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Archive for January, 2009...

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                  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

                  I love thee to the depth and breath and height

                 My soul can reach…

                                                              -Elizabeth Barrett Browning


                Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.

                                                              -Ogden Nash 



VALENTINE’S DAY is quickly approaching and what better way to celebrate it than with these magnificent words from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning?  Or, with a few less respectable tomes, from the poet Ogden Nash.   Or, from the inimitable Mae West, who was always willing to make the best of any situation, saying, as she did,


                            It is better to be looked over than overlooked. 


Ahhh, Love.  This is its day, in all its many forms!


                                    Red Doors and Gem Stones


Red is the official color of Valentine’s Day. It is the warmest color, representing passion and fiery heat.  In China, brides wear red and doors are painted red for prosperity and energy. In the west, some people put red gem stones around the home to stimulate vitality and joy.


Everyone gives hearts for Valentine’s Day.  What Valentine card is without them?

Even bumper stickers declare love through the symbol of the heart, as in “I (BIG RED HEART) MY CORGI.”  Or, “…MY PIT BULL.”


Big hearts are wonderful.  Broken hearts are sad, even tragic.  The heart represents life itself and, of course, love. It is the essential expression of physical nature, especially strength.  Hearts are Number One in popularity at tattoo parlors.


The Bible sees the heart as the center of a person, and the seat of human intelligence. King Solomon prayed for an “understanding heart.”  According to the Dictionary of the Bible, by Father John L. McKenzie, “It is in God’s heart to love creation….”


In looking for a gift to give for Valentine’s Day, certainly the first thought to come  to mind – after a loving Valentine’s Day card – might well be a piece of heart jewelry. Every woman sees it as a cherished expression.  Some ideas for Valentine’s Day gifting:





  • A classic cupid pin with red enameled heart.





  • A rich red crystal Victorian style heart brooch lavishly embedded with smaller crystal hearts. This is a real heirloom piece.



                                      Freudian Confusion


DESPITE ALL OF THIS, if you are still confused about what to give your lady love this Valentine’s Day, you are not alone.  Sigmund Freud, Father of psychoanalysis but not personally expert in the love arena, bemoaned the same problem, saying, “The great question, which I have not been able to answer, is, ‘What does a woman want?’ “


Real lovers know the answer without hesitation. Give your heart! And, the symbol of your heart. Give an expression that goes beyond “Will you be my Valentine,” to the more essential statement, “I love you.” We guarantee you’ll like the results.


                                       A Gift for Everyone


A piece of Valentine heart jewelry is a gift to thrill a romantic lover, delight a mother, please a sister, and brighten the eyes of a little girl.  And unlike flowers or chocolates, this is something that will last for years. Some more ideas:





Silver plated heart earrings in highly polished finish, with mixed metal border design of shimmering gold plate.





White faux pearl necklace with crystal embellishment. The center pearl-shaped drop is handsomely supported by 2 in-line silver hearts for a truly elegant look.  From the wholesale bridal collection, this gift is serious!


Perhaps Zsa Zsa Gabor gave the definitive word on the value of Valentine jewelry gifts when she said,

                    I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.


Of course, she also said,


                  If you want diamonds, buy them yourself.


But that is another story, for another day.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Filed under Mardi Gras
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YOU MIGHT SAY THE TIME LINES for Mardi Gras are internationally disjointed, and jam-packed with historic, primarily Christian, reference. To start with, the period officially recognized as carnival precedes Mardi Gras Day and is (generally) the time period between Epiphany (when God first revealed Jesus’ identity as the Savior or Messiah) or Twelfth Night (the last day of the Christmas season) and Ash Wednesday. 


Consequently, the wild, rich, and spectacular carnival period is really quite long, kicking off in a blaze on January 6th, and not ending until the day before Lent begins. The final chance for ecstatic indulgence!

— However, many places around the world think of Mardi Gras as being the entire carnival period.  Others see Mardi Gras as the last three days before Lent, while others consider it the final day only.


                                       Majestic and Mystical


SOME SO LOVE THE MARDI GRAS time period they have stretched it out as far as possible. In Mobile Alabama, an extended Mardi Gras period starts in November with mystical societies’ majestic balls and dinners.  Masks are again important Mardi Gras symbols.


  • Masquerade masks are fabulous eye masks for gals and guys alike.  Inexpensive in price only, these rich-looking masks come in papier mache, metallic gold, and a glitzy glitter material with acrylic stones – to name just a few.  What could be better for an early winter masquerade ball?


The Mobile celebrations continue on through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, culminating in a wild and wanton finale at midnight before Ash Wednesday.  It is all dizzying and phenomenal!

