When I was in my early thirties, newly divorced and dating, well-intentioned friends insisted on scheduling our girly get-togethers near Bloomingdales for a “bite of shopping.” When I was newly divorced (again!) in my mid-forties we’d meet for lunch in Barneys.
The obvious plan in both decades was to get me out of my beloved basic black, and into “something with a little more sex appeal — maybe red or pink, maybe a neckline lower than your collarbone” as my friend Julie put it.
Truth is, I loved the sophistication and attitude of wearing black — it has that whole French fashion thing going for it. Black turtlenecks, slim black trousers, and nearly black nail polish made me feel sophisticated and cool… the way colors never did.
Well here’s a news flash: Somewhere around 50 — right before I met my husband Robert — I began to prefer beige. Beige everything, from pencil skirts to tailored coats to shimmery beige pedicures. My girlfriends worried I was going through a peri-menopause stage of “the blahs.” After all, Lauren Hutton herself once told me in an interview that “wearing beige after 50 makes you invisible.”
I see it differently now and so do designers like Versace, Michael Kors, Valentino, Calvin Klein and Armani, who understand “nude” is the sexiest color alive. Beige, in all its variations from champagne to camel, is glamorous and classy, no matter what color your skintone. Worn head to toe, monochromatic, tone-on-tone, it says luxurious.
So if you’re bored with black, out there looking, or just want to stand out in the crowd — head straight for these beige-y beauties:
1. J. Crew has two amazing finds: a cashmere V-neck sweater in Honey Glaze ($145, jcrew.com) that’s sensual. low cut just enough (it won’t invite leering or an icky “cougar” comment). Wear it with white jeans or beige cords for a fresh look. Check too their wool/cashmere sweater dress in a style called “Dream Silvie” ($138, pictured, jcrew.com) with a scoop neck fitted top, ¾ sleeves and shirring in front so even without Spanx you’re svelte.
2. Keep the look tone-on-tone with Cole Haan’s “Carma” Air Pumps ($279, zappos.com) in sand-color patent leather. With open-toes, 3 ½ inch heels, and mini-platforms, they give everyone a leggy look, while the Nike Air Technology design allows you to stride and stand in extreme comfort. These are perfect for walking or standing at long cocktail parties and are neutral to go with anything.
3. Banana Republic has two softly tailored pieces for work and after five: a camel wool blend skirt, contoured flat across the hips to eliminate bulk with stitch-down pleats adding fullness at the bottom ($98, bananarepublic.com) and a café au lait merino wool tie-neck sweater $79.
4. For a business party or working dinner, splurge on Robert Rodriguez’s “Spanish Rose” hi-neck wool fitted sheath with mini-ruffle neckline in Bone ($451, Bergdorf Goodman, saksfifthavenue.com) This dress has couture-like fit and solves the cleavage situation elegantly.
5. And for a naturally sensual smile: a new lipstick like Lancôme Le Rouge Absolu Reshaping & Replenishing LipColour SPF 15 in Beige Cashmere ($26, sephora.com, Lancôme counters)