10 Smart Buys
There’s nothing uniform about this season’s military look. Coats, jackets, dresses and shirts have all been signed up for duty. Shiny metal buttons and epaulettes are all important details. Although a full-length military coat is ideal for northern climes, it isn’t suitable for a Southwest Florida winter. Instead, opt for a tailored, brass-buttoned jacket or blazer and team it with jeans, trim khaki pants or a skirt. If you’re concerned that the look is too severe for you, choose a piece with a feminine silhouette for a strong yet sexy look that’s guaranteed to command attention.
(Suggestions: Moschino, Tommy Hilfiger, Ferragamo, Max Mara & Burberry)
Films and TV series have long influenced fashion trends, and the huge success of Downton Abbey has undoubtedly played its part in fall’s love affair with all things Edwardian. Fabrics found in English country houses—needlepoint, damask, brocade, tweed, devoré velvet—inspired designers to create eminently wearable collections with a genteel air. A three-piece suit comprising a shapely jacket, vest and wide-leg trousers is a core piece for your wardrobe; or combine a jacket in an earthy tweed or jacquard with solid-colored, slender-leg pants (or jodhpurs for an equestrian edge). One or two elements, such as a brocade bag and a neat little blouse with a raised neckline, give an aristocratic nod to an age of elegance and prevent the look from becoming costume-like.
(Suggestions: Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith, Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Fendi)
Baubles, Bangles and Beads
Even the demure, buttoned-up neckline styles (such as a Peter Pan collar) take on another dimension when they are adorned with heavy embellishment. Oversized stones, crystals and studs turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Bags, belts and shoes all get the treatment, with extra-large shoe buckles featured in many collections. If that’s not your style, try a velvet slipper with a studded toe cap; a sequined, embroidered boot; a satin clutch encrusted with colored cabochons; or a statement brooch pinned on a coat or jacket.
(Suggestions: Versace, Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Chloé)
Yin Yang Tailoring
Menswear-inspired dressing is the yin and yang of tailoring. These opposite but complementary elements of masculinity and femininity create a powerful yet undoubtedly female aesthetic, whether in a double-breasted, sharply tailored coatdress, jacket and skirt, or pantsuit. Emphasis is on the shoulder—defined but not exaggerated—and at the waist. The fabrics may be straight out of a man’s suiting swatch book—Glen plaids, flannels, pinstripes, charcoal greys, navy—but there’s nothing boxy or out of proportion about the form-fitting silhouette. Add a vibrant pop of color in the form of a silk shell or camisole, or pin a puffy silk corsage high on the lapel. A snappy trilby or mini-fedora finishes the look.
A mini-trend in itself is the cape. There are versions available in checks and plaids, but keep it simple and go for a charcoal grey or black version for versatility. A cropped shoulder cape is an ideal choice for a chilly morning and doesn’t overwhelm the silhouette.
(Suggestions: Donna Karan Collection, Etro, Dries van Noten, Georgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo)
Floor-grazing, knee-length, pleated or simply straight—skirts feature in just about every designer’s collection. Whatever the length, this season’s favorite skirts have a slit at the side, or off-center—much easier to wear (and decidedly more elegant) than a slit at center front. A longer-length skirt with a slit can be more intriguing and just as sexy as a short skirt, without revealing anywhere near as much skin. If you’re still not convinced whether the slit skirt is for you, take designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s advice: “The best trick is flesh-colored fishnets,” she says. “They give the illusion of bare legs, but they hold in what has become a little looser, such as kneecaps.”
This season’s prints are not for the fainthearted! Optical geometrics reminiscent of ’70s wallpaper prints in eye-popping colors leap out on dresses, pants, jackets and long sleeveless coats. If you’re bold, wear it head to toe, but keep the silhouette clean and simple so it doesn’t fight for attention with the pattern. If that’s still too much for your taste, choose pieces that give you a one-third/two-thirds proportion, i.e. one-third print, two-thirds solid color. If you’re petite, be careful of the scale of print so it doesn’t overwhelm you.
(Suggestions: Prada, Missoni, Etro, Kenzo, Miu Miu)
Purple heads the color charts this season, in all its many tones from amethyst to deepest indigo. Sumptuous shades of cherry, raspberry and plum also feature strongly and look delicious teamed with rose pink, blush and icy gray, providing some of the prettiest looks of the season. Red is always a favorite fall color, and this year is no exception; wear as a solid color in a fabulous luxe fabric, or use it as an accent color to liven up neutrals. Go feet first with color-blocked shoes: Some have just a flash of primary color on the instep, others have a heel in one color, the vamp in another and the toe cap in a third.
Black and Gold
A recurring trend this season is wearing gold and black together. Eighties shapes are propelled firmly into the present with metallized fabrics, metallic leathers and even gilded knitwear resembling futuristic chainmail. For evening, exquisite golden sequined cardigans paired with long, fluid black skirts are reminiscent of the roaring ’20s, and simple, black, fine-knit sweaters are encrusted with delicate but significant golden embroidery at the neckline. Keep a look out for shoes with only the heels embellished—as if The Beverly Hillbillies’ Elly May Clampett had stepped into a puddle of liquid gold rather than black gold.
(Suggestions: Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Chanel, Guiseppe Zanotti, Elie Saab)
Baroque and Roll
Perhaps it’s a reaction to the tightening of our collective belts over the last few years that has led to designers metaphorically throwing up their hands and yelling, “Enough!” Whatever it was, the result is the return of opulence. There’s a profusion of glorious, luxurious fabrics, and as if that were not enough to give us a feel-good factor, feathers, fur, lace and embroidery combined with butter-soft leathers add to this decadent air. Jewelry—in the form of brooches, cuffs and necklaces—needs to be bold to complement the trend.
There’s everything and then some when it comes to this season’s accessories, so the question becomes “where to start?” Choose one stunning accessory and use it to guide you for the remainder of your outfit. Texture and fabric are key: a handbag in a chunky tweed or plaid, finished with a leather, wooden or metal handle; a serious belt with a bold buckle; a button-up two-tone ankle boot (think “spats”); a laced-up heeled brogue; or a studded Mary Jane—any of these would be a platform from which to start.
The patterned tight is another trend that’s laid low for a while and is back with a bang. Swirls of paisley, colored fishnets, floral prints, mini-wallpaper repeats and even crochet “granny squares” have been transformed into legwear that’s anything but lame. Don’t be afraid to combine a patterned outfit with a patterned tight. To stop it from looking crazy, just keep within the same color family.
And granny-style heavy-knit shawls and stoles secured with oversized pins and clasps are an easy alternative to a woven fabric shoulder cape. Slung insouciantly across the shoulders, they look artfully chic and anything but granny-ish.
Cheryl Lampard is the founder of Style Matters International. Read her blog, Power Shopper.
So many times we hear sweeping fashion statements: “it’s the year of the skirt/pants/dress” or “We’ll all be wearing that this season.” Happily, this season brings a diversity of moods, themes and collections as designers take us on a fashion journey: We cross the globe via influences from Britain, Russia and the Far East; we are coaxed gently back in time and then hurled forward in futuristic style. With these 10 essentials in your closet, you’ll be on-trend for any occasion, from brunch to black-tie ball.