—In some parts of Europe, particularly Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as Latin America, the carnival period is called Shrovetide, and ends on Shrove Tuesday.


THROUGH IT ALL, in true New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition, fabulous jazz music blasts through the city, costumes are donned, makeup is outlandish, masks are brilliantly designed, bought or made, vivid colors are worn, feathers are sensational, gifts are generously distributed, and a magical period of fun and festivity prevails.


THROUGH IT ALL, TOO, there is an aura of hidden, intriguing identity – is this masked person beautiful or ugly, rich or poor, young or old?  You may never know.  


Few Mardi Gras masks are as popular and magnificent as those from Venice, Italy.


  • Venetian masks are perhaps the most sought after in the world, what with their exquisite artistry and imaginative representations.  Venetian style carnivale masks are amazingly authentic-looking, with gold tassels dangling from the points of the jester hat.  These full face masks also feature rich brocade hat and collar. 



  • Children’s Venetian-style mask with veil is beautifully scaled down to smaller size, with hand-painted design and sparkly highlights.  It is sure to thrill any child.

–Be sure to check out our latest Accessory Wholesale Newsletter for more on masks and Mardi Gras.


THE SPECTACULAR MARDI GRAS parade in New Orleans is filled with wondrous floats, brilliant performers, and artistic exhibitions. Commercial advertisements are banned.


One of the most delightful parade aspects is the throwing of “gifts,” such as colorful beaded necklaces and, most notably, toy coins known as “doubloons.”  These are decorated with the image of the parade “Rex” on one side and individual Krewe logos on the other.  


These special “throws” are prized as Mardi Gras memorabilia and are highly collectible.  In order to get as many as possible, New Orleans residents and visitors engage in all sorts of attention-getting antics. Children are often dressed in special eye-catching outfits. .  Some people wear the Roman collar of Catholic priests.  Others vie wickedly from behind Satanic masks and bawdy female costumes. Oh, this can be naughty!


MARDI GRAS MEMORABILIA attracts a great deal of consumer attention all year long. Think about some of the fun, fantasy items available that are sure to sell well to anyone interested in the phantasmagoria of Mardi Gras. 


  • Mardi Gras crazy hats are sure to make anyone smile. 6-foot feather boas in Mardi Gras colors are unbeatable fashion accessories. And colorful Mardi Gras suspenders, ties and gloves are all great items to bring home as souvenirs.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 30th, 2009

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THE COUNTDOWN to the big celebration is on!  Mardi Gras – from the French, meaning Fat Tuesday — this year lands on February 24th, although the celebration (or “carnival”) period starts a lot earlier.  Often referred to as the last day of feasting before the austere fasts of the Christian Lenten season begin with Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras is a time of often wild celebration, masked revelers, and colorful parades. 


In New Orleans, Louisiana, where Mardi Gras is celebrated on a grand scale,  fantastic balls are lavishly held and brilliantly costumed revelers wend their way through the streets as jazz music plays and a festival atmosphere pervades everything. This is a time of spectacular sights and sounds, fun and fantasy! 


                                      Feathers and Sequins


MASKS ARE PERHAPS the most visible signs of Mardi Gras. And what masks they are!  Worn with vividly colorful costumes, Mardi Gras masks combine fabulous beauty and artistry with visual expressions of entertaining secretiveness, transforming the revelers appearance into something at once unknown, yet magnetically desirable.  


  • What could be more intriguing and better suited to Mardi Gras than a fabulously rich looking ornate pink marabou feather mask embellished with sequins and decorated with gold lurex for a glamorous metallic shine. This is secretive seduction at its best!




  • Equally splendorous and individualistic is a speckled pheasant feather mask with ostrich and pheasant tails in black, white and grey. Wild and spectacular!


—A fascinating note on masked secrecy: Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the early 1700s, when French settlers first arrived.  Masked costumes were long all the rage. As time passed, however, more and more revelers behaved so badly (their identities safely hidden by the masks) that, in the early 1900s, masks were outlawed in New Orleans and stayed illegal for decades.


MARDI GRAS CELEBRATIONS are rampant in South America and Europe, particularly in Germany, France and Belgium. Rivaling the New Orleans exhibition is the exuberant Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro where the festivities carry traces of sensual excess suggesting that Mardi Gras does, indeed, date from the ancient orgies of pagan Europe, as many say…


                                            Raucous Carnival


Back in New Orleans, where good food, wine, and music are overflowing, an atmosphere of wanton excess fills the air. The Mardi Gras parades are phenomenal, raucous, marvelous. A cross-dressing beauty contest is a highlight of the day. A lusty carnivale mood often dizzies the senses as millions of people converge on this remarkable southern city and its famed French Quarter.   


