Fashion Makeover for Her
As fashion trends go, we'd like to read that "baggy" and "bare" are so old! We'd like move on to something new and nice for a change. In doing our seasonal market research, however, the ongoing fashion mood, according to one fashion forecaster, is still "sexy, but sleek and sophisticated." Another forecaster goes on record with "feminine, ladylike looks from the 50s" and suit-dressing is finally back in favor. Still others maintain "casual comfort and easy dressing" are prime, with "casual wear loosening up."
Can casual get any "looser" than it already is? We don't think so. In reality, fashion for fall 2004 will be a mix of all the above—and more. Classic "Preppy" clothes remain strong. Designer John Galliano is going heavy on "Egyptian" themes, while designer Jean Paul Gaultier gives us "unstructured, almost primitive" styles and accessories. Elements of their designs will trickle down with mass market appeal.
Brazil is an up and coming fashion capital, so expect to see its influence grow. To be expected, there is opposition in all things, including fashion good looks. There is the "naughty librarian fantasy" that pairs tight twinset sweaters with a hardware trimmed skirt. The look will land you nowhere you really want to go. Versace puts out a dubious evening lineup of "punked-out," twisted, slashed, and contorted gowns that present you in various states of undress. Look elsewhere.
What follows are discussions of the great, the good, the bad and the ugly for Fall 2004 and beyond. We incite you to read through the major trends and call it quits, or go on to pick and choose to read what interests you.
Style Lines and Shapes
- Choose loose or close fitting silhouettes. Loose silhouettes create a relaxed attitude and easy movement. Silhouettes that fit close to the body are based on belted waistlines and stretch fabrics. Allow extra ease with stretch fabrics or you'll get stretch marks—stress wrinkles pointing to the body bulge that's fitted too tightly.
- High waistlines are coming back—a great way to visually lengthen a shorter lower torso or shorter legs.
- Side surplice wrap tops and dresses are still "in" and available. They work to visually slim a wider waistline.
- There is renewed interest in layering your clothes. You might like wearing a long jersey dress over skinny pants. More traditional are light to medium weight layered vests, shirt-jacs, and jackets over skirts and pants. They provide a transitional line between shoulder and hem to easily camouflage a larger bust, midriff bulge, wider waist, rounded tummy, and prominent high or low hip curves, side thighs, and behind. If you want more about how to get a flattering fit, go to our online Bookstore and consider Fabulous Fit, Shape In Clothing Selection and Coordination, and Dress Slim.
- Black is certainly "out there," but takes a back seat to brown—even in evening wear.
- Brown outnumbers black as a basic. In today's world, brown feels safe and secure, earthy, and well-grounded. You'll find rich-looking chocolate brown, espresso, mocha, and mahogany, spicy amber and caramel, moving to lighter coppery colors.
- Classy, cool charcoal and gray are livened by warm hues in pumpkin, camel, ivory, and cream.
- Pale or faded vintage neutrals appear antiqued, tea-stained, or scorched, aged for authentic vintage appeal.
- Green is cropping up all over—in grass green, lime green, lettuce, chartreuse and avocado yellow-green, muted sage and loden green, strong jade, and emerald. Charcoal, combined with forest green make a unique color scheme in clothes.
- Teal blue-green and turquoise offer more fashion options that virtually every body can wear beautifully. Try teal with camel, caramel, red, brown, black, or charcoal. You've got options.
- True blues come in sapphire, midnight blue, and steel blue-gray.
- Fashion pulls from all around the color wheel to include purple—with tints and shades in lilac, lavender, mauve, plum, and aubergine. Try lavender or purple with black or charcoal. We've done plum with black, taupe, and a touch of teal.Making a strong "Hello" statement, you'll find red and hot pink paired with black or brown. Brown paired with pink is out of the ordinary. Opt for brown with a dusty pastel pink if you prefer.
- Medium to light tints of red-orange include coral, shell pink, and bare blush, as well as blue-red burgundy and berry colors—all of which look extraordinary worn with black, brown, or charcoal.
- Fabric manufacturers work more than a year-and-a-half in advance of showings and they've combined high-tech fabric innovation with low-tech, hands-on creativity. Fabrics offer you allure, a lot of technomagic, and a whole lotta luxury thrown into the mix.
- Lighterweight than ever, georgette, sheer chiffon, clingy jersey, and draped satin enhance the feminine fashion theme.
- Wool tweed or boucle and boiled wool, Cashmere, angora, mohair can be counted on to keep you warm.
- For fun, we like leather and pony skin pieces, but suggest you pass on the down-filled "puffer" dress or jacket.
- Luxury comes into play with velvet, a natural for dressy-casual in pants and shirt, or skirted for dressy-formal occasions.
- More luxury looks are seen in brocade and metallic brocade, gold or bronze lamé, and gold or silver sequined material.
