Spring 2016: Fashion

Prom fashion made simple

Caitlin Archibald, 15, an intern at A Touch of Grace, Watertown, displays an open-back prom dress. Open-back dresses are a popular style this prom season. Photo by AFM Photography.

Caitlin Archibald, 15, an intern at A Touch of Grace, Watertown, displays an open-back prom dress. Open-back dresses are a popular style this prom season. Photo by AFM Photography.

From style selection to DIY, local experts say choices shouldn’t overwhelm when searching for the perfect formal dress

By Katie Machia, NNY Living

Kathy Lettiere, owner of A Touch of Grace, 440 Coffeen St., Watertown, has worked with many mothers and daughters searching for the perfect prom dress since she opened her store 20 years ago.

Mrs. Lettiere offers some helpful advice to avoid potential conflicts.

“The girl needs to express her own individual style,” she said “She really has to love the dress.”

While mothers can give their daughters some guidance, they should be careful “not to press them to choose the style and color that they personally like” if their daughter does not have the same opinion, Mrs. Lettiere said.

“You don’t want your daughter to buy a prom dress and think back in years to come that she liked the dress, but did not really love it,” she said.

Sometimes money may be an issue. If the dress cost more than the parent’s budget, “you could offer to pay half, and have your daughter pay half,” she said.

It’s not unusual for a girl to first come into the store, looking at dresses with her friends and after finding the “right one,” returning with her mother to get her approval, Mrs. Lettiere said.

Staff at A Touch of Grace keep a registry of the prom dresses sold, and they will not sell the same dress to two girls who are planning to attend the same prom. Not only will they not sell the same style, but they won’t sell the same style even if it’s in a different color, said Mrs. Lettiere.

A Touch of Grace offers dresses in sizes zero to 30 and carries designers such as Alfred Angelo, DaVinci, Jovani, LaFemme, Sidney’s Closet and many others. In 2011, the store added a dress showroom to expand its inventory and the number of dressing rooms.

Some of the most requested styles at A Touch of Grace have included two-piece dresses, beaded dresses, and those with open backs, Mrs. Lettiere said.

According to major fashion publications, other prom dress trends this spring include:

  • Cutouts — Cutouts are one of the most popular trends this season. From a subtle cutout on the back to cutouts on the sides of a gown, these will surely be a popular look at your prom. There are so many different variations to the size and shapes of these cutouts, you’re guaranteed to find one that suits you best.
    n One-color dresses — In recent years, it’s been all about sparkly, glittery, shiny gowns. There is more of a movement toward one-color, more simple pieces. If you’re going for a simple gown, make sure there is more emphasis on the shape of the dress. Red, black, white and dark blue are some of the most popular colors for this trend.
  • Two-piece dresses — You can thank Taylor Swift for the popularization of this trend. Since her appearance at the Grammy Awards this year in a colorful two-piece look, this has been predicted to be one of the most popular prom dress styles. Celebrities including Emma Stone, Sarah Hyland and even Rihanna have been seen wearing this style. This is the perfect way to show off some skin while still keeping things classy. You can wear this with a long sleeve or strappy top and a short skirt or long skirt for the bottom.
  • Floral prints — Floral prints are having a moment this year. The ultra-feminine style can be on the bodice, skirt or even the entire pattern of the gown. The bolder the print, the better, it seems this season. This print has always been popular, but seems to be a hit now more than ever.
  • Sheer — The sheer material trend has grown in recent years. This style is a perfect way to get those ball gown aspects in your look without wearing a full skirt. Generally, this style is seen on the bottom of the dress, usually with an intricate floral lace pattern meshing in with it. It can also be used as a top layer over the original pattern of the dress. Finally, it can be used for paneling on a dress, for the appearance of cutouts without the actual cutting out of the material.
  • Off-the-shoulder — This trend is not only big in everyday wear, but also in the evening wear segment. This style can be seen on a one-piece or a two-piece dress. The material can be a beaded, printed, or have a lace design. This is a perfect way to ensure you have a unique cut to the top of your dress.
  • High slits — This style was made famous by Angelina Jolie at the Oscars in 2012. Since then, designers and celebrities have been including this style in their looks for almost every red carpet event. The rule of thumb for a high slit is to make sure there is coverage everywhere else, and this style is bound to make a statement.
  • High-low split skirt styles — Another trend made famous by Taylor Swift is the high-low split skirt style. This style is perfect for dancing. Your legs aren’t restricted by a tight dress, but you have the long material in the back to keep the dress fancy looking.

 


A style all their own

Kyra Philbrick, 17, an 11th-grade student at Watertown High School, sews the lining of her prom dress. “I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said of the dress she plans to wear next year. Photo by AMF Photography.

