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Metro Detroit

July 23, 2014

Transitioning summer styles into fall fashion

Make your current wardrobe work for every season

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Mary Liz Curtin, owner of Leon and Lulu in Clawson, shows off a selection of scarves for sale at her store that can dress up any outfit.
Bethany Shorb, founder of Cyberoptix Tie Lab, designs unique neckties for gentlemen. Created in-studio in Detroit, the company offers a range of designs, including this one with a 1912 blueprint of Michigan Central Station.
 

METRO DETROIT — It seems the moment the fireworks have died down and the last hot dog has been eaten after Independence Day, retailers immediately set their minds — and their displays — to autumn.

For some, the thought of already having to ditch lighter attire for heavier, darker duds can be a damper on the spirit, not to mention the pocketbook. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were shopping for the perfect bathing suit? For fashion fans, the pressure is on now to start shopping for fall clothes.

The key to finding relief from seasonal style anxiety is to build a wardrobe foundation that can be stretched throughout the year and tweaked accordingly to suit Mother Nature’s many moods. For women, that foundation can be whittled down to five key pieces, according to Mary Liz Curtin, owner of Leon and Lulu in Clawson.

“A great pair of leggings, a black skirt, a black cardigan, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a tank; that’s what you need,” explained Curtin. “You can wear them all different ways. The black leggings in the summer can be put under a little dress. Then, for fall, you add a sweater. For winter, you add two sweaters. Those pieces make a great versatile base for your wardrobe. In any basic neutral color, it gives you the whole story.”

Of course, other neutral tones like gray or brown will do the trick, as well, for those staple pieces. And don’t worry about looking at a closet full of depressingly dull colors, Curtin said. Once you’ve got your foundation built, you can add your own touches day to day to keep the look fresh.

“If you take care of the basics, you can have fun with accessories. Buy a fabulous necklace that’s fun and wacky, or put a colored blouse on top of that tank. You can do frilly and feminine, or add a boyfriend jacket and do a different look,” she said. “You don’t want to spend a ton of money on trends. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to buy a whole new wardrobe because you look like last year’s outfit.”

Curtin stocks many of those key pieces in her Clawson store, which aside from clothing has a unique selection of stylish furniture, home décor and giftware. But much of her clothing selection is for her female clientele.

That’s not uncommon, according to Bethany Shorb, founder of Cyberoptix Tie Lab in Detroit. The designer and Cranbrook Academy of Art alumna said she got into the tie-making business because she noticed a definite lack in options for gentlemen who wanted to ramp up their look with accessories.

“Men really get the short end of the stick, as far as cool stuff. It’s marketed by women, so what’s there tends to be a little crafty or squeaky. I try to skirt the novelty area while making things fun and creative,” said Shorb.

It’s a good thing, too, because many fashion experts will tell you that just like with the ladies, the secret to sliding between seasons with style and wallet unscathed is to use basic neutral garments accessorized with appropriate pops of color.

“There’s been a huge trend this summer with a lot of pastels and floral for men. I get it; it’s fun. But unless you’re in a climate that can support wearing that for more than three months, we have to be a little more realistic. If you get slush and mud on your ivory suede loafers, it’s not going to be a good time.”

Shorb said that guys should think about buying basic pieces — slacks, shirts, etc. — in warm, neutral colors. Then add layers of color with patterned shirts and sweaters, as well as accessories to be brighter in the summer and darker in the winter.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun; you don’t want to be all boring and gray and traditional because we’re in the Midwest. Neckties or scarves can bring in a pop of color, and you’re not going to be dragging your necktie through the snowy street,” said Shorb.

She added that accessories for men need not be restricted to the neck.

“Don’t be afraid of the hat. You can do different hats in winter and summer. I think that’s a place where men can branch out and have some fun. Also, don’t be afraid of really awesome sneakers. They’re not just for the gym anymore. Much-higher-end designers are coming out with (sneakers), but other designers are doing the same for a more reachable price. You can make a winter outfit a little more fun and a little more casual with a different shoe.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.