Congratulations to everyone who completed the Wardrobe Refashion Challenge, where we vowed to only buy vintage, recycled, or handmade clothes and accessories for two months. Hopefully those of you who participated feel better about your support of a greener world and are a bit heavier in the pocketbook as well. I know the hardest part for me was the recent back-to-school rush. I’m a long way from the classroom, but those tax-free weekends and fall fashion debuts always give me a buzz. I had to get out of town to avoid temptation.

Happily, the best part of the Wardrobe Refashion Challenge was being able to scope out so many new local designers. I’ll be featuring San Antonio and regional artists, fashion scenesters, and boutique owners in my newly revamped monthly column, as well as tying into national trends, opinions, and resources. San Antonio jewelry maker Vanessa Centeno leads the way with one of the hottest accessories for fall: her new leather cuffs for men and women.

“There’s something about wearing a cuff that makes you feel tough,” Centeno says. “It definitely is a strong statement.” Centeno’s work is characterized by natural materials like leather, metal, and raw gemstones. When working these into the cuffs, she feels the leather “takes the shape of its owner … the edges flow playfully across the wrist.” The raw stones give boldness and weight. “I enjoy adding this focal piece because it adds character to the cuffs,” Centeno said. “I’m always looking for unique stones and rocks, ones that have distinctive features.”

Her process is about creating a fundamental design and style. “I try and keep the construction of my work simple and basic, allowing the materials to speak for themselves. Some crafted accessories can be very intricate — that’s fine — however, a lot of men and women want a look that has a contemporary yet organic feel.”

Centeno’s cuffs work for the upcoming months in so many ways. When temperatures are still high and clothes as lightweight as possible, the bold organic look of the cuff can anchor an outfit and give it some heft. As we get into fall, we’re going to see less glam and ’80s graphics then we have in the recent past — the new look is simpler, more streamlined. The cuffs have a contemporary, clean feel that works well with the new neutrals. And for those with a more feminine style, the tweed pencil skirts, belled sleeves, and cinched waists of the last few seasons have not fallen away. A leather and stone cuff will give the look a little edge.

Centeno has been making handcrafted accessories for years, including leather and stone necklaces with the same raw, contemporary feel. She also works with her mother, who creates handbags using hand-dyed fabrics and designs. Centeno incorporates the leather accents and stones. “I think we are an awesome team; she has always influenced me,” Centeno says.

Although Centeno is also a painter and a dancer, “I’ll always be making jewelry. It’s part of my family’s history. My grandfather was a jeweler, and my mother and my aunt work in crafted jewelry.” Centeno sees herself possibly going back to school in California and working on a masters in Fine Arts. “I find that when the things I love in life are all working in harmony, my work benefits.”

Where to get it
You can get your hands on Centeno’s cuffs by emailing her at [email protected] Or catch her live: She has a show on First Friday, September 5, at 121 Blue Star, Loft #5.

Fall fashion

What else is hot for fall? Accessory-wise, it’s all about adding a rock-’n’-roll edge to tailored, streamlined separates. If you didn’t pick up a metallic handbag last year, you’re in luck. Metallics are still going strong and the palette has expanded beyond gold and silver – try rose, gunmetal, bronze, or green. The new Botkier for Target line is affordable.

Purple is the must-have color, for everything from shoes to bags to jewelry. More subtle than the recent dominant yellow, it pops against the season’s gray, navy, and brown without shrieking. I just bought a pair of Bandolino’s Triona, a peep-toe pump in aubergine, but I’d also recommend Nine West’s Cedargrove purple suede ankle boot – knock two trends out with one stone, as ankle boots are back and even bigger.

This summer’s love of flashy prints carries over into fall via old school plaid. A plaid coat is classic, a scarf is a safe bet, but go bold with Emilio Cavalli’s Scottish plaid tights under a black miniskirt.

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