Portland fashion makes cold sholder hot

By Erin Flesh and Karen Vitt,
Portland style, shopping, trends.

Giving someone the cold shoulder just got hot. Dresses, tops and even swimsuits are getting the asymmetrical treatment for Spring 2010 in Portland. More modern than strapless and sexier than a traditional neckline, the one-shoulder silhouette is having a serious fashion moment and local shops are taking notice.

“One-shoulder dresses are classic, but totally fresh and flattering,” said Sarah Bibb, owner of Folly boutique in Northwest Portland, who is a fan of the one-shoulder shape. “They’re like a strapless, but with more security.” 

Bibb makes a good point, because worrying about your clothes staying in place is the last thing you want on a night out. Lucky for us, many of the “one-shoulder” styles we’re seeing now have an extra, thin strap on the mostly bare shoulder for even more added security.

Many local designers are getting in on the international trend, which we first saw on the runways of Portland Fashion Week last fall, when Idom Designs (top), Michelle DeCourcy and Seattle’s Jesica Milton each trotted out one-shoulder styles for Spring 2010. “My spring collection is all about Martha Graham and dance and movement,” said Idom designer Modi Soondaratok. “I wanted to expose more body parts as in dance pieces, which this style does.”

Barbara Seipp, designer of the local line Isaac Hers and owner of Phlox Boutique, also incorporated a number of one-shoulder styles in her new spring collection (right). Seipp’s sexy, body-conscious designs when contrasted with Idom’s glamorous evening dresses really illustrate the broad range and appeal of the look.

It’s inevitable we’ll be shouldering this trend all spring and summer, so we can’t help but ask for a little expert style advice when it comes to baring flesh where a bra strap is supposed to be. Bibb, who has a cute one-shoulder dress by Theme in stock now (go check it out at the Folly anniversary party this Thursday!) suggests going strapless if you can, or getting a great strapless bra.

And how about this: The one-shoudler trend has become so popular that local indie shop Frances May is carrying a perfect Alexander Wang one-shoulder bra ($55). Both a little bit sporty and a little bit chic, the bra is perfectly perfect for keeping everything in place and where it should be, with no straps in sight.

With shoulders peeping all over Portland right now, here are a few of our faves:

Mapel – Local online retailer ShopMapel.com has a few flirty styles by Mahtab Azimi, an indie ready-to-wear designer who is getting much attention of late. We thank Portland designer and Mapel owner Staci Stevens for offering Azimi’s ruffled silk Malina dress (right, $86) in the prettiest navy blue or shimmery silver. It has one of those extra little straps we spoke of, but still fits our one-shoulder needs nicely. www.shopmapel.com

Phlox Boutique – As we mentioned above, the Isaac Hers Spring 2010 Collection by Phlox owner Barbara Seipp is chock full of one-shoulder goodness. We especially love the sexy pink-and-grey Samantha dress (above right, $160), and her ruffled floral Carrie dress from past season, which is on sale for just $150. 3962 N. Mississippi Ave. 503-284-1264. www.phloxpdx.com

Nordstrom –Typing “one-shoulder” into Nordstrom’s search engine is enough to crash your browser. We did the dirty work for you and found more than 100 options from our go-to Northwest designer department stor. Styles range from high-end ball gowns to flirty cocktail dresses and casual, slouchy tops. We love this young, fun Alice + Olivia “Breanna” belted dress ($395) for a night out or this French Connection “Crayon Carousal one-shoulder frock ($158). 701 S.W. Broadway; 503-224-6666. www.nordstrom.com

Meringue Boutique – We always love shopping this on-trend Lake Oswego boutique for its rainbow of current colors and styles, and there’s no shortage of one-shoulder trend evidence in stock right now. We love this tough, rocker inspired Bailey 44 Playing Rough Top (right, $165), which would be so hot with jeans and ankle boots; and the simple ease of this bright blue Michael Stars Shine One-Shoulder Tank ($69). Plus, find more shoulder baring dresses and tops from Splendid, Ella Moss, Black Halo and many more. 385 First St., Lake Oswego; 503-635-1063. www.meringueboutique.com

American Apparel – This hip chain is thinking along the same lines as Idom Designs’ Modi Soondaratok with its dance-inspired one-shoulder pieces. Unleash your inner ballerina with the American Apparel Baby Rib asymmetrical dress that comes in a wide range of colors ($42), or try out the wrap-it-any-way-ya-like Le Sac dress ($38). 1234 S.W. Stark St.; 503- 721-0700. www.americanapparel.net

Idom Designs – As mentioned above, Idom designer Modi Soondaratok was inspired by dance and movement when creating the sophisticated one-shoulder styles currently found in her Northwest Portland boutique. Our favorite offerings are a soft greenish-grey style with a bubble hem (top), and this sexy, asymmetrical cocktail dress in black or purple (right, $184). Idom Designs, 827 N.W. 23rd; 503-477-6818. www.idomdesigns.com

Urban Outfitters – Trend star Urban Outfitters also dives into the one-shoulder look with multiple swimsuit options rocking a single strap. For full coverage grab the Marysia seafoam jade one-piece ($119) or the Insight Vouge one-piece in black ($88). Two-piece lovers can get their hands on the Salinas Animal Print One Shoulder bikini ($78). 2320 N.W. Westover Rd.; 503-248-0020. www.urbanoutfitters.com

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