[Trendzilla] Accent Pieces

You’ve heard the term “accent pieces,” right? A particularly striking coat with a great silhouette, a universal pair of heels or a timeless handbag usually fall under that category. These are accouterments for which you should be more willing to shell out cash—items that make a statement on their own, that would look amazing even if paired with the snooziest of basics.

This should be common sense, but by the looks of things at stores picked over dozens of times by all the cool kids in town, I’m not so sure anymore. Urban Outfitters, Barney’s Co-op and American Rag all offer such things as $250 flannel button-ups and cotton sweaters. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no intricate craftsmanship involved, no fancy materials, no originality.

I purchased three flannels in the little boys’ section at Wal-Mart for $4.99 each last autumn (evil sure does feel good on the wallet). Later, while carousing the racks at Barney’s, a salesgirl asked if my classic red-and-black lumberjack-color-scheme flannel was from Dolce & Gabbana. And the boyfriend swears by the $15 Wrangler flannel shirts with the snap buttons they have in the Wal-Mart men’s sections.

If you take the time to browse the crowded racks at more “unconventional” stores, you’ll find something that bares a striking resemblance to something else just as cool, but for 30 times the price.

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Observe: the shirt dress. It’s a classic style that’s not going anywhere, but the fit is what’s different now. While the one my mother wore in her 20s featured a more tailored fit (which, of course, you can still wear even now) with crisp collars and rolled-up sleeves, the version that’s making the rounds these days almost resembles a Victorian nightdress. (Think John Darling in Disney’s Peter Pan.) It’s loose, juuuust covers the bum and looks like you pilfered it from your dad’s closet. Urban has versions for around $60 in stripes, solids and plaids—but none of them looks as good as this.

Our gal here, photographed outside La Cave in Costa Mesa, has on a cornflower-blue oversized men’s shirt belted at the waist with what looks like a silk striped tie, resulting in a billowy skirt effect. She finished off the simple but stylish look with a pair of opaque tights and large-buckled Mary Jane heels.

Her hair is perfectly rumpled, with not-too-neat curls—and I promise a boot to the face for anybody who objects to the drink and cigarette she has in either hand. She told me that everything she has on was either thrifted or vintage—I’m very appreciative of anyone who knows the difference.

I’m also very, very appreciative of skinny ankles.

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