Baby, it's gold inside
Add shiny yellow and its cousins to your red and green this season. They're the luxe metal, the cachet colors for fashion.
Gold has moved beyond deck-the-halls festive into the glitzy realm of must-have fashion.
It's the season for gleaming flecks to sparkle on fluttering eyelids and glisten on mistletoe-ready lips. A bronzy link chain, instead of a ribbon, on tuxedo-style trousers is happy-hour sultry. And shimmering, silky pantsuits are both retro and relevant.
Once civilization's most sought-after metal, gold shines brightest this year in classic yellow. But copper and rose blends, especially on sequined blouses, are trending chic, too.
Unlike in decades past, however, the granddaddy of precious metals no longer feels arrogant or garish. Instead, when it's fashioned into a quilted clutch, it reminds us of found treasures in our grandma's trunk. It tempts us to live on the luxe side as a floor-length party dress. And worn as a high-gloss nail polish, it taps into our girl-on-the-town persona.
"Gold is everywhere - in clothing, as paillettes on skirts and threading in suits," said Maureen Doron, owner of Skirt, a Bryn Mawr boutique. "It's such a shift from where we were 10 years ago."
Talk to any boutique owner about how this yuletide is so luminous, and they will chuckle; not too long ago, gold was a big fashion no-no. The most popular accessories and metallic clothing were almost always platinum, until this year.
"Gold was kitschy," said Joan Shepp, owner of the Center City boutique that bears her name. "I could never sell it . . .. It just wasn't what people wanted."
About six years ago, while still in the middle of a platinum era, the jewelry industry began touting gold as if it were brand new, not a precious metal that stemmed back to the days of the ancient Egyptians.
It didn't matter that the price was still high - averaging more than $1,500 an ounce - jewelers were tired of fitting vibrant emeralds, rubies, and amethysts into platinum.
"Gold is the benchmark for fine jewelry products," said Harvey Rovinsky, president of Bernie Robbins Jewelers, with four locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "It was unnatural to move away from it, but it was necessary in a weak economy."
Jewelers eased customers in slowly, suggesting to those who lacked gold savvy - we're talking mostly millennials here - that they work rose-gold into their jewelry repertoire.
Still, momentum was slow to build.
In 2011 - when gold was at its highest, more than $1,895 an ounce - Kim Kardashian launched her women's fragrance, Gold. Beyoncé started wearing gold, it seemed, everywhere. Our social media networks featured throwback photos, and in them, auriferous hat pins and cuff links communicated a refined sense of style.
The price of gold started dropping (last month it hit its lowest at $1,140 an ounce), and then the silver studs on Maison Martin Margiela wedge sneakers bronzed up; the zippers on Stella McCartney faux leather moto jackets took on a yellowish tinge; the silver sheen on Tory Burch skirts became tawny.
"Dries Van Noten put gold in his shoes and Phillip Lim added it, too," Shepp said. "Moschino started doing gold accessories. All of a sudden, gold became so much fun."
In their fall 2014 runway collections - which also includes holiday - more mainstream designers, including Michael Kors, Tracy Reese, and Tory Burch, featured gold on pocketbooks, coat hardware, and of course, evening wear.
During the 2014 red carpet season, Cate Blanchett wowed in a nude-gold Armani Prive, as did Angelina Jolie in a similar-hued strapless Elie Saab. At this year's American Music Awards and Grammys, Rita Ora stunned in body-skimming gold frocks.
Officially, gold was back.
Whether it's a gold-plated accessory or a solid gold ensemble, Susan Ahn, owner of Wayne boutique Eaves, suggests that women mix metals. Pewter, bronze, yellow gold, and white gold can all live on the same holiday outfit. "People are going for a vintage, art deco-inspired look," Ahn told me while standing in front of a mannequin dressed in a Parker metallic tunic and distressed jeans. Among the selection of costume jewelry Ahn is carrying this year in her store - more than ever, she adds - a pair of shiny gold and ruby drop earrings would complement this look just as easily as a pair of squarish studs with a rosier tone.
"The brassier golds are rugged, and the yellow golds are feminine, and so when you mix textures, you get a look that's very modern," Ahn said.
Adding chunky gold accessories - think a beaded necklace, brooch, or studded earrings - to a black, navy, or forest-green pantsuit or sheath is the most foolproof way to wear gold this season. The brightness adds a dash of cheer to the season's otherwise monochromatic color palette. It should be noted this season's palette is moving away from cranberry and crimson, except on lips, of course.
And gold, as a trim or shimmer, gives of-the-moment winter pastels and florals a dose of sophistication. Nude hues never popped so much.
As we continue on fashion's throwback journey to all things edgy and moto, gold warms up the hard-core silver decor, too.
Welcome to the new gilded age.