PLAN FOR 1890S DECADENCE THIS FALL
Fashion follows a pattern of predictable reversals to keep itself fresh. If this summer’s girl was a lusty peasant in flared cuffs, folksy denim and leather, then her sequel is bound to be a prim Princess in tailored velvet jackets and knee high boots.
Hard looks follow soft ones, long skirts follow short and bizarre little twists unnerve enough to keep us shopping for seasonal pieces. If you’re smart you’ll make tiny changes to update your wardrobe and ignore the more outlandish (and expensive) urgings of the glossies. One beautifully cut jacket and a great pair of boots are THE style survival basics for fall, and the rest, well that depends on your hips, your budget and your Cinderella fantasies.
Fall’s jackets are a little bit theatrical. Think Napoleon, Adam Ant and late seventies Oscar De la Renta and you have the jacket of the moment. Epaulets, snug square shoulders and high collars cut a flattering swathe and take us away from the predictable black leather jacket worn eternally by Meg Ryan and Rachel on “Friends.”
The romantic cut of this season’s jackets can be worn with a paisley silk scarf or romantic blouse with lacy frills for evening. During the day it looks best worn laid back: Try a roll neck sweater or long sleeved T in a bold stripe. The new tailored cavalry jacket’s waist skimming lines suit a slender trouser, jeans or a knee length slightly flared skirt.
Boots on the runways in Europe nudged the knees and reached thigh high at Gucci. A more moderate version looks hot reaching the top of the calf and sports a slightly lower heel — the better to stride rather than hobble. After years of pointed toes, boots for fall are less witchy and sport a rounder toe.
The beauty of investing in a great pair of boots is the sex appeal they lend seemingly innocent and even plain items. Boots transform a gray wool shift, a kilt or a little hand knitted cardigan into something sassy. Wear them bare legged with a straight tweed skirt and a cavalry jacket to lead the stampede.
The crazy knit
The sensible cashmere twin set in pretty pastels has passed. In its place are English eccentrics: sweater vests with sweet rows of knitted stitches across the front. Softening the edges of tailored skirts and trousers are hand knits made to look like jackets, cable knits in shrunken proportions and tight little cardigans sporting whimsical buttons. Pull one on and the season when libraries, long walks and bicycle rides through crunchy leaves beckons.
The pencil skirt
Women cringe when this skirt shape comes back, reaching for killer heels and Spanx® power panties to straighten their lines. If your shape is string bean, by all means wriggle into the season’s herringbone tweed pencil skirts. The rest of us can avail the alternatives: leather skirts flared slightly at the hip, wool lycra (infinitely forgiving) or a sweet little kilt.
Try a straight skirt one size bigger — just don’t buy a thing until you’ve found a coordinating dream jacket. A tightly tailored top affords a longer, more generous skirt, and tall boots shave pounds off your frame. Above all keep your skirt plain: no flounces, no distressed denim and absolutely no chunky hip belts.
After so many slouchy suede shoulder bags, fringed denim duffels and canvas weekenders, the pleasure of an autumn bag dwells in its structure. Tapestry carpet bags ala Mary Poppins and little velvet handbags for night add a dash of Victorian splendor to streamlined suits and military jackets.
Corsets, crosses and curls
Plan for 1890s decadence this fall. Corsets in velvet and damask worn with chokers, crystal crosses and sweeping skirts make an office girl feel like a Russian empress. To complete the image trade your blow-out for a curling iron or let your natural kinks tumble dry. Romance the look with a velvet muff, or something more subtle like rich plum lipstick or a black velvet ribbon tied around one wrist. With this look, a little goes a long way: a glimpse of lace stocking beneath a sober suede skirt, a Victorian necklace with a straight suit or a little black dress in velvet instead of crepe are fall’s passionate pleasures.