- In keeping with the "his for her" theme, tailored tuxedo jackets and double breasted smokings are made up in feminine fabrics like satin or crepe de chine for the look of tailored shapes that cling and flow to reveal "la femme."
- With brown as fashion basic this winter season, you can bet that fur will be featured—either faux or the genuine pelt. Make it mink, fox, or chinchilla. Make it a winter whiteout with white fur.
- There's still more denim, including dirty denim, than we've seen in our combined lifetimes. Dare to be different and try something new to you. You've got options—use'em or lose'em.
- Print, stripe, and plaid patterns are finally getting favorable attention again. It's been a long, minimalistic time coming.
- You'll find stylized paisleys, geometrics, abstracts, floral prints, animal prints, and "Garden of Eden" prints complete with snakes, birds, and butterflies. We'll put our money on a trendy chevron striped shirt or a classic paisley skirt.
- Invest in "his for her" woven checks, herringbone, houndstooth, and tweed patterns for basics. Buy into a lumberjack plaid strictly for play.
- If you're the type, pick from 70s diagonal plaids, dots, spots, and Pucci prints.
- Antiqued floral prints are reminiscent of old wallpaper or tablecloths. Make sure it's really your style.
- "Ombré" is new to most, a dye technique where the color changes gradually across the cloth, usually monochromatically from light tints to dark shades.
- Avoid anything garish or with three-dimensional motifs that appear to rise off the surface of the fabric.
- Women comfortable using solid colors only are smart to find a pattern of colors they love and use it as inspiration for a whole cluster of workable clothes. The fabric designer has done the hard part of coming up with a color scheme. Ideally, one of the colors is a wardrobe neutral and some color repeats your personal coloring—your hair, eye, lip, and skin colorations. This allows you to become a beautiful part of the color scheme with your clothes. You pick out your favorite for core cluster pieces and rely on the pattern piece(s) for variety and interest.
Design Details & Decoration
- Feminine detail and decoration is everywhere, on everything you can think of. Subtlety is often left behind, so go easy and pick only what works for you.
- Fabric manipulation includes lacing, ruffling and ruching, pin-tucks and patchwork.
- The list of trims is long—using appliqué and embroidery, banding or piping, feathers or fringe, satin ribbon or sequins, beads and jewels.
- Buttons can be big—great big, but usually not great-looking. Opt for something else.
- Costume looks include jeweled buttons on lean tweed coats, tweed pencil skirts dusted with sequins, sportive gray flannel trousers with flippy godets of lace set into the hem, glitter outlining pleats of a knee-length skirt, glitter and shine on shorts and tee-tops. You name it, it's "out there."
- Like we said, suit-dressing is as feminine as it is fashionable. Because of all the feminine detail, we call them "cosmetic suits" or something for the ladies who lunch.
- If you're strictly sportive, Austin Reed suits may better fit your needs.
- Choose from either single-breasted or double-breasted jackets, slightly shaped to very fitted with Yin puffed sleeves or Yang oversized shoulders.
- There are little bolero, box, and cropped jackets suited only for women without side thighs or much else below the belt.
- Smaller than these are shrugs of cashmere, quilt, or fur, topping off a 50s full-skirted dress.
- Shirts & Blouses
- The trend is totally feminine, soft and sheer or silky, bowed, with bell or bloused sleeves.
- Most lingerie tanks of sheer fabric, ribbon, and lace belong in the bedroom.
- Latin looking, off-the-shoulder tops are equally trendy, appropriate in the evening hours.
- For business or leadership roles, look for classic manstyle sportshirts and campshirts. The collar lifts attention to your face for better communication.
- Traditional Oxford shirts may feature flared or pleated cuffed sleeves for a touch of elegance.
- Turn the collar up, 50s style, for added sophistication.
- Choose among drop-waist flapper dresses from the 20s, fitted sheath dresses from the 50s, or a sleeveless A-line dress with matching coat from the 60s—a la Jackie Kennedy.
- Also inspired by the 50s are sleeveless dresses with a cinched waist and full skirt—not near so forgiving as a shift from the 60s.
- Knee-length shirtwaist and jersey dresses add to the variety of good looks available in stores and catalogs.
- For evening, slip dresses are still on the rack, along with sleek satin gowns.
- Choose a trendy circle skirt from the 50s, a mini from the 60s, or a maxi from the 70s.
- Simple basic shapes include pencil and A-line skirts.
- Trendy skirts come high-waisted or hip-hugging—something for everybody.
- It appears skin-tight tube skirts are so constricting that the wearer's gait is slowed to a near stand-still.
- Slit to upper thigh is too high. Slit only to the knee is the key.
- Interesting hemlines continue to be featured—something for every age and social situation. Try on flared or flippy, asymmetric, softly ruffled, or handkerchief hems. Try, for fun, a car-wash skirt, then pass it up for something with a longer wear life.
