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Your Stylist: Style advice to soothe your sartorial woes

February 15, 2010 |  8:00 am

Resident Image stylist Melissa Magsaysay answers your style queries in the weekly Your Stylist blog column.

Are animal prints still in vogue? If yes, how can a 50-ish woman wear animal
prints and keep the outfit age-appropriate and classy - MM, Sherman Oaks

Talbotscartieranimalprints If we are really playing by the fashion rule book here, then animal prints are so last season when they reigned as a ubiquitous accent to the bold '80s look of fall. But the way I see it, animal prints are classic and when worn in moderation with basic pieces, can work any time as a stylish punctuation for any age, all year long.

For someone in their 50s (or anyone above 35 for that matter), avoid any animal-print pieces hanging from the accessory racks at fast fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M. Though these stores are great for inexpensive, fashion-forward items, they take seasonal trends and put a young spin on them. If you wear a hot pink and turquoise leopard-print scarf, it will look like the start to a bad Punky Brewster costume.

Stick with neutral colors such as tan, ivory, black and brown. Avoid anything with a metallic sheen, piping or foil because they will instantly turn the look from fresh and modern to “Married to the Mob.” Ysl

A leopard-print cardigan that hits below the hip looks chic with a skinny belt around it or simply left unbuttoned over a button-down shirt. It’s an easy way to freshen up everyday work staples, adding texture and depth to boring black slacks and a white blouse.

Try an animal-print scarf from Yves Saint Laurent thrown around your neck or over the shoulders of a little black dress. Pair it with simple black ballet flats or a pump – the combination is timeless and age appropriate for sure.  

My favorite animal-print accessory is the Tank Solo watch from Cartier’s Les Must collection. It comes in this graphic leopard print that works surprisingly well with the classic Tank shape of this truly covetable timepiece.

Integrating animal print accessories into your existing wardrobe should look effortless, confident and much more traditional than trendy. Skip the colorful twists or outlandish takes on the print, and use animal prints as a way to break up the lines of everyday basics.

I’m taking a break from the skinny jeans and getting more into flare-leg jeans, especially for spring/summer. Are there any specific brands or tips for someone who doesn’t have mile-long legs? - JL, Encino

Amen to that! I overdosed on skinny jeans and "jeggings" recently, swinging the denim pendulum completely in the other direction. I am currently loving flare-leg jeans, especially with the relaxed '70s vibe of spring. The style of jeans fit the look of next season perfectly, but for anyone under 5-foot-11 that great flowing line of leg-to-flare is hard to achieve without dragging dirt off the floor or having to wear 6-inch platform shoes.

I’ve had flare-leg jeans hemmed, only to get them back and realize the break of the flare had been chopped off in order to fit my 5-foot-4 frame, leaving me with a short, stumpy finish rather than that elegant lean line that drew me to the jeans in the first place. The ideal thing would be to find a flare-leg jean that doesn’t need to be hemmed, but the way jeans are made these days, hemming is inevitable, unless you’re the fit model they were initially molded to.

Martinosamihjeans Luckily, I seem to have found the perfect flare-leg jean for vertically challenged gals like me. The flare fit jean from Martin + Osa needs no hemming and works with everything from flip-flops to heels. The wash is a faded, worn blue, which keeps them really casual and fit for T-shirts and flat leather sandals. The best part is that they’re $99.50, so should you start loving your denim leggings again, you won’t feel like these are a wasted investment.

Speaking of investments, MiH denim makes a beautiful flare-leg jean that is more sophisticated than the Martin + Osa version and at $244, certainly a more grown-up price tag to match.

The Marrakesh style is a sleek, sexy flare-leg jean that is great for pairing with a crisp black blazer or billowy blouse and piles of layered jewelry. Since the flare starts higher up on the leg, there’s a little more room to play with in case you have them hemmed. 

The only thing worse than the sausage-casing feel of skinny jeans is looking like you’re drowning in flare-leg style denim. Stick to what fits your shape and height and if in doubt, have them hemmed half an inch longer so they slightly skim the ground. They’ll shrink up to perfect after the first wash.

--Melissa Magsaysay

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Photos: Top left, Talbots cardigan, $89/Talbots. Top right, Cartier Les Must Tank Solo, $2,200/Cartier. Center, YSL scarf, $365, at Saks Fifth Avenue/YSL. Bottom left, Martin + Osa flare fit jeans, $99.50, at Martin + Osa Century City/Martin + Osa. Bottom right, MiH Marrakesh jeans, $244, at / MiH Jeans.