Style File


January 26, 2003|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,Sun Staff

More than just a holder for lipstick and wallet

Women don't just carry purses. They obsess about them, covert them and collect them. A handbag -- like a great pair of shoes -- is the perfect pick-me-up at any time. A purse is useful and stylish, fun and frivolous. And it's also the subject of two new books.

Handbags: The Power of the Purse by Anna Johnson (Workman, $13.95) is a photo-heavy little book that includes such nuggets of information as how a Hermes Kelly bag is made and a survey of "It" bags through the ages. It's whimsical yet useful, just like a Kate Spade tote.

Another book on the topic, Handbags: A Peek Inside A Woman's Most Trusted Accessory by Barbara G.S. Hagerty (Running Press, $24.95), covers much of the same ground but in a straighter, more serious manner. Detailed with lots of lavish pictures as well as history and surveys of handbag styles and trends, the book treats its subject matter with the reverence befitting a work of art. Think of it as a classic Coach leather shoulder bag: Nice, but not exciting.

Maybe we'd be better off just saving up for that Lulu Guinness we've been pining for instead.

Feminine and faded

Here's what your favorite teen-age hipster is probably wearing this winter, according to popular retailer Delia's:

Stevie Nicks' castoffs: Velvet, lace, satin and brocade are big, as are little prints. Tops and coats are worn close to the body but skirts flow freely for maximum twirlability.

Distressed-o-rama: Weathered, faded velour or French terry sportswear mixed with denim and corduroy. Add a long knit scarf and a pair of patchwork boots and the look -- sort of Sporty Rhoda Spice -- is complete.

Laid-back cool: Comfy fabrics like fleece done up in drawstring sweats and mixed with vintage print T-shirts are comfortable and downright casually cool.

Delia's stores are located at Towson Town Center and Arundel Mills or check out

New shades in a wink

Forget the concept of buying new cosmetics to go with the season's new colors. Smashbox's spring line of makeup is designed to give a facelift to what you bought for fall.

Here's how it works: Layer any of the company's Eye Illusion shades ($32 for four) or Lip Illusion stains ($26) over a dark fall or winter eye color or lipstick and --voila -- total transformation. Evergreen eye shadow becomes apple green. Somber dark red becomes sassy pink.

Available at Nordstrom, and Sephora.

Putting on a put-on pelt

The denim jacket, though classic, looks totally fresh when updated with a faux-fur collar. All of a sudden that closet basic becomes urban and contemporary, not to mention utterly essential.

We've seen all different kinds of versions of this jacket -- from faux-mink-lined to Sherpa, sized for men, women and kids. One of the most stylish and practical is by mavi jeans. The jacket, available in men's and women's sizes, has a detachable fur collar so that it can be worn year-round. Very practical.

About $100 at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. for more information.

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