  • Completing a vivid costume and mask outfit is special Mardi Gras jewelry. Necklace sets, pendants and earrings, as well as handsome feather jewelry, come in the intense Mardi Gras colors of green, gold, and purple, and double as attractive accessory pieces as well as lifelong collectibles.



  • Stretch bracelets are perfect choices for Mardi Gras, too, especially with carnival charms hanging off, such as flags, dangle jesters, and feather masks.





                                            Secret Societies


UNLESS YOU ARE A RESIDENT of New Orleans, you probably don’t know about the Krewes, the secret societies (sometimes called private clubs) that plan the spectacular events, balls and parades of Mardi Gras. There are about 60 Krewes in existence, with membership numbers in the thousands. You can’t go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras without hearing about the Krewes, so remember them!


It’s also a good idea to bone up on some New Orleans history. For example, when the Russian grand duke Alexis Romanoff came to New Orleans in 1872 to join in the Mardi Gras revelry, he was graciously appointed “King for the Day,” and given a royal reception.


It was a marvelous time, and New Orleans fell in love with Gallic royalty, so much so that to this day, the city or, more particularly, the Krewes appoint an annual Mardi Gras Rex, or King, to oversee the festivities and to reign over the Parade. One of the major delights of the Rex is the throwing of coins, or doubloons, as they are called in New Orleans.


  • There are so many special items to sell for Mardi Gras, but none more important than beads.  Consider Mardi Gras beads with traditional gold fleur de lis emblems representing the City of New Orleans. 
  • Americana Mardi Gras beads come in red, blue, and silver and are ideal souvenirs for any national holiday as well as Mardi Gras. 



  • Inexpensive disco ball beads in brilliant metallic Mardi Gras colors are terrific representations of the fun beads “thrown” to spectators again and again during Mardi Gras parades.


The Romanoff colors have also been made the official colors of Mardi Gras:  purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith. 


                                     …..to be continued….

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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In a fragile economy fashion jewelry retailers may be worrying more than necessary.  Yes, the news media continues its constant diet of bad news, but two major forces overcome all the media’s negative impact.  First, the fortune of wholesale fashion jewelry is far more susceptible to fashion trends than the economy. 


We could go through the entire history of economic downturns over the last 25 years and prove our point.  Rather than put you through that boredom, ask a long term veteran in fashion jewelry what there best year was in the 20th century.  Most will say 1990 or 1991.  Surprise!  These were recession years.  Ask what their worst year was.  Most will say 1995.  The media was raving about the good economy that year. 


The difference obviously wasn’t the economy.  The trends for fashion jewelry in ’90 and ’91 were dramatic size and color.  Wholesale fashion jewelry was booming and big earrings were the major thing.  Good news!  They’re back!


Now what about 1995?  The news media was bubbling over with enthusiasm about the great economy.  Meanwhile manufacturers, importers, and wholesalers of fashion jewelry were closing their doors.  Fashion jewelry retailers were scurrying around for something different to sell.  Why?  Minimalism became the fashion trend.  Small or no jewelry was the look.  Prada lead the way with a simplistic line in neutral colors like beige, grey, brown, and black.  The party was over for wholesale fashion jewelry and all the retailers that made a good living on these accessories. 


Today’s fashion trends are far from minimalist.  Dramatic necklaces and earrings have been in style and continue for the season coming up.  Fashion trends are definitely on the side of costume jewelry.  But will consumers spend the money? 


That brings us to the second point-psychology.  By now many may have heard about “the lipstick theory”.  Estee Lauder noticed in the downturn of 1991 that lipstick sales increased in upscale department stores when high ticket items slowed down.  This became known as “the lipstick theory” and concludes that women don’t quit buying, they just move into lower cost items. 


This puts a new image on an old theory in psychology.  Anyone that took some basic psychology courses may remember Abraham Maslow.  He formulated a theory for human fulfillment called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Fulfillment starts with basic needs like hunger and thirst and moves up to safety and then the need to be loved.   It is the rung above this that is important to the fashion jewelry business.   That rung is esteem needs that include self-esteem, recognition, and status.   


This is at the root of the feel-good feeling gained from acquiring something new.  This is the tendency noticed by Estee Lauder and confirmed by Abram Maslow when he says “Man is a perpetually wanting animal”.  There’s some joy in getting a new item, even if it is not expensive.


Certainly many have felt some pinch from the bad news propaganda that seems unrelenting.  Will a slowdown continue in fashion jewelry?  We have plenty of fashion jewelry history to look at that says no.  We have fashion trends that consumers love with all the dramatic size and color that always spells success for fashion jewelry.  We have the psychology that says the human spirit will always be searching for something new. 


