rather flat, say, in understated hats, merely suggesting femininity. Or as a bowed sash, softly accenting a curvaceous hip/waist line.
Menswear fabrics and tailoring, which represent a whole different fashion story this season, need to be offset with ultra-fem touches. Silk blouses with large, drooping bows tied at the nape of the neck (or lower), are the ideal contrast. Coco Chanel often wore a bow-necked blouse to gentle her iconic cropped-jacket suits. She then piled multistrands of chain necklaces around the neck and dropping to the waist for a signature Chanel look that is as timely (and trendy) today as ever.
SOFTENING THE MALE INFLUENCE: This season Bill Blass’ man-tailored shirts for women come complete with softening bow ties that are essentially cute and saucy ribbons in many different colors. Alexis Mabile sets a very 3-D, same-fabric bow at the topside of each shoulder in his firm’s new female shirt collection. Add some bow jewelry, like pins, to the outfit and you have a terrific coordinated look in seconds!
The bow motif extends to design of handbags, with the body of, say, a clutch bag presented as a gathered bow, often jeweled at the knot. These can be everyday wear bags, or special, glitzy taffeta or satin evening bags. Bows work for them all. Look for bows to grace beaded necklaces and bracelets as tie-in-place decorative closures. And talking about closures, handbags use bow closures brilliantly.
Definitely a winning motif for 2008-09: Bows!