Decoding Claire Underwood power wardrobe in House Of Cards

House of Cards is back. We repeat back! The fourth season of the sitcom, celebrated for its dirty politics and loaded dialogue, is about to hit Netflix. Fans are expecting answers to the big question: will Claire really walk away from President Francis Underwood? And, if so, what (immaculate and stylish) shoes will the First Lady be wearing as she does so?

Stylist Kemal Harris, who took over styling Claire Underwood last season, has posted a picture of the moodboard that has inspired her new season costumes. Featuring photographer Lee Miller’s portraits and the Dior archive shots, we can surmise that Claire’s wardrobe will follow the same ‘timeless, decisive and feminine’ mantra her stylists have carefully created across three season.

Tom Broecker was Underwood’s first costume designer – winning two nominations at the 2013 Costume Designers Guild Awards for his work creating the ultimate on-screen power wardrobe.  “With her character we really wanted to have this armoured, tailored, right, nothing out of place feel,” he’s previously told Elle of working on House of Cards set.

The result was a host of outfits from Prada, L’Wren Scott, Armani and Theory that looked polished and barely veered from a simple palette of black, grey and white.

Harris kept the same aesthetic last season but introduced some new designers to the First Lady’s White House wardrobe.  Alexander McQueen, Altuzurra and Proenza Schouler were featured on screen and Harris also custom made clothes for actress Robin Wright to wear – some of which seemly inspired real life First Lady Michelle Obama.

So what secrets can we learn about dressing for the job you want from the ultimate ice queen in Manolo shoes Claire Underwood? Here’s four tips to take away:

Top tailoring

Thanks to a quality seamstress, Underwood’s clothes fit her like a glove. Harris has previously revealed that almost every piece is altered to suit Wright’s shape, but that fittings are done on a mannequin (an exact replica of Wright) to save the actress countless hours of pinning and tucking.

Made-to-measure services might seem like a costly habit to get into, but focus on tailoring to get the best results. A blazer that hugs your shoulders rather than swamps them is a powerful garment to own.

Minimal accessories

Claire’s careful edit of accessories – a Cartier watch and Saint Laurent Sac du Jour – spell out power. They are considered, practical and, most importantly, timeless. Even her spectacles – medium tortoiseshell rims – toe the line between functional and fashionable. Frivolous is not a word that can be associated with the First Lady.

No ‘off-duty’ looks

Would Claire be seen dead in denim? What do you think? The closest Underwood gets to ‘off-duty’ is her slick black running gear and a pair of silk pyjamas for the bedroom. If you want to emulate power, you have to be committed to a seriously slick silhouette. Harris has previously referenced Lauren Bacall and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy as her costume muses for Claire, and both women read from the same classic book of fashion.

Zero pattern

Underwood’s wardrobe riffs off a strictly clean colour scheme. Think block coloured garments in beige, grey, navy, black and burgundy. This might seem safe, but feminine prints risk looking fussy next to her suit-clad male counterparts.

Carefully considered necklines

Note the neckline on Underwood’s dresses. With her cropped hair cut, the scooped neckline always reveals enough of her honey-coloured skin to look tantalising, but not sexy. This truly is an art. We advise steering clear of push-up bras to achieve the same aesthetic. Designers known for their classic workwear – Ralph Lauren, Derek Lam, Jason Wu – are also a safe bet, as they will stick to the demure lines they are famed for.

Fall for fashion

You don’t want to think about it and neither do I: the end of summer. Bummer.

However, there are some people — fashion experts, for instance — who actually enjoy thinking about fall and the things they (or we) can buy to stay in style for the new season.

I know it won’t ease the pain of the end of vacation, packing up the flip-flops or going back to school or the office, but at least distract yourself by fantasizing over additions to your closet.

To get you started, I asked five trend watchers to tell me their three top wardrobe musts for fall.

Gregg Andrews
Nordstrom fashion creative director

  • Something in a luxe fabric like lace or a brocade (Ellen says: If a lace dress, top or skirt isn’t your style, consider a scarf, a clutch or even a lace-look cellphone cover — Marc Jacobs for iPhone 5, $38,
  • Knee-high boots: “With a mid to high heel. She’s going to be able to do so much with that. In black. Or a flat equestrian boot, like a riding boot.”
  • Colorful coat: “They’re so beautiful. Swing coats. Lots of color in coats! They’re great things that women can actually wear over and over. It goes with everything.”