So if your business is fashion jewelry, relax and give your customers the feel-good experience they came to your shop to get.  Feel confident everyone will soon be bored with bad news and the shock tactics of media will fall on deaf ears.  Moderately priced fashion jewelry has a history of ignoring the economy and there’s no reason this year should be any different.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Filed under Rhinestone Jewelry
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Rhinestone jewelry fills needs as well as provides dazzle no other fashion jewelry can equal.  But it has something else going for it that we seldom realize.  In economic downturns rhinestone jewelry really rises to the occasion and becomes wildly popular.  Part of this can be because they provide the diamond look at affordable prices and part because these fashion accessories bring soothing relief in stressful times. 


Vintage collectors today are paying good money for rhinestone from the golden age of costume jewelry.  Pieces by Eisenberg, Coro, Weiss, and Trifari are commanding big prices.  And what is this period that collectors consider the golden age of costume jewelry when rhinestone jewelry was on fire.  Most consider the 1930s to early 1960s the golden years of costume jewelry.  Think about it.  Nearly half of this era was The Great Depression and World War II.  The finest rhinestone jewelry was created in the most stressful times. 


So the little bump in the road we are experiencing is nothing compared to those troublesome times and if rhinestone jewelry was so spectacular then, it certainly should do well now.  The beauty of rhinestone and the desire for the feel-good experience of buying something new will keep rhinestone jewelry on the front burner. 


Even more important rhinestone jewelry fills a need for events that are getting very close. Retailers are preparing by stocking wholesale rhinestone jewelry for prom, bridal, and pageant.  More specialized shops prepare for dance competition, choral groups, and ballroom dance. 


Nearly everyone imagines rhinestone jewelry as very traditional, but subtle updates keep these dazzling accessories high in consumer interest.  Think of how popular bangle bracelets are in fashion this season.  Then imagine how rhinestone bracelets on memory wire creating bangles will capture the interest of prom girls. 


Rhinestone necklace sets have traditional looks with cascades, Y shapes, collars, bibs, and V necklaces.  But think of how rhinestone necklace sets in lariats or whiplash designs borrowed from Art Nouveau will capture the attention of the modern shopper.   




Pageant and other formal events are moving towards dramatic earrings rather than necklace sets and rhinestone earrings respond with every shape popular in fashion trends.  Large hoops and concentric circles lead popularity, but linear drops and dramatic designs that fit into the shoulder duster category are also very good.   


Prepare a spot in your showcases to wow customers with dazzle.  Choose the wholesale rhinestone jewelry that appeals to your customer base and make a display early so word gets around that you have a beautiful selection of rhinestone.  Prom is coming soon, providing a major market for glitzy jewelry sales.  Add in all the other events in spring that call for rhinestone jewelry and you have the ingredients for success-an opportunity that comes only once a year.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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The Pitti Immagine Uomo Fair in Florence may attract mostly European buyers, but recently increasing numbers of Americans are visiting and studying what the men’s show has to offer. 


Fashion vendors are especially alert to the fabulous exposition, since the European mode is invariably first in trends, and among them is a strong move toward accessories for men. Usually referred to simply as Pitti, the show is on right now.


This is a forum to learn from and copy.  Many retailers who have exclusively dealt in women’s accessories are seeing a real niche in men’s accessories, too…it’s an easy way to add a category and make new sales. 


  • YOU CAN ADD EXCITING MEN’S PRODUCTS TO YOUR BUSINESS:  Consider some of the newest leather goods, such as small “handbags” or briefcases for paper and computer carrying.  Add to that a touch of entertainment, with novelty neckties in many different themes.  An especially attractive item is a civil war tie showing both confederate and union soldiers.  The male love of the sea can also be harnessed with a tie showing yesterday’s tall ships. 


                                                Resilient Market


Unlike the women’s fashion field, menswear has traditionally been more resilient to economic ups and downs.  So far, sales here have not dropped significantly in this market and, in some ways, design appreciation has actually broadened out and expanded. 


A strong indication of the general health of the men’s field is the luxury fashion company Furla’s entry into the market with a men’s accessory collection, now being introduced at Pitti, which it expects to grow to 15 percent of its sales within the next three years. 


An interesting point is that the collection was previewed on the company’s e-commerce site and, according to CEO Paolo Fontanelli, “in four weeks, we registered brisk business with lots of women buying, too.”


  • ATTRACT WOMEN WITH MEN’S PRODUCTS?  Not only can you do that, but by setting up a small men’s accessories section in your present boutique, you can enhance general sales.  Women are always looking for gifts for the men in their lives.  For a fun item think about Louisiana suspenders, with illustrations of jazz bands and musical notes.  Or, put wildlife on the suspenders. 


