By Wendy Donahue, Tribune Newspapers
August 21, 2012
Fashion lovers can feel fall in the air and on the hangers. Rich textures — leather, brocade, baroque jeweling, fur (faux and real) and velvet — confer a touchability to the disparate trends trickling into stores, from menswear-inspired tailoring to 1940s-feminine silhouettes.
"Fall is a really interesting season because we have so many trends that are almost opposite," said Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director for Nordstrom. "Fall is really about using the runway as a compass, then you decide where you're going to go."
Susan Kaufman, editor of People StyleWatch, said the luxurious thread doesn't mean everything is priced out of reach of the average consumer.
"Leather is just ubiquitous. There are so many ways to wear it and at so many price points," said Kaufman, who cites a knit sheath from Guess with a leather panel at the top, or a leather peplum top at H&M to pair with jeans and heels.
Many of fall's top trends look freshest when juxtaposed with the unexpected. Here's how:
"The newest way to wear leather it is to make it pretty/tough — put a leather jacket with lace or a chiffon skirt so you don't come across as a rocker," Kaufman said. "It's about mixing it with a more feminine fabric." Leather jackets for fall are made of supple, fine calfskin with a sleek-fitting motocross or biker inspiration, Andrews said, so they can be worn as an alternative to a tailored jacket, not just as outerwear. "It can really be a workhorse in a woman's wardrobe," Andrews said. There are leather pencil skirts, leather sheath dresses or just leather trims. "The leather legging or pant or jean is what all the celebs are wearing," Kaufman said. "Tone it down by wearing an oversize sweater." When leather isn't black, it's oxblood, "the color of the season," Kaufman proclaims.
The newest way to wear a dressier brocade piece is with something more casual — "to avoid looking like you're wearing a drape," said Lauren Wetherbee, founder of thesixosix.com. Wetherbee also loved Opening Ceremony's striking but wearable brocades. "The great thing about brocade is H&M and Jennifer Lopez for Kohl's have it too, so you can find this luxurious feeling and you don't have to buy designer."
Menswear-inspired tweeds and trousers are a fall staple. This year, it's not about androgyny. The fabrics aren't stiff or coarse; they drape softly and show a woman's silhouette. Kaufman likes black and white houndstooth, as in a Vince Camuto houndstooth top with black sleeves and an asymmetric hem for a modern twist. Menswear influences women's footwear too, with lots of cap-toe oxfords, brogues and velvet slippers. "If you're young," Kaufman said, "wear these shoes with a short flippy skirt or a little shift dress. You want that yin and yang." Oversize coats were another iteration of the trend. To avoid looking like a linebacker, pair with skinny pants.
On the feminine curve
The counterpoint to masculine looks are silhouettes that accentuate feminine curves — peplum hems on jackets and tops and trumpet flare skirts. "It's such an easy trend for every woman because it's so flattering," Kaufman said. "I've seen lots of pullover sweaters with a peplum hem, too, so it's not just about work or dressy clothes. It's working on casual clothes too." Andrews traces it to a fascination with 1940s femininity. "It wasn't about looking overtly sexy," Andrews said. The take-away is to call attention in some way to the curve at the hip.
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