Kathryn Finney
Television commentator, style and shopping blogger,

  • Red pumps: “Think Dorothy and ruby red slippers.”
  • Black leather (or pleather) pencil skirt: “It’s become the new basic black skirt.”
  • Skinny leather or stretch faux leather pants

Susan Swimmer
More magazine contributing fashion features editor

  • Something in cobalt: “Cobalt blue is the color of the season. I like a cobalt Michael Kors bag I saw on.” (Ellen says: The Kors bag is pricey; the one shown here is my frugal find.)
  • A great coat: “It’s the season of coats. Lots of menswear fabrics and menswear tailoring. Many are not lined. They hit a little below the knee. Wear it over jeans, wear it over a black dress.”
  • Ankle boots: “black and pointy toed and a chunkier heel. No hardware.”

Sofia Wacksman
Kohl’s vice president for trend

  • Pullover sweater: “Patterned or intarsia”
  • The perfect black pant: “We love the new classics. Essential pieces that every woman needs. …The perfect building blocks for your wardrobe.”
  • Motorcycle jacket: “The new classic topper”

Annie Georgia Greenberg
New York Editor

  • Houndstooth or plaid trousers: “These patterns are popping up all over the place this year.”
  • Boxy, masculine coat: “They’re super comfortable and actually warm. I’d like one extra big and extra long — preferably navy, preferably wool.”
  • Ladylike bag: “Sporting a dainty handbag with oversized clothing femmes up an otherwise edgy look.”

hourglass chic feted at Paris fashion museum

When Christian Dior introduced his debut haute couture collection in February 1947, the meters of fabric spilling over the models’ hips in swirls of fine wool, silk and tulle were nothing short of a fashion revolution.

His emblematic creations ushered in “the most luxurious and radiant” decade in women’s fashion, according to Olivier Saillard, director of the Palais Galliera fashion museum, which presents “The 50s – Fashion in France, 1947-1957” beginning on Saturday in Paris.

Drawing on the museum’s extensive archive of garments and accessories, the exposition stars not only Dior but also such greats as Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy. Along with them are less familiar though no less important names like Jacques Fath and Jacques Heim.

“This was haute couture’s golden age, when Paris regained its title of world fashion capital,” said Saillard, who on Wednesday night – during haute couture fashion week in Paris – gathered the couturiers of today for a gala dinner and advance peek at the show.

Dresses for cocktail hours, balls, lazy summer afternoons – even gloves, hats, brassieres and swimsuits – all make an elegant appearance under the ornate ceiling of the Palais Galliera, a 19th century mansion originally built to house the art collection of a duchess but which since 1977 has been the city’s fashion museum.

Reams of fabric and expert structure are visible in Dior’s white and black day suit that opens the show, in which interior boning and padding create the corseted and shapely silhouette.

An exquisite Carven day suit in beige wool features a bodice of horsehair braiding that emphasizes the cinched look.

Delightful are the full embroidered wool felt skirts in electric fuchsia, blue and purple by the Boutique of Jeanne Lanvin-Castillo – a chic precursor to the poodle skirt of 1950s Americana.

The enigmatic Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga, who set up shop in Paris in 1937, features prominently, his sober designs from the early part of the decade morphing into a fuchsia taffeta “Baby Doll” dress from 1958, a radical look that foreshadows the simpler looks of the following ten years.

One of the most breath-taking looks is by a designer more renowned for her elegant draping designs in the 1930s and ’40s.

Madame Gres found herself overshadowed in the era of Dior’s “New Look” with its focus on volume, but a silk velvet evening gown in hues of beige and wild rose draping down the hip through a series of delicate pleats is equal to any of its fuller-skirted rivals.

One of those is a Pierre Balmain stunner worthy of the most sumptuous of balls, its bustier and full skirt embroidered with gold metal thread and red silk roses in an ultra-feminine nod to the 18th century.

The Palais Galliera has also liberated from its closet one of its most precious items – a 1952 silk gown worn and donated by Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.

The pale blue grey silk of the “Palmyre” cocktail dress is decorated with sequins, crystals and embroidered with twisting vines and flowers.

