The POWER OF ADORNMENT introduces a new series we call the LOOK BOOK STYLE FILE

We will take a certain style & look and show you how we interpret it.

We will give you style tips to show how we created it and suggestions on how you can too!

Then we ask YOU to send in photos with your take on it!

Our first look  is TRIBAL – taking authentic ethnic tribal clothing and mixing it with other things in our closet for a modern expression.

Here is how we see it in several variations! Now send us YOURS and tell us how you made it work!!

(our next look w ill be ROMANTIC for you tender hearted fashionistas – ruffles and lace, oh my! – coming in 2-3 weeks,  then several new ones after that)


For my first one I chose an authentic Turkmen caftan I bought from collector, Cheri Hunter, the program chair of Textile Museum Associates of Southern California.  I put it over classic black top and leggings.  Then I added one of my hat designs made from Uzbeki suzani and tassels to carry out the Central Asia theme.  The Kuna Prints boots are made from molas (made by the Kuna Indians on San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama) They coordinate color wise and are also tribal.  The jewelry is a Turkmen and carnelian necklace made by Gretchen with carries out the Turkmen theme and a Tibetan Coral necklace by Amy Khan Russell which repeats the color scheme.  Also Moroccan bracelets, Afghani ring, turquoise rings by Tzipora Hoynik and earrings by Gail Goldin.  All the jewelry has antiqued silver mixed with color.  Finally the eyeglasses LA Eyeworks add one more touch of red.

So using the principals of color harmony and repeated theme as well as proportion of a long coat with a lace-up boot make this a successful look.

Turkmen coat

The second variation is a little more feminine by incorporating an authentic silk ikat Uzbeki caftan, bought from Sheila Ellis of Samarkand in Santa Fe, over an embroidered silk chiffon dress by Bila from the 80’s.  Also embroidered suzani boots from Turkey in the same burgundy color of the dress and caftan.  The hat is also made in Central Asia – felted wool and silk by 7 Sisters from Kyrgystan bought at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market.  Earrings by Sally Bass, necklace by Gretchen Schields (we collaborated on the design based on an authentic Berber necklace) and a Moroccan leather and coin belt bought at Tienda Ho and turquoise Navajo ring and Afghani ring complete the look.  LA Eyeworks glasses frames to go with the burgundy color scheme.

So by repeating the colors and the theme and again the proportion of long length with lace up heeled boots makes the look work.

Ikat Caftan

The final tribal look is an authentic Pakistani tribal dress of cotton embroidery with metal embellishment bought from a collector member of the same textile group mentioned before.  I am wearing it over black leggings and with my Justin snakeskin and leather boots I bought in Texas in the 80’s.  The black and red color scheme is repeated here.  For drama and contrast I added a Navajo Squash Blossom silver and turquoise necklace bought on ebay coordinated with my turquoise color Sally Bass earrings and turquoise and silver ring .  The scarf tied around my head is an Indian silk black and metallic silver borrowed from Gretchen repeating the black and silver of the dress.

Again, repeating similar colors, adding a contrast color for drama and proportionally pairing a mid calf length drew with tall boots and mixing different tribes – Pakistani & Navajo makes the statement I want.

Affghani Dress




You can create the Tribal look wearing things you may already own.  Start with a simple white shirt – I am wearing a slightly fitted white shirt by Kenneth Cole –  and a big scarf, tied like a sarong-style skirt.  To do this, take your scarf, put yourself in the middle of it and pull it lengthwise around your bottom. Grab the ends of the fabric to fit across your rear.  Now holding those folds of fabric, (not just the ends of the scarf, but a gathered handful, including the ends,) tie a knot.  With a little pulling and adjusting you can create a wonderful, graceful skirt.  Here, I am wearing an antique ikat silk weaving from Edric One, a designer who promotes Indonesian arts and handicrafts. Underneath, Danskin black leggings and tall boots. My boots are over 30 years old, treasured footwear bought at the original I Magnin store in San Franciso.  Add lots of big jewelry like you see on my Gallery page on this website – I am wearing 3 neckalces, big earrings, lots of bracelets & rings – the more the better!  I have on an Indian silver silver disk necklace, a Tibetan necklace inlaid with coral and turquoise ( from my favorite trader, Tibetan Arts) and an antique Chinese tobacco pouch that I’ve hung on a long thick silver chain.  The big round earrings come from a secret little African shop in NYC we discovered tucked behind an antique shop,   a truly serendipitous discovery!   Just be sure your jewelry is large and as ethnic as you can find and now you have created a simple Tribal look

The sarong with its burgundy tones echos the coral in the Tibetan necklace, as well as the warm cordovan leather of the boots.  Adding CONTRAST FOR DRAMA, The bright white shirt is the basic contrast for the colors of the outfit.  Try wearing a lacy black camisole under the shirt and unbuttoning it a bit for extra, sexy contrast!

I am a stickler about PROPORTION.  For those of you who know the proportions of the Golden Mean and without getting into the square root of 5 divided by…etc. it is approximately 1/3 to 2/3 .  You will recognize this in my upcoming outfits.  It is a good rule to follow. Here, I’ve used a hem length sarong scarf, and with the brown boots, and that color block is about 2/3 the length of the white shirt. This shows a small top of the boots and no one area of the outfit is overwhelming.





If you already have a fabulous ethnic garment like this Turkmen Coat from one of my Afghani traveling dealers – or a beautiful Japanese Kimono, a Chinese Dragon Robe or an African djellaba, then you are pretty much home free!

Accent your beautiful garment by un-accenting it: present yourself as a blank canvas to show off the drama.  Plain all-over black is the most useful: a plain black T shirt or turtleneck, black leggings – here, my trusty Danskin  brand, and black boots.  You can experiment with the length of the boots, but to highlight the ethnic coat or garment you are wearing, keep them the same color as you leggings.

COLOR HARMONY is provided by the amber necklaces  from my personal collection.  The short one is my own design with its silver Yemeni beads; the others filtered into my hands from Russia, Grandma, thrift shops and my African importer from Mali. With plain black as the background-underground, anything you wear on top sets your color basoc.  Here, the cool green-greys of the Turkman coat with its stamped silver and Turkman medallions, metal fringe and overall cool tones is set off best with the warm tones of the amber necklaces.  Balanced areas of warm and cool tones create the contrast for this simple outfit, and provide CONTRAST FOR DRAMA.

PROPORTION: Once again, I mention the Golden Mean (1/3 to 2/3) with the long length of the coat being about 2/3 the length of the whole body, the black boots being about 1/3 the length of the coat.  And the amber necklaces are about 1/3 the length of the coat.  Seeing these proportions in successful outfits becomes easier the more you look for it and try it yourself and it soon becomes second nature because indeed, these proportions are a Naturally occurring constant.   Ultimately, Golden Mean proportions are arrangements that are appealing to the eye:  the Parthenon, the Pyramids, the great art of the Renaissance and you, when you get the hang of it!  There are some informational links about this proportion if you care to Google it.  One site will give you more information than you want (they all do) is

A COORDINATED THEME theme here is simply the one amazing garment you want to show off.  We aren’t trying to do a lot of accessorizing because it could easily become cluttered, so we opt for just a basic black body wearing an ethnic work of art and lots of jewelry.


tribalg-in-metal-coat-front    g-in-metal-coat-side


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