Sunday, February 8, 2009

Desk to Dinner... The Conundrum

"Desk to dinner," is an oft referred to category of fashion merchandise placement which can drive a designer batty. It will not neatly fit into a category for an obvious reason: It is halfway between two clearly defined and well-understood needs for the consumer. To me it was a wasteland, just mark-down city. Looks neat and clean on the merch plan and only there. Consumers neither want it nor get it. It is a never ending effort of dress-it-up or pair-it-down with no real life of its own.

The shame of it is the idea is a good one for the way women live now if only it were better understood: Give them something which is attractive in the office and with few changes, carries her through her evening obligation/ dinner party/ client dinner.

It is just not that simple to get right, however. Because it depends where your desk is, where you go at night, and what brand you wear: It returns to who "she" is. And it forces her to think beyond just wearing a black suit all day.

This murky merchandising hell came to mind when I got stuck on this photo while shopping at Neiman's. I love the fresh color which could almost be a neutral and the construction drama in the same item. It is a sateen jacket but it was placed in the Evening area which probably owes to the fabrication being sateen and it having a sheen but in fact, sateen is not limited to evening, just as this jacket should not be:

Jacket and dress: Lela Rose at Neiman Marcus.

The jacket has landed the role of color pop which has shoved the whole get up into a lack of clarity. If I kept the ikat dress which is decidedly not day and has some issues for evening as well then I would clear up the day/desk/ dinner/ evening enigma in these ways:

Even during daylight I would put punch into the accessories in both color and style. For hauling up and down Seventh for meetings, I could pick of these handbag options:

This is Valentino's Ruffled Bowler, a lively but not over the top accent color in a hip style with a little fussy detail.

Or, for a more practical and understated approach which maintains the attention to detail I think is important in accessories, I might go with Valentino's Pleated Tote.

Or I could chose a neutral with bold, whimsical detail and leave my shoe color-punch options open. Valentino Rose Bowler.

Then the shoes. The first color that popped to mind was some vibrant blue to wake up the ikat, or kill it dead, I can't decide which...

I love this shoe for evening with the jacket. It is just not a day option however, because it is satin. That is an important rule of thumb, Ladies... I would need to change shoes before going out from the office, I hate that. Manolo Blahnik.

A good day to evening option, I might pick a neutral croc clutch to add some interest and let the shoe carry the punch and interest with this metallic. Manolo Blahnik.

In either case, depending on how dressy I need to be, I could carry this little number in my tote all day and make an evening change-up in seconds. Judith Leiber.

Twisting it all around for a different kind of day, say, followed by dinner in town with Josh, I would head here, possibly:

I know, maybe you like things to match up all nice and neat but that's not the name of the game anymore. Color flashes are good and healthy, learn to embrace them - in measured amounts. Love it with a neutral but lush bag:
Nancy Gonzalez Croc Clutch.

So you see, the jacket could co along way, in many directions, day or night for many professions though more sensible fields might back it down to a black dress and shoes. It will not disappoint then either. In all scenarios though, I would keep my hair painstakingly neat and sleek in order to let the jacket shine, and wish the whole entire time that I was a dark brunette...

All items available at Neiman Marcus.

1 comment: said...

I love seeing the Valentino bags. Thanks for posting!