May 16, 2011

Urban turbans, print mashing, harem pants (last gasp?) - this spring's oddities

Urban Turbans, Print Mashing, Low-crotched pants. Here are style pointers from the curious and daring mind of do-it-yourself fashion blogger, Niki Blasina of A Haute Mess. How to master this spring's more curious trends!

Niki Blasina of A Haute Mess mashing clashing prints.

Of course, it would be great to talk about hot weather spring and summer fashion trends, if only the weather would warm up.

Luckily, there a few looks this season that are not temperature dependent. They are challenging trends.

Specifically:Urban Turbans, Print Mashing, and Low-Crotched pants for women. Exactly how are they supposed to work?

Host Stephen Quinn and I spoke about it last week on CBC Radio's On the Coast.

Urban turbans?

Okay. Yes. The fashion trend for head scarves however are not related to the killing of Osama bin Laden. The urban turban, or the hair band, or the head scarf has more to do with Rosie the Riveter, economic recovery and BeyoncĂ©, the American pop star, even the royal wedding, than any Al-Qaida leader.

That’s good news. What is an urban turban?

Obviously, it’s a head accessory for women. They came out last year, but without much of a splash. They showed up again on runways for this spring’s collections and they’ve made a showing even for fall 2011.

As the name implies, they are fabric wraps that go around the head. Visually, they range in look from
Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda – the lovely and outlandish Brazilian film star of the 1940s and 1950s (If you ever see a woman or a cartoon with a pile of fruit on her head, you have Carmen Miranda to thank for that popular image) – to the more utilitarian style of head scarves worn by Rosie the Riveter.

They’ve showed up in videos by music performers such as BeyoncĂ©, Lady Gaga and Pink in the past. And it seems they’ve jumped into the mainstream.

How does one wear an urban turban?

For advice, I turned to the really great and fun Vancouver fashion blogger, Niki Blasina. She posts on a blog called,

Niki calles the urban turban an “edgy, chic” alternative over the spent straw fedora of the last few years.

When we talked this morning about it, it really matches with garments evoking the 70s bohemian revival that’s suppose to be big this season. But it can also be worn with a basic outfit, like jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s always a dramatic look. If you decide to sport one be prepared for comments.

The way to wear it is to think of it as a replacement for the summer toque or, better yet, as Niki told me, the slouchy beret knit hat that has been kicking around.

Niki says, you can find them in stores. She mentioned: Fine Finds in Yaletown has them. The brand is called Head Mistress from Toronto.

But on Niki’s blog,, she will show you how to make one if you want to save a few pennies. Niki just says go for the urban turban and have fun with it. It’s a great way to take care of a crazy hair day.

Before we move on to the other spring trends, what behind that head scarf trend?

I think it’s recession and recovery related. When a woman controls her hair through hats, which are big again, or head scarves, it suggests the control of the unruly.

Traditionally, like in images of Rosie the Riveter, the headscarf keeps hair out of the way when a woman is working. So its functional. The more women work, the more they control their hair. Albeit, the urban turban is a casual fashion, not a workplace one.

And as men’s fashion trends have become more severe and masculine, I think this trend relates to the idea of an assertive woman even though the head scarf is often thought of as a playful accessory.

Another trend I mentioned was “Print Mashing:” what’s is print mashing?

I call it Print Mashing. Most people call it PATTERN MIXING. But the way Niki does it is closer to Mashing.

She breaks all the rules when it comes to mixing polka dots with plaid.

I always say on this show, to choose patterns of different scale and Niki says beginners should follow that rule.

But in practice Niki loves to crash patterns into each other and actually, she personally is pushes matching scales to the edge. Every pattern is nearly the same size.

They clash.

But she can’t help herself, It’s one of her favourite things to do. And she says, bring clashing patterns together, one can surprise oneself.

How does one print mash well?

Niki says, it works best if both patterns share a colour. She has an example on her blog of wearing a bright floral blue top and a navy skirt with polka dot.

She calls it a Flinstone-esque mixing of patterns.

But how she pulls it together is to use strong, bold accessories of simple block colour to anchor the two clashing patterns.

In the case of the micro print floral top and polka dot skirt, she used bold blue baubled necklace to anchor down both patterns and it works.

What does Niki have to say about low-crotch pants – and by that I assume she means harem pants? Are they still on trend from last year?

They are. Women in droopy pants will last one more season.

Niki says your harem pants have a present but will have no future. This is the final summer of harem pants.

Niki says wear it shamelessly. And be prepared for comments. Last week she wore them out on the town and women complimented her and men kept on asking her if she had lost a bet.

So, harem pants, drop crotches, what have you are having their last 15 minutes in the sun.

But, I should mention, an easy to do, emerging trend, to look out for is loafers for women.

I’m not talking about oxford lace-ups anymore.

The emerging trend are simple slip-ons. Niki calls them Hugh Hefner shoes. They are simple like slippers not quite elaborate as penny loafers. But simple,traditionally stitched loafers with a plain, pointed toe and small stitches, like Bally loafers from the 70s are the next big thing. So bye-bye to Harem Pants, and look out for Playboy mansion shoes this summer.

Niki Blasina

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