Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grey is the New Nude is the New Brown is the New Black.

Brown has always been my Black.  For one, it's easier to see details on Brown than Black.  For two, I have never been classy or depressed enough to work black as a signature color. For three, as much as I try to hide it with blingy door-knockers and exhuberant 80s excess, I have a serious bohemian style streak -- which of course requires weathered brown boots.

I love my Frye Campus 14L boots in Saddle Brown.

 I love my Frye Paige Tall Riding Boots in Dark Brown.

But I'm ready for a new Brown. And that new Brown is Grey.  I want all Grey shoes, please.  What's great about Grey is that it's a neutral, but still gets noticed because not everyone wears it. It's true that in clothing Grey tends to wash people out but with footwear I think it just looks classy and distinguished.

Last spring a "Nude" trend hit that has stuck around, especially for footwear.  I put "Nude" in quote marks because the range of colors that are getting called "Nude" does not reflect what most people I know look like naked.  It maybe reflects what Blake Lively looks like naked before, during, and after a week in the Hamptons.  But that's a dig on designer color-naming, not on Blake Lively.  I would like to see Blake Lively nude after a week in the Hamptons.  Sorry.

That aside, I'm into the whole dressing-your-skin-tone thing -- but also, sometimes I like to speak to a trend without getting into a deep conversation, if you know what I mean.  And I think Grey and Nude could have some great small talk about saturation and hue and value.  By which I mean anything you can wear with a Nude shoe you can also wear with a Grey shoe of similar color properties.   

It's fall, so I'm thinking about boots, and when I think of boots, I think of The Frye Company.  The people there constantly amaze me with their ability to stay true to their aesthetic roots as a 100+ year old company while still putting out styles every year that are current and on-trend.  A pair of Frye boots NEVER goes out of style... do a search on ebay for Frye Boots and you'll find that a 30-year-old pair in good condition can go for nearly as much as a brand new set.  And most of their boots come in Grey.

Frye Paige Tall Riding

These are great in Dark Brown but fabulous in distressed Grey as well.

Frye Paige Huarache

Frye Paige Cuff

Frye Jane Tall Cuff

Frye Clovertab in Fawn

I guess technically these are Brown, but they are definitely a Grey-Brown.  Do you think they are made from real Fawns?  Faline? Is that you? You look FAWNtastic!

Frye Dorado Low

Frye Heath Piping Back Zip

I could find no available pics online of the "Piping Back Zip" part in Grey, so here you can see it in the Brown version:

These boots give me the same feeling I get from wildflowers:  they're simple, but far from boring. The high-quality materials and craftsmanship make them beautiful, and the design details of the zipper and piping give it *just* the right amount of interest.  They are kind of the best boots I've ever seen and are my new serious crush.

While I may act as if Frye is the only boot company in the world, this is not in fact the case!  I love these Grey boots by Ms. Albright:

And I also love Grey shoes that are not boots:

Frye Erin Oxford

Veve by Chie Mihara

Borne by Chi Mihara

Covered Wedge by Jeffrey Campbell #1

Covered Wedge by Jeffrey Campbell #2

Are you surprised at how incredibly NOT boring grey shoes are? A good designer knows that a neutral color is only going to allow the strength of the design to speak for itself, and all of the above are great examples.

A neutral colored shoe with great design detail is the perfect way to ground a bold, busy outfit.  Here's how stylists at Anthropologie did it with the Ms. Albright boot pictured above:

Or sometimes, variation in texture alone is enough to make a big statement. I love what stylists at Urban Outfitters did with the Paige Tall Cuff boots in this all-neutral outfit:

I would finish this outfit off with a big, slouchy, brown bag that would make Rachel Zoe stab herself in the eye and slap her mama.

... Like the Roni bag from Kooba that I have been lusting after for season upon season now. I love it because with this bag, it's ALL construction. No zipper pulls or grommets or studs or O-rings or bells or whistles or unicorn dust or whatever.  Just good patterning and good leather.

Or, as long as we're on expensive bags I lust after that go with neutral-textured outfits...

Large Veneta by Bottega Veneta is another bag that is all about materials and craftsmanship.  You know, I bet Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro's parents were dissapointed when they said they were going to major in basket-weaving.  I bet they complained about new-fangled 60s ideas about "arts" in education.  But in 1966 Michele and Renzo founded Bottega Veneta and built an EMPIRE out of basket-weaving, didn't they?  Take that, Rents.

My mom totally freaked out when I dropped my course of study to become a Government Employed City Planner in order to follow my stupid dream to be a Writer.  I guess she never heard of Bottega Veneta. Ha!


PS OMG! NY Fashion Week Starts Tomorrow! YESSSSSS!

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