Check out the Instagram and Twitter feeds of fashion influencers and celebrities from the Kardashians, to singer/rapper Lizzo, to 71-year-old former fashion model and icon Linda Rodin and you’ll see that fashion is for everyone. Just like “real” women, these celebrities, beauty bloggers, and social media influencers, come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. No matter her age or body type, stylish fashion looks can be found for every woman.
And local fashionistas don’t need to drive to Jacksonville, Savannah, or shop solely online to keep up with the latest styles and trends. Locally-owned shops on the mainland and the islands offer an eclectic mix of the latest designs along with classic wardrobe staples.
According to Alyson Kowalchuk-Rahn, co-owner of the Gypsy Closet, an online and brick-and-mortar boutique in Brunswick, there are several fun trends that are accessible to women of all ages and sizes, including lots of animal prints, color, and retro fashions this spring. Hot retro looks include the iconic 70s bellbottoms, 80s shoulder pads (balanced by wearing slim jeans or slacks), and chunky boots, like the classic Dock Martins, from the 1990s.
“Animal prints seem to continue to carry forward. I’m a huge fan. So many mixed textile tops are combining an animal print, floral, and textured solid, making these perfect statement tops,” she says. “Then there are the solid animal prints, rompers, dresses, skirts or blouses. These solid prints should be paired with an awesome pop of solid color, for example a hot pink satin tank with a paper bag style leopard print pant. Tuck it in, add heels, and go!” Snake prints are also trending, Kowalchuk-Rahn says. She suggests pairing a snake print, balloon sleeve blouse with a skinny ankle pant that can be worn to the office or for a night out.
“It’s so much fun to see the circle of fashion,” she says. “Styles that were ‘cool for mom’ are cool for the younger girls now, too. Comfort seems to always be on the forefront. Crochet will be seen a lot, but in a more delicate and urban way. It is great for beach wear, tanks, or dainty tops. Bold colors and prints are also on the buyers’ lists.”
Kowalchuk-Rahn and her business partner and fellow mom, Whitney Bluestein, personally select each accessory and piece of clothing they sell. “We have such a nice variety of ages in our shop,” Kowalchuk-Rahn says, adding that they often have grandmothers bringing in their granddaughters to shop together. “I believe it’s all about what makes you feel beautiful.”
She says a few simple tweaks can be made to an ensemble if a shopper feels the look is “too young” for her. “We find that our mature shoppers tend to not want to wear sleeveless, so we find shawls or fun cardigans, or blazers to provide options. Layering is always an easy way to make an outfit change quickly.”
As the seasons change, so too do the fashion selections, says Catherine Slade, of Two Friends, a ladies’ boutique in Redfern Village.
“As far as colors for spring, what we see from season-to-season is most designers seem to pull from nature,” she says. “And as things start to bloom in the spring, you will see that reflected in the collections, which is the same for fall as the colors start to change.”
Incorporating some new trends in styles and colors can be done without breaking the bank, Kowalchuk-Rahn says.
“For every outfit, I have one or two items that are trending. It could be bellbottom denim and a hair accessory, or a trendy pair of shoes,” she says.
Adding a few “of the moment” pieces to your wardrobe staples can go a long way to update your look.
“I feel it makes your wardrobe more manageable. Staple items are very important, a foundation per se. Change one statement item and you have a completely different outfit,” Kowalchuk-Rahn says.
Dressing for Your Shape
Women of any size can look fashionable if they find clothing that not only fits well, but plays up the positive, according to Fred Rowe of Gentlemen’s & Lady Outfitters on St. Simons, who offers tips for full-figured women.
“Clothes that accentuate the positive and distract from the negative are always good,” Rowe says.
Scoop and v-neck lines will elongate the torso. A good fitting pair of denim jeans, that hug the waist and hips, but aren’t too skinny through the legs are a must for any full-figured lady’s wardrobe.
“Focus on accentuating the positive aspects of the body and don’t hide behind oversized clothing and extra fabric. Look for fitted styles, not tight. Be smart with layering. Open, thin layers like kimonos can add length without weight,” he says.
Rowe says his female customers are often looking for “lightweight travel dresses that pack without wrinkling, dry quickly and use stretch fabrics to not be restrictive; all in fun, bright-colored patterns. Full-figured women can shop these styles by focusing on smaller patterns with interesting necks and waistlines. They should avoid large shapes and patterns on fabric.”
He adds that straight and boot-cut pants, including those with a moderate flare leg, are good looks for someone with a fuller figure.
“Skinny pants like leggings and jeggings should be avoided. These will make the top half look disproportionately larger,” Rowe says.
For petite women, finding the proper balance between wardrobe pieces and accessories is key, Slade says.
“If you wear a chunky sweater, you’d want to pair it with a tapered pant or slim skirt,” she says. “Petite women should also avoid wearing oversized jackets or sweaters which are particularly unflattering on a petite frame.”
The length of pants, skirts, and dresses is important in picking flattering clothes for shorter women.
“In dresses and skirts, petite ladies should select either right above the knee or right above the ankle. Anything right past the knee really cuts you off and is not flattering,” Slade says.
“I’m petite and love long dresses, but they can be difficult to pull off. To do so, make sure you have some ankle showing and wear heels to elongate the body. With pants, you should also have a little ankle showing, which makes the legs appear longer.”
Large accessories can also overwhelm smaller women. “If you do choose a large statement necklace, don’t wear any other accessories or, if you do, keep the other accessory or accessories very understated.”
Although Slade keeps up with the ever-changing fashion landscape, she says she doesn’t slavishly follow every new trend.
“I never typically follow a ‘trend,’ but instead I like to focus on what looks best on my clients. For example, if one season designers are pushing wide leg culottes, we know those don’t flatter a petite frame. So, I wouldn’t put a petite client in them,” Slade says.
“My goal as a stylist and our goal at Two Friends, is to make women feel beautiful by accentuating what looks best on their bodies. I try to stick with classic basics and accentuate trends in the extras such as jewelry and accessories.”
For any woman of any age or size who wants to not only find flattering fashion but make the search enjoyable, Rowe said it is always best to go in with a positive attitude.
“Be positive and have fun. Try things on and smile. Don’t focus on what you can’t wear but what works for you. Know what your best attributes are and emphasize them,” he says.
“Direct attention to your face and be interesting in what you wear. Everyone has flaws, so don’t feel alone or hide behind yours.”