Fashion Facets

DRESS YOUR CASES IN BUSINESS CASUAL

Integrating apparel and jewelry in your displays can help customers to see how the two work together. And for customers who are confounded by what “business casual” means, such displays can show exactly how jewelry is an important part of making casual clothes work for work.

Pulsar Watch Co. recently hosted a seminar to teach women how to dress for Casual Fridays and casual workplaces. The company offered tips to make the transition from dressed up to dressed down without buying a whole new wardrobe. You can use these tips, plus a few extras from JCK, to help educate your customers. And, if you can dedicate two or three showcases, assemble some outfits yourself and put these ideas in practice in your display. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Here are few examples.

1. One of the best ways to stretch a business wardrobe is to break suits apart and wear the pieces as separates. Pair pants and skirts with turtlenecks or cardigans for a softer and more relaxed look, or combine a suit blazer with a T-shirt and trousers or khakis. Try a crisp cotton shirt and wear it as a jacket — unbuttoned over slim pants and a T-shirt.

JCK’s tip for these outfits: add a scarf and pin to the turtleneck and cardigan; use a classic 1-inch belt with a jeweled buckle — check out the jewelry designers who have added belt buckles to their lines. Add a bold link collar or long pendant necklace to the jacket/T-shirt combo. Try a neckerchief in place of the necklace and put a pin on the jacket lapel. Turn back the cuffs of the shirt and add a bold cuff bracelet or multiple bangles. Add some swinging earrings and place a few scatter pins on the collar of the shirt.

2. Pants are quickly replacing the 1980s power suit and are accepted in many businesses. In fact, pantsuit sales have risen 167% since 1990. But what pants to wear? Newest is a pair of classic flat-front trousers with a narrow cut. Classic trousers still work. And more casual khakis get beautifully dressed up with a sweater set or a tailored navy blazer.

JCK’s tip: Timeless classics — diamond or pearl stud earrings and a diamond solitaire necklace or single strand of pearls — work with everything from black tie to black leggings. For women just starting to build their jewelry wardrobe, these are foundations equivalent to the navy suit, white cotton shirt and black turtleneck.

Other tips: Don’t forget the right watch, says Pulsar. Classic strap styles work with suits and casual attire. Sporty silver-link bracelets are modern, and a variety of jewelry-style watches can be worn with traditional businesswear or used to add polish to a blazer and T-shirt. Lynn Ramsey, president and chief executive officer of the Jewelry Information Center, calls watches the ultimate accessory for Casual Friday, a finishing touch for a sophisticated, yet casual look.

Develop your apparel/jewelry display in conjunction with a better woman’s clothier in your town. The clothier should be more than willing to let you borrow apparel in exchange for a mention in the store and in your promotions.

Speaking of promotions, organize a joint fashion show with the clothier to benefit a women’s charity or set up a cooperative discount or sweepstakes promotion so customers can win clothing and jewelry wardrobes.

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE

John T. Molloy, author of the yuppie fashion bible of the 1980s, Dress for Success, advises not to abandon suits so fast. He thinks casual dress can be detrimental to woman’s success because most top executives wear formal business attire even on Friday. Employees — especially women — who keep their jackets on tend to be taken more seriously.

In an article written for Glamour magazine, he says that when focus groups were shown pictures of suited male and female executives, they didn’t see any power difference between them. But when shown pictures of the executives with their jackets off, they perceived the men to have more power than the women.

How to suit back up without raising suspicious eyebrows? Don’t. Instead, opt for tailored trousers, shirt and jacket combos in place of more casual khakis and T-shirts. A tailored watch and a signature piece of jewelry complete the look.

DESIGN FINDS

W. Wade Petersilie, GG, favors structural shapes, bold lines and stone settings that evoke the same solidity and strength of the Rocky Mountains that overlook his hometown of Colorado Springs. His custom designs are influenced by the juxtaposition of polish and texture in the settings and the gems themselves.

Petersilie’s work can be seen in galleries and fine jewelry stores in resort areas across the U.S., including Aspen and Vail and the Broadmoor in Colorado; Carmel, Cal.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Nashville, Tenn. His work is available also in selected Neiman Marcus stores.

W. Wade Petersilie, 915 W. Cucharras St., Colorado Springs, CO 80905; (719) 634-0541.

Pendant on an 18k gold chain by W. Wade Petersilie features a blue chalcedony carved by Steve Walters.

Russian-born Gene Davidov moved to the U.S. from Leningrad in 1978 and began to make jewelry upon his graduation from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 1984. His specialty is colored diamonds, which he values for their rarity.

The designer, who still makes his home in Minneapolis, has designed jewelry for the rock star formerly known as Prince, and his wife, who is still known as Maijte. His work is featured in the Nordstrom store at the Mall of America in Minnesota, and he has clients in Boston, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as in cities in Russia and Germany.

Gene Davidov, 800 Washington Ave. N., Suite 321, Minneapolis, MN 55401; (612) 339-6862.

SEARCH FOR THE UNKNOWN GIFT-GIVER

In late August, a floral bouquet was delivered to JCK Fashion Editor Hedda Schupak, who had just left for a vacation. Unfortunately, the card was misplaced. Will the sender please notify us so he or she can be thanked? (A fellow editor took the flowers to an elderly woman in a local hospital.)