This fall, forget about slouchy silhouettes. It’s all about structure, sophistication and the return of staple items like the skinny jean and sleek, detailed boots.

Looks this winter will be versatile—allowing you to reissue some of your summer clothes by layering and dressing them up with belts, leggings and wear them into the colder months and even into spring. Many trends will be returning, like the high-waisted and wide-leg pant, but in a more loose fit. Warmer hues will be debuting, like colored denim in bold shades of green.

Black and brown neutrals will take a back seat to tweeds, plaids and warmer tones like eggplant, burnt oranges and blues. The attitude this year is sophistication with a hint of edge and funk, inspired by current trends on TV shows like “Gossip Girl” and the styles of musicians like Rhianna, who mixes class with quirk.

Amy Salinger, a fashion consultant in Chicago and New York City, who has worked on TV shows like “What Not To Wear,” said this fall is also about mismatching patterns and genres.

“It’s not that you have to get rid of that summer dress,” Salinger said. “It’s that you need to add a structured piece to it.”

One thing to add to those summer clothes is one of Salinger’s favorites—menswear garments for women.

“One big trend that is coming in is that blazers are going back to being a little bit longer—not broader—toward the menswear look,” Salinger said.

Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow have been sporting the blazer look, but have added a touch of femininity with a matching skirt.

But one does not have to be a musician or a celebrity to achieve the latest looks for fall. Stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor are offering some of the latest trends for fall that anyone can achieve.

Although you may not want to trade in those flowy dresses for layers or long pants, the looks for fall will keep you looking sexy, even bundled up.

Keeping it warm

Kirstie Lytwynec, vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus in Northbrook, Ill., said to look for jackets that are less voluminous with menswear-inspired tailoring.

“This jacket would be paired with a blouse or feminine skirt for the perfect balance,” Lytwynec said.

When fall start to turn into winter Macy’s trend expert Jennifer Wilkins suggests to try a new style, and invest in a coat you might not already have in your closet.

Look for coats that are hooded, colored, patterned or are adorned with detailed buttons or belts.

“They’re not only dramatic, but also functional as well to keep us warm in those sub-zero temps,” Wilkins said.

Also try going scarf-less with a “funnel collar” coat, which is made from a thicker material like wool that allows you to turn the collar up, to shield your face from the Chicago wind, or tuck it inside. It’s one of Salinger’s favorites.

And when it comes to color, mix it up a little— neutrals aren’t limited to black or brown. Try a deep eggplant and to add a twist, try using a tie around the waist instead of a belt, Salinger said.

Lasting layers

Layering will remain a staple in anyone’s wardrobe this fall underneath a blazer or a nice, fitted fall coat. But here’s a good thing about layering—you can incorporate garments from your summer wardrobe, as well.

“[Layering] is great for Chicagoans as we transition from season to season,” Wilkins said. “It allows us to blend our summer and fall essentials.”

Rework a medium weight summer dress into a sharp fall look by cinching it with a skinny belt at the waistline.

Belts are a great way to create a great shape on any woman. The wide belt was in last year but Salinger said skinny belts are taking over.

“Keep around something a little more structured like a T-shirt-like dress, something that’s button down or has a cinched waist,” Salinger said.

And dressing up those layers isn’t hard either; just add a nice pair of boots to your outfit.

Although colored leggings and tights will keep their presence in fall fashion, Salinger recommends not dressing up your flowy, lighter dresses with leggings in the fall. They won’t keep you warm. Layer with a blazer.

What you can add them to are dresses that fit close to the body, and pieces with longer hemlines that touch at or below the knee.

Lytwynec recommends pairing a deep purple, violet or amethyst dress with booties or a pumps to finish off the look.

Romantic blouses

Voluminous sleeves were big last year and aren’t going anywhere.

“It’s the perfect balance to the man-tailored jackets and suiting that is being seen for fall,” Lytwynec said.

LaVelle Olexa, senior vice president of public relations at Lord & Taylor said detailed sleeves are key for fall.

“The statement blouse is major—romantics with ruffles, bows, relaxed ties in whites and wovens, and lace for day or evening,” Olexa said. “They [can] be paired with everything from high-waisted to wide-leg pants, on their own or layered under jackets.”

Keep it bold. Salinger said this fall, you can pull off mixing bold colors with neutrals and get away with it, but keep it structured.

Making their debut

“Skinny jeans are a staple,” Olexa said. “They translate to all ages, are perfect for layering under big belted sweaters and cashmere vests, and tucked into knee-high boots.”

But for a bolder look, colored denim is in, try them in shades of green, purple and orange.

Colored denim will also be something you can keep wearing on into spring. They will go great with crisp white blouses, Olexa said.

Wilkins said acid wash and dark rinse jeans with hardware are also making a comeback this fall.

Pants this season are reflecting more of a menswear pattern and theme. Add in a nice tweed or plaid wide-leg or high-waisted pant as well


To add more polish to any of these fall looks, adding a medium-sized bag or an oversized clutch to any outfit will be add a sophisticated look for the evening, Salinger said.

Big chunky jewelry will add to any outfit, even if it’s just paired with a stylish fitted tee. It’s all about drawing attention to your neck and add to your outfit. It’s about making a bold simple statement with a large piece of jewelry.

“We’re getting away from simple strand layered necklaces and into bold, chunky cuffs and rings often seen all worn together,” Lytwynec said.

Or to add a bolder touch, try something more daring like organic materials like wood and horn.

“The more unusual, the better,” Wilkins said.

Flats are a great way to dress up an outfit too, but they can just be that—flat. Try a metallic or a patent leather to have a more updated, modern look. Booties and shootes add to any outfit as well, especially with a nice colored legging. Boots, though, are versatile and will work with anything from skinny jeans, to dresses, to a nice shortler-length cuffed wide-leg pant to keep your legs covered, Salinger said.

“Stick with mary janes and booties along with tall, slouchy boots,” Wilkins said. “These are much more weather-appropriate and should be on your list for fall must-haves. Everything from stacked heels and wedges to a great flat-bottom booth, which will be perfect with a rubber sole for icy weather.”


We didn’t forget about you, guys. Vests remain a staple in your fall wardrobe.

“Vests are terrific because they’re versatile and work well with T-shirts and denim,” Wilkins said.

To add a more sophisticated, dressy element Salinger recommends wearing a stencil-printed button-down shirt and a flat-fronted dress pant. As for shoes, stick to distressed motorcycle-like boots and sneaker loafers, which are comfortable, but still look dressy.

Going for it

No matter the look you go for this fall, if you don’t feel comfortable in it—don’t get it.

“Keep in mind that not every trend works for every woman,” Wilkins said. “Have fun, and decide for yourself what works best for your silhouette.”

–Pioneer Press, August 2008

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