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IT’S NOT EXACTLY BUTCH, but it is a far cry from gentle.  The new Tough Chic Look has plenty of hard edges, plenty of attitude, plenty of new-form black that isn’t Gothic but which does say, “Don’t fool with me.” 


It might sound like a rough-rider Biker look, but it isn’t that, either.  This is a strictly 2009-2010 fashion expression that takes the CEO business post and makes it look like just a stop along the way for the new feminist movement.  I mean, man…this is BOSS.


MOST OF THE COLORS in this hot new look are dark, with heavy emphasis on black, but silver and gray are also big, along with a healthy serving of glitter and shine.  Some are extremely sexy, like hot black fishnet stockings and super-high heeled black leather boots.

    — That alone could have filled the pages of Penthouse Magazine with sizzle and steam, not too many years ago.


                                                     Chunky, Carved


Jewelry plays a major part in the Tough Chic Look, too.  Think metal, metal, metal.  Necklaces are long and short, multi-layered, with pendants and charms and dozens of other embellishments hanging off or embedded in the structure.  Gems, beads, rocks, carved pieces of Lucite, chunks of smooth and archeological-looking stones, you name it! 






  • Chunky black glass necklace creates a collar of free-form beads in smoky gray. Matching earrings.  Very updated!


Huge rings are standouts on their own, the hottest being large squares of onyx or turquoise. Lucite rings, not unlike those introduced a couple of seasons ago by Bulgari, are also hot, as are over-sized crystals looking like an engagement ring Elizabeth Taylor might have coveted (were they real).


                                               Heavy Metal


No one could question that the Look coming forward has strong connections to the Heavy Metal music groups past and present, such as Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Black Sabbath.  Some punk rock images add to the cacophony, along with plenty of extreme underground aggressive visions  from the 80s. 


Loudness has always been the essence of Heavy Metal.  As Jeffrey Arnett says in his book, Metalheads, heavy metal concerts are “the sensory equivalent of war.” Soften that a little (not too much), and put it into a visual context, and you’re edging onto the Tough Chic look. 


Here are some guidelines:  Think black leather belts with studs galore, silver or gold.  Big handle handbags. Really big. In grey or black leather, mostly distressed, with black or silver stones.


Think black boots with an almost Germanic frenzy. Think hot: totes with all-over grey and black beading, or super-shiny bags (big, again) in dark gold or black. 

This is all the Women’s Movement’s dream!  No female victims here.


Belts are likewise an essential ingredient of the Tough Chic Look.  Think medium width, studded, black with various types of black and gold trim. 

     — This is very serious stuff here, though, nothing frilly or feminine or soft about it, even though this is not let’s say it again..NOT..a masculine look.  It is strictly a la femme.  Just toughened up.







  • Lucite specialty beads in a long, swinging necklace with speckled amber and shiny black baroque beads.  Very statement heavy!




                                       Tough Chic Jewelry


SOME NECKLACES HERE DO give a nod to slightly feminine looks, such as big chokers with blue or gold resin chunks, very large and statement-savvy.  Modernism comes through here, too, in necklaces with big, three dimensional pieces, like small sculptures.  If it looks very assertive, it’s likely part of this story train.


Bracelets are no small matter in Tough Chic.  Gray metallic bangles, leather cuffs and tie-ons, big black squared-off bangles, and wrap-around chains are just a few of the many that are worn, usually in multiples, on both wrists, moving up the arm.  Many of the bracelets look like link chain purchased at the hardware store and used for hanging things like chandeliers.  Get a couple of feet, wrap it around the wrist and voila!  You’re hot!


Worn with all this:  watches.  Think black with big (sometimes white) faces, leather or rubber bands, multi-functional show-offs, and now and then a diamond or two for glitz. 


                                             Black Mamba


THE WAY A LOT OF THESE TOUGH CHIC accessories are being marketed is smart, sassy, and very updated.  Take for instance, the new Swiss watch Black Mamba by Nubeo.  This is a grouping of sporty timepieces with the on-court moniker of NBA star, Kobe Bryant, co-producer of the collection. Black Mamba!  The name alone is a come-on!


And just listen to the watch’s description: Titanium casing, black rubber strap, slick, smooth curves, and optional emeralds and diamonds.  Whew!  Of course, these hot Black Mamba watches carry big price tags, starting at over $20,000, but you can copy them at much, much lower prices if you just put your mind to it.  It’s the mood you want: the rubber, the black.  Get it?

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

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