  • A complete men’s section would also do well to have a number of small, quick-purchase items to give as mementos, like key chains, bookmarks, and various lapel pins with male-oriented wording, such as “WINNER.” If you’re gifting good employees, try a “#1 IN SALES” pin, sure to delight the recipient.


                                              Classy Lifestyle


Another company expanding its men’s offerings is the well known men’s footwear company, Church’s, which is coming into Pitti with a number of exciting new offerings, such as knitted and woven silk ties, small leather goods,  belts, and silk and woven cashmere scarves.


The firm is also offering a collection of handsome weekender bags, leather gloves, and those terribly manly and aristocratic-looking British broilies, crook handled umbrellas in chestnut with silver collars.  Church’s says it is looking to create a lifestyle brand with its British offerings.


                                         Animal Themes


Also look for some hip new products from Manuel Bozzi atu Pitti:  belts with guitar-shaped buckles, and a collection of men’s rings with animal-shaped heads, including those of a panther.  The rings are all done in sterling silver and handmade in Tuscany’s Pontedera region.


Men’s hats are coming into the market, too. Italia Independent and historic milliner Borsalino have teamed up on a reinterpretation of the well known Borsalino hat.  Now done in three different styles, the new hats are aimed at a “more contemporary audience,” according to Lapo Elkann, Italia founder and Fiat heir.

As he put it, “We want to transform an evergreen icon of elegance into a new cult object for the younger generation.”


   Hot Selling Points


Overall, the Pitti accessories showings indicate several themes that are apparently big draws for the men’s market.  Among them:


  • Reasonable prices.  For example, many of the small leather offerings are in the vicinity of $500, a high price for the average market, but reasonable from a luxury standpoint.


  • Real Italian leather. Nothing here is made in low-cost production nations and designs all feature the finest Italian leather goods, taking strong advantage of this country’s inimitable recognition as one of the best fine leather producing centers of the world.


  • Class consciousness.  This is a touchy one, but it is right out there for all to see.  A Fiat heir.  A top luxury firm. A long-line aristocratic fashion purveyor.  And the list goes on.  The promise being made by the new accessories’ manufacturers:  That all their products are in exquisitely fine taste, highly acceptable, remarkably well-bred. Wearers might expect some of the pedigrees to rub off on them, too!


  • “Macho” themes.  Some are work-oriented.  Many involve travel, for work and with suggestions of safari life and 19th Century explorer experiences. Very manly!

(All we need now is Dr. Livingston, I presume.)

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Filed under Hats
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CHANCES ARE, LOUIS ARMSTRONG  had no idea when he first sang “Baby It’s Cold Outside” that so many years later it would still be a cold-weather classic,  sung from coast to coast on dark, snowy winter nights. Rarely, however, has there been a winter more befitting his famous song than 2008-09. 


We expect snow early in the high Rockies and along the Cascade Range, but this year snow came surprisingly early to even low lying areas of the nation, in California and New England, in the mid-west and almost all parts in-between.  Temperatures dropped drastically the beginning of December, in many places falling way below zero.  Oh, baby, it has been cold out there!


It snowed in New Orleans.  It snowed in Florida.  Ice and sleet greeted office workers in Manhattan day after day after day. And Santa Claus was still nowhere to be seen, resting comfortably with his reindeer at the North Pole, waiting for the real winter weather to set it.  Well, he shouldn’t have waited. Winter stormed in with a vengeance while he was asleep, kept up during his big global ride, and now, in mid-January, the winter rage goes on…



                                   Bobsledding or Belly-Whopping


THIS IS A YEAR to stay cozy and warm!  Put on a snuggly winter jacket, a wool scarf and gloves, and take a lighthearted attitude toward all this white stuff.  Bobsledding is fun for the upscale crowd; if you’re an ordinary citizen, try belly-whopping with an ordinary sled.  After the sports-fest add a fashionably chic hat to your wardrobe, and have fun snow-parading while it lasts. (And that could be a long time!) 

  • A lighthearted answer to low temperatures is a beautiful wool beret.  In a large range of colors, berets cross over seasons with ease, bringing an urban French couture sensibility to the snowy-est country scene.



  • An angora wool bucket hat is another great double-duty cold weather accessory.   Fashionable and warm, in a handsome herringbone design, these hats fall comfortably below the ears and work well in any winter temperature.




BITTER COLD WEATHER has witnessed dangerous wind chill factors running as low as 58 degrees below zero in some parts of the country. In Hallock, Minnesota, the vice president of Johnson Oil Company is taking the frigid temperatures in stride, pointing out that 38 degrees below zero isn’t so difficult. “We’re kind of acclimated to it up here,” Marc Johnson said.  


