Needs Style

Spring Fever
Apart from an outlandish design or two, new sneaker styles are usually unremarkable. But not since they put air in soles has a technological innovation been as striking as the Nike Shox, which feature bright-red, highly resilient foam springs on the heels. There was so much give in the running model we tried that it almost seemed as if the sneakers were exercising and we were along for the ride. (And if Vince Carter could wear the basketball model in the Olympics, we won’t refuse the added assistance, either.) The Shox hit Niketown November 15 ($150). Better run there in your old sneakers – only 20 to 30 pairs per model have been allocated to each store.

Out in the Cold
Last year, the style sorority informed us that bare legs were the official dress code for winter; this year, they’re getting cold feet, too. The season’s frosty fashion spreads and ads are touting toe-baring shoes – Prada’s campaign showcases a model stepping through snow in forties-style open-toed pumps – and wintry weather isn’t preventing fashion editors from sallying forth in sandals. The editors’ shoe of the moment, in fact, is Gucci’s gold strappy sandal with tiger-head ornaments. If your commute consists of a ten-second walk from Town Car to office doors, they look suitably decadent – the rest of us will be forgiven, we hope, for seeking solace in socks.

Sweater Weather
Just when you thought jean jackets would never be retired, ankle-length sweater-coats are fast taking their place. J. Crew’s version (pictured, $128), a brown wool cable-knit, is the follow-up to a hooded cotton number that sold out of the flagship store in three days. Anthropologie weaves a retro-hippie interpretation with a velvet collar and red flowers ($218); DKNY is stocking a hand-knit funnel-neck ($528); and Ralph Lauren’s ribbed cashmere has a cardigan-style top ($995). In fact, some of these monklike robes are surprisingly sumptuous. “It’s a good substitute for fur,” explains Ray Lechler, store manager at Malo, where a twelve-ply bathrobe-style in cashmere goes for $2,097. “You’re not going to get spray-painted in these.”

Smart Set
Tony Melillo

Five years ago, when Tony Melillo was Esquire’s style director, he couldn’t find anything to wear. “It was really hard to get a pair of sweatpants that weren’t just for the gym,” he remembers. “Or a great dress shirt that didn’t cost designer prices.” So Melillo quit his job; started Nova, a line of inexpensive, color-coordinated drawstring pants, skinny tees, and felt jackets; and opened a boutique on Ludlow Street. His clothes had an I’m-too-cool-to-care-what-I-wear attitude that was an instant hit with local hipsters and young businessmen looking for edgy Friday attire, but last summer, corporate infighting and unpaid orders forced Nova out of business. Tony will deliver again: His just-completed new collection, bearing his name, arrives at Barneys and Fred Segal this spring ($45-$270). Might a women’s line follow? “Maybe,” Melillo muses. “But they like men’s things better anyway – Madonna bought the judo pants, and Gwyneth wears the chinos.”

Needs Style