Sssstop the presses! Snakeskin accessories are one of the hottest trends for spring. Regardless of how you feel about snakes, prepare yourself to see their scaly hides, real and faux, all over the streets of major cities. They'll be on everything '- hats, bags, shoes, belts '- dyed in every color.
But when stores are exploding with accessory options, when should you pick snakeskin and how should you wear it? First, ask yourself what you'll get the most use out of. If you almost never don a belt, don't get a snakeskin version. Think of your overall style: If you typically go for a more understated look, choose a natural-colored belt or printed scarf, which is more subdued than a handbag or shoes. If you don't think you'll use a snakeskin bag every day, then buy a snakeskin evening clutch and reserve it for special occasions. The thing to remember is, you don't need to be a fashion editor to have fun with this trend, or any other '- you just need to figure out how it best fits into your lifestyle and wardrobe. Here's how to get it right:
Do your homework.
Get an idea about what you want before you walk into a store, which could overwhelm you with choices. Trends are usually splashed across the magazines well before they actually hit the shops. So when you see a look you like in a glossy, tear out the page and start a file. Look at it before you go shopping to remind yourself about what looks and feels right to you.
Buying fake snake.
If the idea of wearing real snake makes your skin crawl, or if you can't afford to shell out the big bucks, then fake snake is the way to go. To the untrained eye, there's not a huge difference in the way it looks and feels. You can't get more authentic-looking than the Cole Haan python-embossed satchel above ($595 at ColeHaan.com or Cole Haan retail stores). It's just one example of the many fabulous faux choices out there. And you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to get it. Liz Claiborne (LizClaiborne.com) offers faux snakeskin bags for under $50
Splurging on the real deal.
If only real reptile will do, be prepared to spend at least $1,700 on a handbag and approximately $750 on a pair of sandals. Not that there's anything wrong with that (if you can afford it)! There was scarcely a high-end designer that didn't show real snakeskin on the runway this spring. Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana all have amazing authentic python accessories in their lines. Check out (SaksFifthAvenue.com) for these designers and more.
A little goes a long way.
It would be against better taste to sheath yourself in python from head to toe. You can bet your little black dress that this would be a surefire way to end up in the "fashion don'ts" section of a magazine. Snakeskin accessories can be worn day or evening; they can dress up jeans and a jacket or be used as a hip accent with a black cocktail dress. For spring especially, khaki trousers and jackets paired with python are a chic combination. And you can't lose by wearing it with basic white or black.
Look for the trend in trim.
Not all accessories need to be made entirely of skin. There are plenty of stylish accessories that are simply trimmed in it. The upside to choosing one of these is that when the trend starts to subside, you can still wear your accessory without it screaming, "This is so last year!" Subtlety can save you from having to buy new accessories every time something's labeled "hot" or "not."