Not everybody takes the weather with such aplomb.  If you’re anything less than the staunch Nordic type, think carefully about keeping the body warm with layers of clothing and hats, hats, hats!  After all 80% of the body’s heat is lost through the head.  Keep the head warm, and you’re warm.  Hopefully.


  • A terrific cold weather combo is a fashionable hat, scarf and gloves, all matching, in many different color options.  With its handsome faux fur trim, this hat bespeaks Russian royalty. Choose it in wine red and you’ve got a real winner! 



  • A faux fur and suede winter hat, again in a variety of colors, forms a cloche-like wrap around the ears to assure you won’t be losing body heat to the wild, swirling winter winds.  A terrific fashion piece for cold winters like we’re experiencing.


                                                      #  #  #  #


— Oh, will everybody be watching with eagle eyes this year to see if that sleepyhead groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on February 2nd.  Bundle up, cuddle up, and be sure to wear a warm winter hat while you’re waiting!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Filed under Rhinestone Jewelry
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LAST SUMMER, Michele Obama wore a stunning black dress for her appearance on “The View” TV program…an event that sparked off a frenzy of interest in the store where she bought the outfit, White House/Black Market. 


Now that Mrs. Obama is taking up residence in the nation’s “Number One” White House amid thunderous celebrations and excitements this week, the well known fashion chain is capitalizing on the association by establishing its stores as “Inaugural Dress Headquarters.”


It has, for example, turned its Union Station store in Washington into an Obama showplace, filling it with beautifully designed dresses that are modestly priced and fit for any presidential-like affair that might take place this year.


                                          Display Magic


THE STORE has also designed its windows with a consumer-stopper:  a collection of four specially designed dresses called “The White House Inaugural Collection,” which it is auctioning off to a select quadrant of lucky buyers. The dresses are aptly called The Eleanor, The Abigail, The Jackie, and The Ladybird.  History and fashion through the decades!


You might say this is a modern play on the Smithsonian, where mannequins of First Ladies and their actual inaugural dresses are prominently displayed for visitors from all over the world to see. Just as the Smithsonian display is thrilling, so too is the White House/Black Market promotion.

—For one thing, connecting current events to product offerings invariably boosts sales and creates a more exciting shopping environment.  Try out the idea and see!


                                       Riveting Rhinestones


ACCESSORIES ALWAYS PLAY an important part in formal dressing, and it is no different with this year’s party dresses; in fact, in many ways, accessories are even more important now.  Glitz may be waning but shine is on the rise. And while women are buying more modestly priced dresses (or, for that matter, reusing those they already have), outfits are being updated and upgraded with dramatic and lush accessories.


One way to exaggerate shine and affect a rich, traditional appeal for dress-up this year is with rhinestone necklace and earring sets.  And the fascinating thing is that with the somewhat austere temperament in the country now, rhinestones are often being held in greater esteem than real diamonds.  Get the look; save the expense.  

  • Consider a rhinestone necklace set in silver plate that extends a full 17 inches. Matching earrings fall 1 ½ inches. Shown against a dark velvet background, these sets really come into their own! What’s more, they’ll coordinate well with almost any evening outfit.



  • An especially unique look, ideal for daring customers, is a double-row rhinestone hook and curve necklace in whiplash fashion inspired by Art Nouveau.  Matching simple drop earrings complete the set beautifully.


                                         Design Energy           



THIS IS ALSO A YEAR for many maverick dress-up outfits. Even normally black tie affairs are open to dresses that are not full length, even fairly short. Then, too, not all inaugural balls are being held in Washington, D.C., where a more classic mood does hold sway.  For example, Palm Beach County in Florida is awash with parties this week, all of them in honor of the new President and his wife. The dress codes:  Gorgeous…but variable! 

–And, expect to see socialites galore splendid with dazzling jewelry, in an almost playful real/faux mix. 


For example, a marvelous little beaded dress in brown with all-over silver horizontal stripes comes from designer Derek Lam and makes for a wonderful Palm Beach party dress.  With a hemline above the knee and seductively off-the-shoulder styling, this charming design is somewhat unconventional, but still meant for big celebrations.   

  • Fit it with sparkling earrings such as Michele Obama herself might wear. A good choice: Pave crystal earrings in elongated hoops. Wow! They are show-stoppers!


Another non-traditional inaugural-fitting outfit is a terribly sophisticated 2-piece silk blend double-collar belted jumpsuit by Donna Karan.  Exquisitely tailored, it makes a perfect outfit for any of the many Obama parties coast-to-coast, formal and casually comfortable at the same time.


