Feature Stories

Deeper Shade of autumn

Your guide to fall fashion

By Jennifer Dodds Fox
We’re lucky to live in a four-season region, and the transition from summer to fall is glorious. The blend of crisp air with warm sunshine, leaves bursting with color and the first taste of tartly sweet (or is that sweetly tart?) apple cider is intoxicating. After a hot summer filled with neons and brights as far as the eye could see, the rich textures and deep hues of the coming season are a relief for the senses. Playful and interesting combinations of cashmere, leather, tweed and fur with silk and chiffon were seen all over the runways. The autumn color palette is chock full of versatile neutrals and vibrant yet refined tones that add depth to layered looks. While many designers and brands produce exquisite collections, those that offer wearable clothing paired with standout accessories resonate the most with the average American woman. Observing the runways of New York, Paris, London and Milan is my favorite sport, and fall fashion is as exciting for me as October baseball. Here’s your starting lineup for a stylish autumn:


The Designers

MICHAEL KORS
If Bill Blass (ahem, Fort Wayne native) is the king of American sportswear, Michael Kors is the prince. The Kors woman oozes cool elegance and casual sophistication, making the designs perfect for Fort Wayne fashionistas. Cabin chic (now “a thing”) is the theme for Kors Fall 2012. Healthy doses of plaid, leather and fur, with sequins thrown in for good measure, made thick coats, fringed ponchos and chunky knits glamorous and rustic at the same time. A standout piece was the red and black buffalo plaid poncho, paired with big fur accessories and black leather boots. Think modern day Grace Kelly goes on vacation in Aspen.

Bottom line: If a plaid poncho isn’t for you, get in on the look by adding a buffalo check scarf to your jacket and tote your essentials in a fur handbag. Of course, the addition of aviator sunglasses always Kors-ifies any look! Find diffusion line MICHAEL Michael Kors clothing and accessories at Macy’s.

RACHEL ZOE
The pantsuit is an office staple, but Rachel Zoe manages to make it look less Hillary Clinton and more Marianne Faithfull. In fluid fabrics or plush velvet a suit can be broken up and worn with other pieces in your closet for maximum versatility. Zoe also swapped pants and skirts for shorts with matching blazers and opaque tights — a look that, while marvelous, is not appropriate for a more conservative office. There’s always an undercurrent of 1970s chic in Zoe’s collections. Faux fur coats thrown over shoulders and worn with big plastic sunglasses are vintage glam rock.  Silky bow-neck blouses, floppy felt hats and leather vests look chic and uber-cool, not costume-y. If Mick Jagger comes knocking, you’ll know what to wear.

Bottom line:  A tailored suit in an unexpected fabric or color will breathe new life into your work wear.  Stop by Symmetry for some groovy RZ style.

DKNY
DKNY consistently offers up street-savvy styles with a feminine kick. This season it’s all about loads of shiny black leather jackets, flirty skirts and embossed wide belts. Sleeves of tweed jackets are made in fur, while fur jackets feature leather sleeves. Dresses are updated with sheer sleeves in black and magenta. Thin leather piping updates a basic charcoal gray skirt suit, and opaque, matte tights keep it tame for day. DKNY also showed subdued florals — muted tones, not brash and bright, and matte fabrics — for blouses and skirts. Mixing these florals with a touch of fur or leather makes for a sophisticated combination.

Bottom line: A wide belt adds shape and drama to monochromatic looks. Floral pieces in refined palettes add feminine flair. Donna Karan offers multiple price points across many collections, some available at Macy’s.

REBECCA TAYLOR
Long layers dominate Rebecca Taylor’s Fall collection. Soft leather skinnies worn under sheer blouses and dresses with heathered gray leggings and fur booties is a comfy alternative to more structured silhouettes. The easy sensibility of thin and varied layers can be worn day or night, adding glittering accessories for the latter. The key to mastering the look is to start with a base of leggings and dress or camisole and skinny pants, then add extras like blouses, floaty cardigans and scarves. This manner of dressing is tailor-made for the transitional weather of a Midwestern autumn — just add or take away as the temps fluctuate.

Bottom line: Make the most of your neutral basics by trying new combos and adding exceptional accouterments. Belyst offers a well-edited selection of versatile, fashion forward clothing. Essentials & Frosting in Auburn stocks superb foundation pieces like high-quality leggings in addition to hard-to-find labels.

