The buzz around “must-have” accessories for the fall and winter is all about making a statement.
After designers introduced their collections on runways from Paris to London to New York earlier this year, the focus for the upcoming season revolves around finding that one piece, from earrings, necklaces and pins to oversized bags and ankle booties, that completes an outfit.
“For fall 2015, it’s all about statement earrings – regardless if they come in pairs or just a single piece. The runways are filled with eye-catching ear jewelry,” fashion writer Mary Dizon wrote in May in a piece for ReelFashion.tv.
Dizon went on to highlight the must-have bag.
“For fall, it’s all about going overboard with oversized bags – whether it’s a handbag, a clutch, a carryall tote, shoulder bag/crossbody, or even a backpack. Calvin Klein, Chanel, and Ce?line are among the labels with the hottest larger-than-life bags as seen on the runway,” Dizon wrote.
While the “must-haves” highlighted on a Paris runway are influential, they do not control what shops in Maine are offering to their customers for the upcoming season.
Brooke Beaney was a clothing designer in New York before opening her own retail shop, Judith, in Portland in April 2014.
“Judith is my first and only store,” said Beaney. “I was a clothing designer for nine years – specifically a knitwear designer for the last seven, prior to moving to Maine.”
Beaney said that while she sees the trends, she has “not necessarily let them dictate my fall ’15 buy.”
“I think that ’70s references ran through many of my designers’ collections (for fall) and generally as a trend it speaks to my aesthetic,” said Beaney. “So while I may not have bought all of the must-haves, I definitely bought pieces that are part of the same narrative. Ankle booties have long been a wardrobe staple for me so I try to have a basic and then the evolution of the basic, for the customer who already has the basic. Mid-calf oxblood flat boots from Dieppa Restrepo and the Mars Mule (mule version of her classic bootie) from Rachel Comey are what I’m most excited about for this season in terms of footwear.”
Judith, which also offers online shopping, is billed as a “concept shop with a focus on women’s contemporary clothing, accessories and special objects.”
“We have gorgeous statement jewelry from Ursa Major – including a hand-painted straight pin – that speak to the jewelry trend,” said Beaney. “And large bucket bags from Building Block, and leather totes from Grei.”
In Wells, J. Rose offers “sophisticated and casual women’s accessories,” including fashion jewelry, scarves and handbags, from its shop at Post House Common on Route 1.
Owner Julianne Rose lives in Brunswick. Although J. Rose is her first retail venture, Rose said she has “always been interested in fashion, but not trendy necessarily, rather, what’s stylish.”
The store, which opened in July, features 40 designers from the United States, Europe – including several from France – and Asia. The emphasis is on accessories and statement pieces that complete a look.
“In winter, especially when you’re wearing lots of sweaters and dresses, if you put on a great piece of jewelry like a wonderful necklace it really finishes the outfit,” said Rose. “Accessories are a great way to change things up.”
Rose is seeing a big interest in statement necklaces from her customers.
“This summer, people were interested in fun bracelets, but as we move into fall it seems to be switching over to necklaces,” she said, “in fun colors and shapes and lots of different materials. We have metal pieces and natural resins that are sometimes finished to look like metal but are lightweight. A lot of my customers travel. It’s so easy with great lightweight necklaces.”
In addition to jewelry, J. Rose carries a selection of bags and clutches. One piece that Rose said has been particularly popular is made of what she called “vegan leather.”
“It has a leather-like look but is not an animal product,” said Rose. “The bags are reversible with different colors and textures on either side. It’s multi-use at a great price point.”
Both Beaney and Rose find that their customers, while interested in what is trending, are independent thinkers when it comes to fashion.
“I see many different types of Maine women in my shop, but generally I’d say they share a similar aesthetic if they are shopping with me. And whether or not it’s on trend, I buy what I am interested in for the store aesthetically while being extremely sensitive to characteristics like ease and hand feel,” said Beaney. “I suppose that while a lot of Maine women are aware of general trends, and may consider them when assessing their wardrobes, they are confident enough not to let that lead them.”
“My idea is that Maine women are not trendy, but are stylish. Women everywhere want to be stylish,” said Rose. “In winter it’s good to wear Bean boots and a down coat – I do – but I also wear a fun scarf and a great necklace with it.”
A fun necklace is always a must have, according to Rose.
“In winter a long chain necklace looks pretty against a turtleneck. Dress it up with a flat pearl necklace or a bold pendant,” said Rose. “Scarves are a lot of fun. We have a good selection all types of materials including cashmere. I love to pair different colored scarves with fun necklaces.”
Beaney said it makes sense to choose coats and boots that work in the snow and ice but to consider items “that you also feel great in, because you’ll be wearing them a lot.”
“And while a lot of women here (in Maine) prioritize their need for utility and practicality over their desire for something more elegant, or just something that makes them extremely happy to wear, in the realm of outerwear and footwear I think it’s a must to consider shoveling your driveway in the old bubble-goose you’ve had forever and consider purchasing a long wool coat and booties as pieces that you can wear everywhere else,” said Beaney. “And yes, they may get wet, but that’s what you paid for.”
Although Jean Briggs is not involved in the world of fashion, the owner of Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport knows something about style. The works of art in her gallery radiate with beauty and elegance. She does not consider herself “fashionable,” but others would disagree. Briggs is known around town for her timeless flair.
“Keep it simple and classic. I learned that early on,” said Briggs. “Less is more.”
For fall and winter, Briggs recommends a simple cape or wrap for outerwear – and women can never go wrong with art deco jewelry.
“All you need is one magnificent piece,” she said.
Briggs took advice from an old friend years ago about how to dress.
“He told me, don’t ever have more than nine items on. It’s the magic number, and that includes shirt, earrings, belt, shoes, whatever it is,” she said, “whatever can be seen.”
Although Briggs keeps it classic, there is a fashion-forward line she has “fallen in love with.”
“Bernie Mev shoes – that’s my fashion statement,” said Briggs. “They’re all man-made materials so nothing has died for them. They’re comfortable, they last and are reasonably priced. I love them. Don’t get a knockoff, though. Be sure to the get the real Bernie Mevs.”
For Beaney, design and fashion provide a perfect opportunity to express individual creativity and interests, “to communicate without words.”
“It can tell a story, set a scene, bring people together, tear people apart,” she said. “The storytelling part of it has always been the most interesting, and subsequently most fun, part of it for me.”
Jean Briggs finds that “less is more” when it comes to fashion. Briggs, the owner of Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport, has an eye for unique and beautiful items in both art and accessories. Staff photo by Faith GillmanJ. Rose offers “sophisticated and casual” accessories from its location on Route 1 in Wells. The shop, which opened in July, has a selection of fashion jewelry, scarves, handbags and other pieces. Staff photo by Faith GillmanJudith, a “concept shop” on Market Street in Portland, focuses on contemporary clothing for women.Courtesy photoJulianne Rose, the owner of J. Rose, has put together fun and stylish accessories in her shop.Staff photo by Faith Gillman