Kyra Philbrick, 17, an 11th-grade student at Watertown High School, sews the lining of her prom dress. “I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said of the dress she plans to wear next year. Photo by AMF Photography.

Students craft prom, homecoming dresses

Some high school students choose to create their own prom or homecoming dresses, rather than buying them.

Susan Lauraine, Watertown High School family and consumer science teacher, has been teaching for more than 27 years. She has allowed students to make their own dresses as part of a graded project.

“This is a two-semester elective class, and the first semester is clothing core,” she said. “We cover the history and the cycles of fashion, how fibers are made, and how the sewing machine works.”

The second semester is clothing production, and that’s when students have the opportunity to make a dress for a special occasion, such as a prom or homecoming dance.

“There are not a lot, maybe one or two a year, and it’s not every year,” Mrs. Lauraine said. “It’s a lot of work and can be costly.”

But for those who choose the option, it can be a very rewarding way to express their creativity and originality, along with showing off their fashion design and sewing skills, she said.

While the choice of fabrics and designs has changed over the years, “students have always like shiny and glittery,” she said.

“I always say concentrate on what looks good,” Mrs. Lauraine said. “Aim for simple designs with awesome fabrics.”
She recalled some dresses made by former Watertown High School students.

“Donna Sanders made a dress out of netting with hula hooping, there was just a bodysuit underneath,” she said.

“Alex Smith also created a dress three years ago. She had phenomenal skills. The dress was a classic design, fit perfect, and wasn’t outlandish.”

Kyra Philbrick, 17, is a junior at Watertown High School and just recently started working on her prom dress for next year.

“I’ve been planning this since I started sewing,” she said. “I want to have my own original dress.”

Her dress will be a strapless, gold-colored “high-low split skirt” with a russet brown lining.

Although she is not making a prom dress, Chynna Tucker, 15, is working on a dress to wear for the next homecoming dance. She just started it a few days ago.

“I think it’s going to be a fun, yet challenging task,” she said.
Her homecoming dress will be a long style with a chiffon glittery yoke, a bunched midriff and a bunched skirt.

There are 12 students in Mrs. Lauraine’s class, three boys and nine girls. The boys have been making bow ties and pocket scarves, and the girls have been working on evening bags.

Some of her past students have continued on with careers in fashion and costume design, with several attending colleges in New York City following their WHS graduation.

Mrs. Lauraine’s family and consumer science class recently made approximately 50 costumes for the school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” last month.

An upcoming project will focus on sewing dresses for underprivileged girls in Africa, as a way to help promote self-esteem, Mrs. Lauraine said.

Katie Machia, 18, is a Watertown native and freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She writes about fashion on her blog, theaisleofstyle.com, and is a regular contributor to NNY Living. She also models for print and runway shows. Contact her at theaisleofstyle@gmail.com.

Holiday 2015: Fashion

Accessorize for the holidays

The fur stole is a trendy piece worn around one shoulder and wrapped across the stomach.

The fur stole is a trendy piece worn around one shoulder and wrapped across the stomach.

Text by Katie Machia  |  Photos by AFM Photography

One of the most important things you can do to create a perfect winter look is to accessorize. This is often the last step in the process of getting dressed, but can be one of the most important. The designers of this year’s Fashion Week 2015 collections have got you covered with the most up-to-date accessories for your closet. Whether it be boots, handbags or jewelry, there are many new styles and colors to try.

A good scarf is an essential winter item for anyone living in Northern New York, where it’s not uncommon for temperatures to drop below zero. Many different styles were shown on the runways this past season, and by far the most popular style was the fur stole. This trendy piece is worn around one shoulder and wrapped across the stomach. It works best over a thick sweater or a coat, and you can finish it off with a slim belt tied just above your stomach.

Another popular style is the slim scarf. Taking inspiration from the 1970s, this look emits a cool and confident feeling. Wrap it once around your neck, and tie it the second time around, letting it hang loose. This looks great with any V-neck blouses or thinner jackets. It’s the perfect scarf to wear under your coat as well.

If you want something more practical for the north country winters, go for a blanket scarf. This oversized accessory is meant to be worn around the neck, but can also be unfolded and thrown over the shoulders. These scarves usually come in warm fabrics and a variety of prints. Don’t be afraid to go for a bold print or pattern, but make sure your jacket is a neutral color. This scarf is perfect for those days when you don’t want to get out of bed and feel like you need to bring your blanket to the office.

Bandanas are one of the hottest trends for this season, as this accessory is making a huge comeback. There are two ways to wear a bandana. You can fold the two ends of a bandana together and tie around your neck, or you can roll it and tie it into a knot. Both looks are clean, classic, and very chic. This trend looks best with a V-neck sweater, basic long-sleeve t-shirt, or a light cardigan.