LOUIS VUITTON
For this year’s show, Louis Vuitton models came steaming onto the runway in a stunning, custom-built train, The Louis Vuitton Express. The collection was inspired by the days when rail travel was at its most glamorous. The models wore long leather gloves, and their leopard print and textured leather handbags were carried down the runway by sharply dressed porters. The ladylike coats and jackets with oversized embellished buttons and dramatic, scalloped lapels were breathtaking. The comically big, soft hats? Not so much...

Bottom line: Make a serious style statement with long leather gloves in black or rich cognac. Switch out the buttons on your current roster of blazers, jackets and coats with more ornate versions for a quick upgrade. Von Maur always has a great selection of outerwear.


The Essentials

THE BLAZER
This perennial favorite is elevated by thoughtful details such as unexpected colors, a velvet collar or peplum ruffle. Pair with pants and skirts already in your closet to breathe new life into aging suits. Update classic tweeds by wearing a thin, colorful belt over or under.

Splurge: A great blazer will serve you for years and can be dressed up or down. Proper fit and superior construction is key to avoid looking boxy.

THE DRESS
Dresses this season, while not skin tight, are fit close to the body, whether structured or floaty. A column dress in black or charcoal that hits just above or at the knee can be worn with bare legs, opaque tights or sheer black nylons and paired with a strong bootie or a classic pump. It’ll be your go-to dress when you can’t figure out what else to wear.

Save: Make your morning routine a bit easier by stocking an arsenal of dresses that look great on you and make you feel fab. Options abound at the mall that won’t break the bank. When it comes to dresses, more is the new black.

TEH COAT
It’s easy to succumb to a plain coat but this fall/winter elevate your style with a knockout, ladylike coat in colorful
solids, herringbone or houndstooth and
with a dramatic fur collar or cuffs. Longer lengths add drama and are right on trend this year, so go to the knee or ankle for sophisticated warmth.

Splurge: An elegant coat is always a good idea, but do not settle for anything that doesn’t fit you perfectly. Altering heavy materials can be complicated and expensive so take that into consideration before purchasing.

THE BLOUSE
This closet staple has been updated with sheer materials, patterns, prints and solids with more details than before like stylized buttons, knife pleats, bows and ruffles. Worn loose, belted, unbuttoned halfway over a camisole and at any sleeve length, the blouse has never been more versatile. A long blouse can take the place of a dress when worn over leggings, especially if it’s “mullet” style (longer in back). Juxtapose a sheer and feminine shirt with a chunky cardigan sweater and a long, glinty necklace. Wear a crisp white blouse under a velvet or sequined sweatshirt with collar, cuffs and tails peeking out.

Save: Instead of investing in one or two, I say the more the merrier. Look to fast fashion stores for affordable and varied options.

THE JEANS
Last fall we saw the rise of colorful denim in all silhouettes and that trend shows no signs of stopping. In addition to color, this season’s update takes form in metallic washes. Whether understated or bold, the metallic finish of denim makes an otherwise standard pair feel more special. All that being said, a grrreat basic jean in a dark wash never goes out of style.

Splurge: Finding the perfect pair of jeans is akin to stumbling across the Holy Grail. Flattering denim is worth the splurge.


The Accessories
When it comes to accessories, if a high-quality piece sings to you, snap it up. Otherwise, a well-curated collection of moderately priced, on-trend pieces will provide lots of mileage each season.

THE SHOE
Whether lace or zip up, embellished, platform or wrapped in fur, the wedge bootie is the workhorse of the season. This wear-with-anything style provides comfortable height and adds a funky, downtown vibe to basic ensembles.

THE HANDBAG
Large, structured bags go well with this season’s feminine silhouettes. Keep the look from becoming too stiff by choosing one with subtle embellishments or a mix of textures.

THE HAT
Tweed fedoras and wide-brim felt hats add interest to almost any outfit. A small feather in your cap adds panache.

THE SCARF
Oversized scarves in colorful, painterly prints and soft fabrics are a must. A scarf can take the place of a necklace, punch up a basic look and take the chill out of autumn nights. You literally can never have too many scarves ...

THE JEWELS
Bold bracelet combinations are still No. 1 for jewelry trends, but the overall look is not as haphazard and jumbled. Choose a monochromatic theme for a ladylike version of the “arm party” — the art of wearing an absurd amount of clashing bracelets at one time on one wrist, according to blogger Leandra Medine.

Pile various rings on the same hand for an eclectic look or stack thin bands together for a more delicate take on the “more is more” trend.

Earrings are edging out necklaces when it comes to statement pieces. Look for antiqued metals juxtaposed with bright gems or suede and fabric.

Posted: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:59 pm
Last updated: Fri, 11/02/2012 - 2:12 pm