Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Ankle socks+open toes and BROWS

Ankle socks with open-toe sandals or wedge shoes: can I still wear the look this season or will I be out-of-date? -Antonia



Dear Antonia:

I said it before and I’ll say it forever: Do not get hung up on whether or not a trend is “over” if you really love the look (and feel) of it. You also must remember that there are precious few looks and notions that are truly “new” in fashion. Most of the ideas we see are inspired by or reference ideas that have already come before. And certainly, wearing ankle socks open toed shoes is something that’s been around for a long, long time. I remember the innovative and ultra chic Norma Kamali was among the first to re-introduce that ‘40s look back in ‘80s. It certainly looked edgy, especially when worn with a mid-calf pencil skirt. Of course, it can also look very flirty and school-girlish to pair pretty socks with strappy sandals when wearing a short little skirt or dress. I remember back in the early ‘80s, having a TV exec boss tell me that my little mauve ankle socks might be okay to wear when interviewing pop stars, but I’d never earn any credibility as a journalist if I wore them anywhere else! Of course, I pooh-poohed his opinion, and stuck to my little socks, proudly sporting them with open-toed burgundy heels. I thought it was a great look! Of course, some people totally cringe at the thought of socks and open-toes shoes, and certainly the look isn’t for everybody. But if you love it, why worry about whether the trend is in or out? Fashion simply doesn’t operate like that anymore—at least not when it comes to unique personal style.


Prada, Alexander Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Derek Lam are just three of the international runways that have given the socks-and-open-toes look a nod in the past. And there are lots of fun ways to wear ankle socks, and lots of fun ankle socks to choose from. If you don’t want to make too stark a statement, you might just want to go for socks in a neutral colour, and team them with neutral shoes so your feet don’t stand out too much. But especially for this season, with colour being so welcomed, I’d look around for some brightly coloured ankle socks to make your feet really pop, and team those socks with a colourful sandal or wedge shoe in a contrasting colour. There are also some very pretty lacey and textured socks that would be perfect for a more feminine, retro feel.

Of course, last year, we saw the notion of thick sweat-socks being teamed with flat sandals. Again, to each his own, but that particular old hippie look was definitely not my cup of tea. Still, never say never I suppose. I think it’s always great to have ankle socks on hand in case you’ve been slow getting to your pedicure, but still want to wear open-toed shoes. But don’t fall back on them too often: Pretty toes are a must all summer long, socks or no socks! Oh, and I’d also like to note that I approve of the socks-and-open-toe trend for women only. I’ve still never gotten used to the look for guys, and actually consider it a real faux pas. We women can get away with so much more though, at least in the wardrobe department. Just continue to march to the beat of your own drum, in whatever footwear you fancy.




Bold brows are back. How can I get perfect arches without going overboard?

Should I let them grow wild? –Natalia


Dear Natalia:

You’re right! Not since 14 year-old Brooke Shields first wowed us with her big, bushy brows on the cover of American Vogue back in 1980, has there been such a focus on brows. They serve as a sort of frame, and sometimes, it seems that we don’t pay enough attention to how powerful they can be in balancing our faces and really giving our look more punch. I have to confess, I rarely leave home without my lips and brows in tact. I feel washed out without either of them. But having your brows the right shape, especially when this season, the bold brow is back again, is imperative. I’m certainly not for just letting them grow “wild”—that tends to look a bit un-groomed, and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for. I highly suggest that you visit a professional beautician who specializes in brows to first get them into the shape that’s right for you. I personally go to Natalie Gee at Gee Beauty on a regular basis. She’s got an amazing esthetic and threads my brows. Waxing apparently isn’t that good for you, as it pulls your skin. And while we can all tweeze away ourselves, it’s awfully hard to do a good job shaping your brows yourself. I reserve my tweezers just for maintenance.


Before we get to how to make your brows stronger, make sure they’re the right shape to begin with. The best rule of thumb is ensuring that your brow starts in line with the outer corner of your nose. The arch should be in the middle of the eye. And the outer tip of your brown should extent to the outer corner of your eye. If you’ve been blessed with heavy brows to begin with, you may not have to use much product on them once you’ve cleaned them up. A little brow gel can help add some sheen to them, and once they’re brushed, that should keep them neat. If your brows a little sparse, you’ll want to fill them in with either a pencil, or powder. I use a couple of different products: Le Sourcil de Chanel, which is a compact featuring three different shades of brown powder (since I’m a brunette), a tiny pair of tweezers, and a couple of great little brushes; and I’ve also recently discovered a fab “Dior Show” Brow Styler pencil, that’s very precise. You can make your brows as full and as dark as you like depending on how many fine little strokes of this pencil you choose to make. It makes for a very natural look. Once you’ve got the desired shape, you can use a highlight pencil used directly under the brow, to really give your brow a lift.


Both Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu played with bolder brows on their spring runways, but unquestionably, you can get away with more highly dramatic statements in a catwalk context than you can on the street. Yes, the attitude is bold, but I wouldn’t go overboard. After all, no one wants to be compared to Groucho Marx! And for those of you who’ve plucked a little too much along the way, you might try some of the brow growth serums that are out there: Prevage Lash and Brown Enhancing Serum by Elizabeth Arden is clinically proven to improve brow growth in just a couple of weeks; and Latisse, a prescription drug which could have side effects, offers lash and brow growth, as does Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Enhancing Serum, developed by brow guru Anastasia Soare. Then there are those who go the tattoo route to obtain a strong brow look. I’d only do that as a last resort. After all, just because it’s all about a bold brow now, next season, they could disappear altogether. After all, in fashion, the only constant is change.