- Mid-calf length skirts tend to look dowdy or dumpy, unless they feature an asymmetrical hem treatment.
- The most trendy pants, too, are high-waisted or slung oh-so-low on the hips.
- If you haven't noticed, low riders add inches to the width of your hips.
- Pants are cropped, and straight or wide-legged.
- There are faded jeans, suede jeans, velvet jeans, and jeans with turned up cuffs in contrasting colors.
- There are knickers in velvet or leather, cuffed pants, pants rolled up, and skinny pants tucked into boots.
Sweaters & Vests
- Like blouses, trendy sweaters of the season are bowed or tied at the neck.
- There are pretty pointelle knit sweaters with puffed sleeves, sporty Fair-Isle sweaters, romantic cardigans with fancy jeweled buttons, countered by more tailored looking belted flat-knit or hand-knit sweaters. It's all a matter of personal style.
- Half-sleeve twin-sets trimmed with feathers are only for the birds.
- Vests are scoring fashion points, be they simple menswear shapes worn with pants or high-waisted shapes worn over a shirtwaist dress.
- There's nothing better for basic than a trenchcoat. It's an all-season option in classic styling. Choose basic black or tan to go with all you own—or opt for a fashion color if it fits your personal style.
- Fashion colors are being pushed this season—in red, orange, or white wool with matching fur trim.
- Less flamboyant are tweed overcoats, however, we question the wisdom of 3/4 length sleeves. Some will come with a small mink collar.
- There are novelty egg-shaped coats and big wrap coats.
- Capes, capelets and ponchos are making headlines this year. One size fits just about every body, in total comfort. Choose from among wardrobe neutral colors in black, charcoal, gray, navy, burgundy, cinnamon, olive, or white.
- Stoles are making a comeback. Not since the 50s has an over-the-shoulder stole made a fashion statement. Reasonably priced, choose from the wardrobe neutrals or a fashion color for fall. Try fur if appropriate for your lifestyle.
- Models continue to walk the runways in pointy toe sling-backs and stiletto high heels that try to look sexy, but end up only uncomfortable. Look for more comfortable blunt or rounded-toe shoes in the seasons ahead.
- Beaded Moroccan slipper-shoes, ballerina flats, oxford lace-ups, slides, and platform wedge styling are among the favored styles for fall.
- Many shoes for fall are trimmed with beading, studs, and buckles, in patent and metallic finishes.
- Think twice about cute Mary Jane styles with a strap across the instep. Whether in fashion or not, Mary Jane's communicate a little-girl look, appropriate only for elementary and teen girls.
- Chunky heels add tons of visual weight, working well only with pants.
- Best looking is a low throated black pump with high heels. Choose heel height according to your purpose and pleasure.
- Nude pantyhose with short skirts certainly enhance the look of the leg. People are finally speaking out about too much "raw" skin, bruises, veins, and all.
- Leggings are worn for a sporty look, also with short or longer skirts.
- Belts are worn at the natural waistline and up to Empire level. Low riding belts continue to be featured and can look terrific over a low-slung top. Think outside the box and give them all a try.
- Bow-tied ribbon doubles as a belt around your jacket, but often looking silly and out of place.
- A thin lizard belt offers a sporty looking option.
- Beaded and rhinestone belts are an instant updater, paired carefully with a dress, jacket or simple dressy coat.
- There is an odd assortment of bags available—costume and novelty bags.
- Mega-sized tote bags and travel bags are featured. Compare the bag size with your size and don't overpower yourself.
- Square or rectangular jewel-box bags are awkward and hard to carry.
- "Bag parties" held in private homes are the latest way of selling counterfeit designer bags and jewelry. Dealers sell the fakes at parties, giving the hostess a cut of the price. Don't get stung.
- Tweed caps are trendy and cute with sporty outfits.
- Fur hats make a romantically sportive statement and continue to come on strong for fall into winter.
- Felt hats in a variety of styles may be more available, but will anyone wear them?
- In keeping with the trend for fur, consider round fur ear muffs—real or faux.
- Scarves are a relatively inexpensive way to wear a fashion color or trendy print. Wear it in a simple style that suits your personal style.
- You'll find short, wrist-length gloves—a la Jackie Kennedy 60s style.
- A large, vintage brooch or flower pin is the jewelry item of choice for fall and winter. Supposedly, bigger is better, even on coats. Even so, we suggest you keep it in scale with your body size. A brooch on a T-shirt? Not!
- Try a trio of coordinated pins clustered at the shoulder—very 50s.
- Today's trend is for personal treasures selected from semi-precious stones such as chunky turquoise, coral, agate, and onyx, upgraded for use along side precious stones for fine and costume jewelry.
- In keeping with theme dressing, you might be exactly the person to try something in Egyptian or primitive, ethnic jewelry.
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