Saillard said he hopes young creators will see the show and take inspiration from the 1950s, as designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Dior’s former creative director John Galliano did after the era was all but forgotten in the ’60s and ’70.

“You usually need 20 years to appreciate an earlier era,” Saillard said. “It’s never the women who wore ’50s fashion who wants to wear it again – it’s their grand-daughters.”

Detail of the day the preppy jumper trick

Natasha Goldenberg has been adding a somewhat humble flourish to her Milan Fashion Week outfits: a jumper slung across her shoulders.

Radical, we know. The preppy twist, commonly associated with Sloane Rangers and the school uniform of old Etonians, has found itself carefully positioned on head-to-toe Prada.

When the look already comprises a matching checked skirt and jacket there really was no need for the added knitted layer. But look at the prim, school-girlish flourish the tomato red layer gives!

Fast forward to the final day of Milan Fashion Week, and a grey cable knit crew-neck sat neatly next to her moss green coat. A quick glance and this look might seem to give off an ‘off-duty weekend’ air, but, in fact, the jumper played the perfect preppy foil to a pair of £800 Vetements jeans. The jeans that the editors self-prescribed as their AW16 show uniform.

While fellow editors Miroslava Duma and Veronika Heilbrunner have been wearing their denim with simple t-shirts, the Russian editor set herself apart from the pack, by riffing off the wardrobe of a Hampshire Mum.We’re not dictating that you invest in extra woollen sweaters. But, should you need a little extra outfit oomph when heading out for brunch this weekend, why not grab a knit and give it a go

Fashion Art and Gloria Vanderbilt

Well, fashion happens to be the biggest item in what we laughingly call “the civilized world” right now and it is the second-biggest business in New York City — bigger than philanthropy, theater, culture, skyscrapers — everything.

Fashion was happening last week at the New York Design Center where everybody went to see Gloria Vanderbilt’s beautiful art works. (I did love this show and it runs until Oct. 24 at 200 Lexington Avenue.) One of the works of art at this happening was Gloria herself, looking in her 80s better even than she looked in her 50s, 60s and 70s.

She was fabulous, kissing Diane von Furstenberg, who was murmuring of the beautiful collages: “I must have one of these.”

I won’t bother to list the many “somebodies” who attended, but my favorite of all was the designer Adolfo who used to make clothes for the likes of Nancy Reagan. He and I like to trade interesting, offbeat books usually seen only in the U.K.

I also enjoyed seeing Sam Peabody of the famous Massachusetts/N.Y. families, who put on a brown fedora when he left. He is the rare man who still wears a hat in the fall and winter.

Stayed up late two nights reading Lee Woodruff’s debut novel “Those We Love Most” and couldn’t decide if I liked it more than the party Mary and David Boies gave last week for Woodruff in their Sherry Netherlands view-to-end-all-views apartment.

Lee is the steadfast wife of ABC News’ Bob Woodruff; the man who was almost killed by an IED while covering Iraq in 2006. (He is recovered but wasn’t at the party because he was off in Asia with the royals, William and Kate. That part of his job could be dangerous too!)

This high-in-the-sky, high finance, high-powered get-together boasted Christiane Amanpour, Brian Williams, Charlie Rose, Joel Klein, Jeff Fager, Veronique and Bob Pittman, Jim Haas, Louise Grunwald, Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, Sherrie Westin, Erica Jong, Kenneth Burrows, Joe Armstrong, Jim and Toni Goodale and many more I didn’t see. So, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Phoenix House, the Council on Foreign Relations, The New York Times, “Sesame Street” and publishing were well represented. The author said she felt tongue-tied with so many good writers in the room.

As a P.S. I’ll say I liked the novel best! It is so heart-wrenchingly real and emotional. The author has given us a family to hold as our own, with all the agony and ecstasy of joy, sorrow, sudden death, alcohol use, intimacy, in-laws, infidelity, sibling rivalry, guilt, illness — you know, the wonders that modern life inflict. Somehow Lee makes us care about this family, a group that keeps surprising, blaming and forgiving themselves.

I couldn’t put it down. This fiction is certainly on a par with Lee’s last book about her husband, a best seller titled “In an Instant.”

If you spend a couple of nights with the Corrigans, you won’t ever forget them!

Let me say a word here about Lee’s hosts, two lawyers who are heroic figures to those dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. David Boies has been called “a latter-day Clarence Darrow.” It is not possible to do these two justice in a mere column; so I’ll just comment on their joyousness, conversation and conviviality.