  • What to choose for earrings? How about handsome graduated crystal drop earrings with silver plated settings? Or, to add color and light, choose faceted drop earrings in amber, pink, black, blue and red.


Add to all of these outfits some little colorful evening bags — you might even think red for “American royalty.” The new trend doesn’t require that bags or shoes match an outfit; often, the color is purposely different and more vibrant for a surprise, high fashion appearance. 

Try a red crushed satin clutch with a snakeskin appearance.  Or, an elongated clutch, also in red, for a real “pop” of color. And party away…

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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LINGERIE WITH JEWELRY?   Well, you might think, that’s an oxymoron!  But don’t close the book on this idea too soon.  Manufacturers of gorgeous, enticingly subtle lingerie are showing their “personal” clothing pieces with more and more jewelry, and the effect couldn’t be more glamorous. 


This is an idea whose time has come!  Alberta Ferretti offers a perfect nightie for the hang-around-luxuriously set: a beautiful, rich blue silk satin long gown with provocative cut-outs and thin shoulder spaghetti straps Editorialized with long formal earrings, it presents an elegant outfit fit for intimate dining or laid-back talk fests with a significant other. Oh, it’s wicked. But beautiful!


  • MAKE USE OF THE IDEA: Consider a bridal market faux pearl bracelet with crystals and rhinestones in white or ivory. Or try an erotic ankle bracelet in silver-plate with crystal embedded heart drop. Elegant!


                                       PLAYGIRL POSH


AS WE’VE SUGGESTED, many of the lingerie outfits being worn for such “plus jewelry” publicity shots aren’t meant for sleeping only. You might call it a Hugh Hefner rush to “live-in” pajamas, as more and more ladies exchange street clothes for luxurious, comfortable at-home lingerie outfits.


Beautifully accessorized negligees, slinky slips and exotic nightgowns are just some of the fashions taking on jewelry embellishment. Lounging pajamas, worn with rich, abundant jewelry, are also making at-home bedwear living a new, wardrobe-conscious experience.


Frequently, the negligees targeted for rich jewelry enhancement are minimalistic and   exquisitely refined. Take Donna Karan’s easy-to-wear satin-faced silk chiffon slip that could easily do high-fashion duty for any formal affair.  The dress shimmers under very long rhinestone earrings, plus a cocktail ring with a huge, clear cabochon stone.

  • YOU CAN EASILY PAIR JEWELRY WITH NEGLIGEES: Just stay with the theme. A dramatic necklace of gleaming metallic bronze beads spaced on 3 layers of coated wire adds a seductive quality to lingerie of all sorts. Choose deep amber and dark smoke colors.



                              BEAUTIFUL REBELLION


TIME WAS, you’d rarely see anyone wearing pajamas outside of the bedroom. But that didn’t take into account the maverick, Auntie Mame-type characters who made it a habit of rebelliously going against-the-grain. I know.  I had an aunt who rotated an extensive wardrobe of glamorous pajamas and nightgowns for 24/7 living. Rare to see someone out of the bedroom in nightwear?  With my aunt, it was rare to see her any other way!


A remarkably beautiful woman, she languished and luxuriated in soft, shimmery silk and satin lounge pajamas all day long, munching on chocolates and happily spraying herself with Joy perfume.  My mother considered her a total embarrassment.  My grandmother — older, wiser, and aware of her daughter’s coup in marrying so well she could afford to do nothing all day – regarded her with unspoken admiration. It was a stand-off.


I wonder now how spectacular my aunt would have looked had she thought to glamorize her sensual home-wear with jewelry.  Not just any kind of jewelry, of course, but delicate sparkling pieces that would echo the feel of her Cleopatra-worthy outfits. The Marc Anthonys of the world wouldn’t have had a chance! 

  • TRY GIVING YOURSELF JEWELRY-ADDED GLAMOUR: Choose shimmering crystal chandelier earrings for a come-hither at-home dress-up look. Or, try long Victorian style earrings with black stones and antique silver-plate. Eye-catching, with flash and movement!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 16th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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1.  LONG AND LANGUID WATERFALL EARRINGS:  Goodbye reserved earrings, hello big, dramatic, modern styles.  Waterfall earrings race front and forward, brushing the shoulder and filled with a fluid, smooth movement.  See them especially in silver-plate, some rather intricate in design, others clean, long, shimmering slivers bringing light and vitality to the face. 


  • TRY SOMETHING NEW FOR THE NEW YEAR:  A perfect choice for change is an elegant earring set with two lines of textured metal drops that spiral down from small metal chains. These ultra-modern beauties are long!


