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INSTYLE GUIDE | Vol. 10, No. 49, December 11, 2008
(Stopping The Runaway Train)

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Hot Accessories Melt Winter Blues

by Jahna Jacobson

Chunky and bright, zippers with bite.

This season's fashion accessories are anything but subtle.

Do not adjust your set bright purples and saturated candy colors are filling the racks. Typically tiny details have been blown up to enormous sizes.

The purses are big, the shoes are bold.

Every piece makes a statement.

We're taking charge and talking loud.

Giant Gems

Put the little chains and tiny studs in the jewelry box until further notice.

This season the look is big, fearless and raw.

Designers are showing necklaces that are 10 percent jewelry and 90 percent construction project. Large stones, a mish-mash of materials and everything from sparkle to matte are being mixed and matched in a single piece.

Susan Campbell Jewelry in downtown Pensacola is featuring new jewelry by Oakland, California artist Melissa Joy Manning.

Manning's beautiful pieces use rough-cut stones, hammered metals and even fossils to create limited edition and one-of-a-kind pieces. She also uses all American metals and sticks to green and ethical business practices in her studio, says storeowner Susan Campbell, who carries only American jewelry in her store.

"(Manning) has an incredible collection of hammered metal objects, circles and elliptical shapes, and she links them together with delicate chain and makes linked necklaces as well," says Campbell. "We have bracelets starting at $75 in silver. The gold are $350."

The collection includes a wide variety of pieces, including fine jewelry and collector's pieces, she adds.

"She uses raw, irregular shaped rubies and multi-colored diamonds," she says. "In the store right now we have a green diamond, a reddish-pink diamond and a gray diamond."

Campbell's favorites also include a trilobite fossil necklace with black diamonds and pieces using a unique stone called drusy.

"I have pieces that are affordable for people who want to start collecting, and one-of a-kind pieces for more affluent collectors," Campbell says.

Kickin' Shoes

High heels or flats. Closed toe or open. Nubby textures or super shine. Anything goes as long as it pops.

Far from the typical drab black boots of winter, this season's shoes aren't taking the backseat.

The highest heels are showing up in rich pastels or eye-popping brights. Ballet flats are made of retro prints and adorned with their own set of beads and accessories. Boots are buckled up, strapped in, tied down and ready for a rock show.

At Lee Tracy Shoes and Apparel on Pensacola Beach, customers are pairing colorful Dav rain boots with the company's chenille over-the-knee socks. Far from galoshes, the boots come in chic shapes and op-art patterns.

"The boots come in leopard and houndstooth and other prints," says manager Brandi Tussell. "They are great for the winter because they are lined - and they look great with dresses because they have a heel."

"Everyone is wearing them with tall, above the knee socks" and short skirts and dresses, says Tussell.

Zippers front and center

Why waste a zipper closing a parka when this metal marvel can shine as an accessory?

Zippers have come out of hiding and are being used as trim on shoes, purses and clothing and even turned into pieces of jewelry that stand on their own. They have become the focal point for many designers, who are highlighting contrasting zippers on the season's popular gladiator-style heels or covering entire bags with ruffles made of the fastener.

Delicious Color

If you're over the age of 12, winter usually means navy, black, charcoal, and maybe a little splash of red around the holidays.

This season, depressing neutrals and uniform primary colors have taken a back seat for the season so tweaked and tempting secondary shades can take center stage.

Purple is a standout in shades from flossy lavenders to deep royals. Everything from the season's pewter to contrasting shades of lime and gold looks great mixed with purple and burgundy tones.

Other colors to watch for are candy colored tones. Whether super bright or saturated pastels, these colors possess a certain clarity that makes them as strong as they are whimsical. Nearly edible shades of aqua, peach, orange, lime and pink are all big, whether standing on their own or accenting black and gray pieces. Tights, scarves, gloves and hair accessories are all great ways to incorporate a punch of color into your wardrobe.

Big Time Bags

Purses are big, buckled and bold.

The season's hottest style is the satchel bag, which features a flap that buckles or snaps over the opening and covers the front of the bag. Maybe we are looking for extra security for our cash and cards, or maybe the flap is just a great way to showcase a few fancy fasteners front and center.

At Lee Tracy, the new Vera Bradley resort line in Mediterranean colors is flying off the shelves, as are purses and wallets by Hobo International and Lotus.

Many women are carrying the wallets and clutches as their bag, says Trussell.

While some conservative customers are sticking to camel and black, brighter colors such as kelly green, fucshia and turquoise have been popular, along with muted brights such a mustards and leaf green.

So there's no excuse for shuffling around in a winter slump. Brighten up with winter's new fierce palette. Show your bite with hip zippers and statement-making necklaces. Get some tall socks and some fearless boots and stride boldly into the New Year.