When I came into their apartment I was blown away by many charming, humorous works of art. I was amazed to see two chairs separated by a long table. On the left chair, painted on the back were a tan dachshund’s hindquarters; on the other chair, the half that eats.

I was struck by this because although I am not a dog owner, I had bid farewell that very morning to one of the rare world-champion dachshunds in the history of Westminster. Ch. Dachsmith Love’s Diomedes won everything possible in the smooth-haired category. He was tan himself, 16 years old and retired and he seemed to be saying so long with these painted chairs.

Sorry to seem so sentimental now, but I see that “World News Tonight” is giving us animal news each evening in order to end on “an upbeat” and the Daily News tabloid now has a critter corner. Animals are all the rage!

I suppose that’s because we have always, since the beginning of time, been so careless and cruel to them.

IT’S HAPPENING tomorrow but it’s by invitation only.

The wonderful songwriter Marvin Hamlisch will be memorialized at Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Scholarships will be announced in Marvin’s name; he died all too soon.

Such famous souls as Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Michael Feinstein, trumpeter Chris Botti, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Lang Lang will do their best for Marvin!

P.S. This will be the first time that Barbra, Liza and Aretha have performed at the same event. I am sure Marvin — up there in musical heaven — is thrilled by the historical significance of such a diva-happening. Well, just writing about it, I’M somewhat faint!

Diamonds Are A Gift For Any Occasion

Glamira is an international jewelry leader that strives for perfection in the art of gift-giving. This isn’t your typical jewelry store selection – Glamira offers you the opportunity to custom design pieces so that you can give a truly one-of-a-kind gift for that one exceptional person in your life.

With Glamira, you have the ability to create custom pieces that allow you to tell your own story. From rings to necklaces to earrings, Glamira allows you to design pieces that will be worn and enjoyed for years to come.

The Beauty of Diamonds

Diamonds are valued high above other gemstones for their beauty and brilliance. White diamonds, with their shine and sparkle, are the most common choice, although there are other fancy diamonds that are being chosen as well these days. Glamira offers a variety of diamond choices, as well as other gemstones that you can put with the diamonds to design a piece that fits the personal style of the wearer, no matter what metal or design they like.

When choosing diamonds, you depend upon the 4 Cs – cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.

  • Cut – The cut of the diamond is normally thought of as the shape, such as princess, round, marquise, emerald, etc., but the cut is actually what gives the diamond its shine and sparkle. This cut is a measure of the diamond’s light performance or brilliance. The more sparkle, the more value.
  • Clarity – A diamond is a natural material and most have some imperfections, even if they are very tiny. These tiny imperfections inside, called inclusions, determine the grade of the diamond. The fewer inclusions and blemishes, the higher the grade.
  • Color – The color of a diamond can be graded from D, which is the highest level (no color at all) to Z (which is the highest level of color). The less color a diamond has, the higher its value.
  • Carat weight – The carat weight of the diamond is what many people are most concerned about. When a diamond is under a carat, it is measured in points, but over a carat, it is measured in carats and decimals.

The Symbolism of Diamonds

Diamonds are a beautiful and rare gemstone that has a great deal of symbolism. From purity and innocence to love and fidelity, diamonds are a love-bearing crystal. The giving of a diamond embraces strength of character, ethics, and faithfulness to yourself and others. Diamonds are known for their use in engagement rings, wedding rings, and other jewelry to symbolize love and devotion, but they are also a great choice for other piece of jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and more for gifts.

Gift Giving with Diamonds

Glamira offers a wide range of jewelry for you to choose for both men and women in rings and other pieces of jewelry. From teenagers to the elderly, no matter how young or old, diamonds never go out of style. Some occasions where diamonds are sure to be a great choice include:

  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Quinceañera
  • Bar or Bat Mitzvah
  • Milestone birthdays
  • Graduations
  • Christmas and holiday gifts
  • Anniversary gifts

Diamond Rings

Diamond rings are much more than engagement and wedding rings. Don’t think of these as simple – there are so many to choose from. From the Esme to the Caitlin to the Irina and more, a fashion ring that is full of shine and brilliance is a great addition to your right hand to complement your wedding or engagement ring. Glamira allows you to choose your own metals as well so that you can customize it to your own wants or desires.