When it comes to jewelry, the trend this year can be described as “more is more.” Lots of layering, big bling, and sparkly things are all the rage. One of the major trends is the brooch, which is making a reappearance from the past. This piece of jewelry can make a huge statement on bags, jackets and blazers. The more the better, so mix multiple pins on a denim jacket for a retro look. For a classier and cleaner look, place a brooch on your handbag.

The next big thing is the cuff earring. This style started to slowly emerge a couple years ago, with only a few people jumping onto the band wagon. The popular style used to be small and subtle, but this year extravagant, wild, “out-there” cuffs have made an appearance. Wear one of these earrings that wraps all the way up your ear to make a statement at your next Christmas party. They can also be dressed down with more casual pieces like a plain T-shirt and jeans.

L_FAS_Winter_4_1115 WEBFancy pieces like pearls, diamonds, and floral are going to have a heavy presence this season. The feminine jewels are perfect for holiday parties and get-togethers. To ensure the perfect balance of pieces, mix the jewelry with solid colors, or more casual dresses. If you want to go all out, a perfect pair of diamond earrings or a gemstone statement necklace would be stunning paired with a gown.

Handbags are always a hot topic every time a new season comes around. They’re one of the most popular items, and designers are always introducing new styles, fabrics, and patterns. This season, furry bags are expected to be extremely popular. These started to make their appearance on the scene last year, but only recently have they been seen more on the streets. They’re perfect for Northern New York, because they are not only very practical for winter, but they can make any outfit look instantly chic. This must-have bag can go with everything from a basic T-shirt and jeans to a fancy gown.

Another popular accessory is the belt. This season’s motto is “the wilder, the better,” with bows, loops, and additional extravagant detail being extremely popular. The runway shows were filled with looks containing chains and metal belts. If you’re not that adventurous and want to stick to a more subtle look, take a plain black belt, loop the strap underneath the front, pull it through behind, and stick it through the loop. This is a very popular tying method, and looks great with sweaters, dresses, and even some light jackets. If you want to go for a bolder look, try a big buckle belt. This accessory looks best paired with a chunky sweater or mod-shift dress.

Shoes are usually every woman’s favorite accessory, and if not, they’re still pretty high up there on the list. Some re-occurring styles that will be popular this winter include thigh-high boots, slip on sandals with fur, and patent leather boots. One style that is very wearable and easy to find in Northern New York is the ankle boot. This trend has been popping back up from time to time, but it really had a hard-to-miss presence on the runway this year. These boots can be styled so many different ways, the versatility is unbelievable. My favorite way to wear them is with dark denim, a cute skirt with thick tights, or even a pair of culottes.

A style that people tend to have mixed opinions on is the “socks with sandals” trend. Whether or not you like this look, you’ll probably be seeing more of it this winter. It’s extremely practical for when you don’t feel like wearing boots all day at the workplace. Throw on a pair of colored socks, like gray, white, or black, and when you get indoors, take off your boots and put on a pair of slip on sandals, or strap on your favorite pair of wedge sandals. This looks great with a boyfriend jean or even a dress with tights.

There are so many great accessories to try this winter. The key is to keep a good balance, and not add everything at once. The golden rule is to always take off one accessory before you go out if you’re wearing a lot of them. This will ensure that you have the perfect combination of pieces. Remember to always have fun with your accessories and add some bold pieces every once in a while.

Katie Machia, 17, is a Watertown native and freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She writes about fashion on her blog, theaisleofstyle.com, and is a regular contributor to NNY Living. She also models for print and runway shows.Contact her at theaisleofstyle@gmail.com.

Summer 2015: Fashion

Summer brings back the ’70s

Dresses, jewelry and orange handbag are from Finley’s Closet. Jean jacket and shoes belong to model. Sunglasses, hat and head wrap provided by stylist. Fashion styling by Katie Machia; hair and make-up by River Day Spa and Salon, Clayton; models from AMS Models and Talent, Syracuse.

Dresses, jewelry and orange handbag are from Finley’s Closet. Jean jacket and shoes belong to model. Sunglasses, hat and head wrap provided by stylist. Fashion styling by Katie Machia; hair and make-up by River Day Spa and Salon, Clayton.

This year’s summer fashion trends will see signs of ’70s-era style, stripes creep in popular looks

By Katie Machia | Photos by AFM Photography | Models from AMS Models and Talent [Read more…]

Spring 2015: 36 Hours Toronto

Explore Canada’s largest city next door

By Norah Machia

Graffiti art covers the walls of a city alley. Photo by AFM  Photography.

Graffiti art covers the walls of a city alley. Photo by AFM Photography.

Toronto offers unparalleled cross-border fun

Toronto is the largest city in Canada, with a population of more than five million people in the greater metropolitan area. This bustling, multi-cultural city is situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and is considered one of Canada’s top tourist destinations. It’s also the location of the largest financial center in the country. [Read more…]