2. GEOMETRICS:  It’s a mathematical wonderland out there!  If you loved geometry, this is your year!  Squares, triangles, circles, and rectangles are all heating up the runways.  Polka dots are making graphic history.  Stripes are super hot. Straight lines, diagonal lines, lines crossing each other, touching each other, going every which way: they’re all big trend news for the year.  


3. LONG, LOOSE, COMFORTABLE DRESSES: They may have been shorter back in the forties, but ladies used to call them house dresses. Now, they’re long, upgraded, more formal, but still expressing the same idea: Comfortable dresses, mostly for the home (although, in today’s liberal environment, you could go from work to the beach in them, without raising any eyebrows).  Some people are calling them day gowns, which pretty well says it. Prints are extravagant, colors are often intense, and jewelry is mandatory!  


  • JAZZ UP THE NEW DRESSES WITH EASY-TO-WEAR JEWELRY:  What could be better than faux pearls spaced with fine link chain?  In light grey and looking very much like those terribly expensive South Sea pearls, this double row necklace is a beautiful closeout piece!


4. STATEMENT JEWELRY:  We’ve been talking about this hot trend for over a year now, and things haven’t abated one bit.  If anything, statement jewelry is getting hotter.  Styles are getting bigger, more individualistic.  Look for items with a one-of-a-kind mystique to them, jewelry that preferably evokes thoughts of exotic ports-of-call. 


  • SIZE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:  Big and small combine in this beautiful necklace made up of 15 strands of tiny Bohemian glass beads gently twisted together for a high fashion look. The large overall look resonates in amber, gold, white, and bronze.  Exquisite!


5. TORTOISE SHELL SUNGLASSES:  Are these ever great shades?  Boasting frames of the perennially chic tortoise shell, they add a glamorous note of luxury to any wardrobe.  But don’t stop there!  Pay attention, too, to aviator shades, the biggest and hottest look of the year!


6. INSECT INVASION:  Watch out!  The insects are coming and you could be eaten alive!  Spiders lead the way, embellishing handbags, jewelry, everything fashionable.  Butterflies aren’t far behind the (spider) binge, gently flittering around the field.  Even dragonflies are keeping insect repellents going.  Adding to the fray: A new generation of accessorizing alligators, crocodiles, and other not-so-lovable reptiles are coming on stream.  Oh, this is a 12-year boy’s dream!


  • LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE FOR YOU:  Dragonflies, butterflies, and colorful peacock pins. But none can compare with the splendid sparkle of a rhinestone spider brooch (Yes!  We said spider!) silently, ominously awaiting its prey.



7. CHUNKY COCKTAIL RINGS:  Think wonderful faux gemstones, some cabochon, some exquisitely faceted, all obviously faux only by their size. This is a Romanoff-mimicking jewelry trend, with everything super-big, super-rich, super-extravagant.  Rings, especially, are phenomenal, with huge center stones surrounded by more sparkling faux stones, set in silver- or gold-plate, enjoying a one-of-a-kind-like expression. 


  • GET THE LOOK FOR PART OF THE PRICE: Consider enameled cubic zirconium rings for real impact.  Murano glass rings are super-trendy, in exciting colors and modern design.


8. SHINE:  Everything is slippery, shiny, light-reflective!  Materials like satin, taffeta and Asian silks take shine to a new level.  Patent leather shoes and handbags, especially done in bright oranges, greens, and blues, give pop to an outfit.  Leather is an all-time shine wardrobe factor.  Embroideries, sequins, crystals, embellishments of all sorts turn ordinary dresses into Princess-worthy gowns. 


9. MIXED METALS:  Time was nobody thought of mixing gold and silver together; you wore one or the other.  But then Southwestern designers came onto the scene, and nothing has been the same since.  They heavily promoted mixed metals with their unique and highly creative designs, first mixing sterling silver with gold-plate, and later branching out into fine jewelry with real gold. 


    Now another surge of interest in mixed metals is showing how well silver and gold really go together.  The mix can be in one piece of jewelry, or as two separate pieces, worn together.  Either way, you get a dynamite, modern expression of richness and beauty together. Two-tone jewelry without the high price-tag.

 two-tone cuff bracelet

  • IT’S EASY TO MIX METALS: But if you want it done for you, think about some wonderful bracelets like a super-modern spiral-design cuff that evolves repeatedly from silver-plate circle with gold-spiral tips to another circle to another. Very fashion forward.



10. INSANELY HIGH SPIKE HEELS:  These torturous foot traps just won’t go away.  And while everyone is raving about the remarkably creative designs showing up in shoes right now (which we don’t deny), nobody takes issue with the present and future health consequences of these wildly overdone, extravagant shoes.  But there you are. They aren’t good for you.  But wow!  Are they sexy! 

—And that’s where it’s at, folks, as the sales go on…

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 15th, 2009