Diamond Earrings

From small solitaires to large diamond drop earrings, the choices in diamond earrings are many. Whether you are buying diamond earrings for a significant other or a family member, you can create a pair of earrings that will make them feel special and beautiful. Choose your metal and diamonds to make them into the one piece that you want to give. You can also combine the diamonds with other stones to make them even more unique and to their taste.

Diamond Necklaces

Another great choice for nearly anyone is a diamond necklace. Glamira offers varied styles and various metal choices to allow you to create that one-of-a-kind piece that you are looking for. From the contemporary design of the Azura to the more traditional design of the Maria solitaire and everything in between, there is a choice for everyone from Glamira. Find a design and then customize it with your choice of metal and additional stones to make it distinctive to you.

Diamond jewelry makes a great gift for almost any occasion and person in your life. Diamond jewelry is something that will be greatly appreciated and worn for years to come. Choose Glamira for your divine gift today.

Leave shoulder pads to football field

Dear Mary Anne E.: Shoulder pads are out of fashion right now. They’ll be back. Everything comes back. (Platform shoes, maxi dresses, demure lady purses to name but three.) However, at this fashion moment, you’ll want to lose the pads. “Yank those bad boys out. Then insert them into your bra for a little boost,” advised fashion expert Susan Swimmer, who was only half kidding. “Reuse, recycle.” Swimmer, contributing fashion features editor for More magazine and my go-to resource when it comes to practical advice on what to wear, said you occasionally still find garments with shoulder pads in stores (mostly in structured jackets). But she says to remove the pads when you get your jacket home. As for the shirttail issue, both curved and straight are fine. But, either way, you do not want it to hit mid-butt since that’s the widest part of most women and an area that most of us would prefer not to call to anybody’s attention. A great alternative and more forgiving over pants is a tunic (curved or straight hem) that’s fingertip length.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I understand that the new iPhone is going to be larger than the current 5s phones. This will mean that it won’t fit in the interior pouches on purses designed to hold cell phones. Is there an expandable pouch that you can attach to the inside of a purse?

— Fumbling for my phone

Dear Fumbling: You mean you don’t walk around with your phone in your hand, checking it every four seconds, especially when walking across a busy street or driving at breakneck speeds? You actually tuck the thing in your purse and only look at it once in a while? Well, good for you! What you’re looking for is a wristlet. It’s a little zipper bag with a small strap that — guess what — you can put around your wrist. But it definitely can serve as an in-your-purse phone pouch, and you can attach the wrist strap to your larger purse strap. Charming Charlie ( has a variety of them starting at only $10, and you can find others at virtually any store that carries purses and accessories. Just check the measurements to make sure it will accommodate a phone a little bit larger than the one you have.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you have recommendations for cotton casual T-shirts? I have tried many different brands, and they look good for just a few washings and then they lose shape and creep up my belly. The ones available today are of much worse quality than even a few years ago. Can you recommend something that lasts longer than half a season?

Dear Dale: Does it have to be all cotton? I’m wild about the AIRism short-sleeve Ts from, which I wear almost every day in spring and summer. Here’s the description from the website: “Smooth microfiber dries quickly and deodorizes.” And they’re only $12.90. The site also has all-cotton Ts for the same price, but I haven’t tested them. My colleague Barbara Brotman is very satisfied with her 100 percent cotton Faded Glory short-sleeve crew-neck T-shirts from Wal-Mart ( which held up in the dryer. At $4.94 you sure can’t beat the price.

Angelic Readers

Scores of thoughtful readers responded to Colleen’s plea for suggestions on what to do with all the barely used hair products she’d tried but didn’t like. The most votes went to donating them to a women’s or homeless shelter, nursing home, food pantry or charity, and that goes for toiletries from hotel rooms too. Many readers suggested Others said to give them away at the neighborhood garage/rummage sale. D.H. wrote, “My favorite idea is to return products you don’t like as soon as you buy them and discover they don’t work for you. I, too, have had this closet full of products I didn’t like/didn’t work (mostly for taming of curly hair), and realized I was tired of wasting that money. Most stores will take returns now even on an opened product — just don’t abuse their generosity by returning 10 items every week and all is well.” And Glory B. included links to sites that offer creative uses for leftover shampoo ( and conditioner