Fall is in the air…now what to wear?
By Wayne Bell
As soon as May turns into June, I start thinking about fall. Maybe that has something to do with Hobby Lobby already putting out their Halloween and eeek….Christmas décor. Who knows? I like to think that it actually has to do with me dreaming of a time that is not so stinking hot. Arkansas can be brutal in the summer and I long for sweet relief every fall.
In the Natural State, we are presented with quite a challenge when it comes to dressing for slightly cooler weather. If you believe the magazines, you should be draping yourself in tweeds and heavy wools. However, we all know that this isn’t exactly practical in Northwest Arkansas.
In one football game, we can go from blistering hot to nippy in a few short hours. It’s important to think about the popular trends with weather like this.
Some looks or “classics” will never go out of style. A well fitting, tailored white shirt will carry over from season to season with effortless results. There is nothing more flattering on a man or a woman than a crisp, white shirt. The same could be said for a quality black suit. These pieces should be considered investments. Many of the trendier pieces can come and go with less expense.
This season is all about personal expression. By using your own style, blended with the trends, you should appear classy and chic throughout the fall season.
For the Ladies
Okay. Let’s start with the classics. Go out and invest in nicely made gray and tan suits. The nice thing about these pieces is that they can be broken down into separates to create lots of different looks.
A great jacket can be paired with jeans as effortlessly as it can be paired with its corresponding pant. I would always recommend that you purchase two pairs of pants to go with your suits. The pants tend to get laundered more and you want to make sure that they can sustain multiple wears.
Speaking of a great suit, PLEASE INVEST IN A TAILOR! I see tons of women parading around Northwest Arkansas in fancy clothes (yes…that’s you, too Benton County), and yet they refuse to get their clothes properly tailored. A tailor can be your best friend. It doesn’t matter how much you actually spend on your clothes, if they don’t fit properly.
The big difference in clothing prices comes in how the clothes will actually hold up. However, if you don’t make sure that your clothes fit properly, your Prada dress may look like a tent.
Once you get your two versatile suits, try to find some classic dress shirts. Pickup a black and white dress shirt. Make sure they fit perfectly. Spend some money. These items are the staples to your wardrobe. You wouldn’t skimp on kitchen appliances, so why would you in your wardrobe?
A well fitting suit is like a great stove. You wouldn’t skimp on a great stove. However, chunky jewelry and handbags are like couscous. You have it in your pantry, but it doesn’t break the bank. Think of the trendy seasonal pieces as things you shouldn’t spend your entire paycheck on.
Your last staple should be a few pair of well fitting designer jeans. The less bells and whistles the better. Just remember my number one pet peeve: old lady jeans. Your jeans should not start where your breasts stop. I see tons of ladies parading around the square wearing these horrible garments. I cannot for the life of me figure out why these women wear these jeans that put their acid-washed jeans-covered-stomachs out for everyone to gawk at. Yes, you know you do!
Make your jeans your last major investment piece for the fall. Try to stick to a dark wash and stick with respectable brands like Seven, Paper Denim & Cloth, and Rock & Republic. Why? These jeans are expensive. Why? Because these designers know what they are showing off and they know what they are hiding. If you scout local resale shops, you are bound to find some of these brands at greatly reduced prices.
Now the fun!
This season is all about color. Jewel tones are huge this fall. Pastels and brights have been replaced with deep purples, emeralds, teals and reds. Look at someone like Sarah Jessica for advice. She was sporting deep colors all throughout the fall portion of the “Sex and the City” movie.
Project Runway’s Heidi Klum wears deep purple and blue as much as she does black and white. There is a reason for this. Deep colors look good on just about anybody. Pastels and brights often washout some people, but deeply saturated colors can make an average complexion glow.
Speaking of glowing, metallics aren’t disappearing, yet. Yes, the bold, over-the-top metallics have taken a back seat this season, but accessories are still metallic bound. Small sections of metallics on purses and shoes are still quite popular. The matte fabrics with threads of metallic are a nice subtle way to add a little zip. Remember that classy is key, even when wearing metallics.
For shoes, the gladiator heels are slowly whining out this season. They are being replaced with beautiful heels with more class. The styles of the ‘40s and ‘50s are back. Mary Jane’s, jazz oxfords and simple leather pumps are back and thank god, the strappy sandal is on vacation.
When it comes to jewelry, keep it simple. Gold and silver are replacing the chunky necklaces of seasons past. This season is all about refined elegance and streamlined style. The same rings true for make-up. Stop by one of the local salons or spas or a department store for a consultation. Consultations are usually free and you will learn a lot.
The bottom line is: Keep your look simple. The complicated styles of spring are gone and the refined palate of fall is here.
For the Guys
Just like the ladies, the gentlemen should make some investments, too. A good suit in a charcoal or navy will stretch throughout the season. Unlike the ladies, we are presented with fewer options. It seems we either get wool or linen. Linen is too cool for fall and wool is too hot. We are kind of screwed. But if you’ve got the bucks, high end designers like Armani, Prada and Zegna are making lightweight wool crepe suits that can be worn season to season, year to year. I would strongly suggest that you invest in a great suit and then break it up to use as separates. Just please remember that even Justin Timberlake has given up the t-shirt-with-suit fantasy and so should you!
Even more critical than with the ladies, fit is of major importance for men. Nothing looks worse than a badly tailored or untailored suit. However, suits don’t have to break the bank. Don’t misunderstand though, suits should be of some expense. However, they don’t have to be thousands of dollars. I am constantly surprised by the number of beautiful suits that Target offers for under $100.
Once you have your suits, invest in jeans. The days of baggy Levis are over. That being said, the days of $30 Levis are over as well. Levis upper lines can run into the hundreds of dollars. The thing about jeans is that a good pair can be worn for any occasion. I recommend the darker washes with minimal fading. That way you can really stretch your buck and wear your jeans with a t-shirt or a sports coat.
The last major item that you should invest in this season has to be a sweater. From DKNY to Jil Sander, sweaters are all the rage this fall. From electric blue to heather gray, sweaters are huge. They can be worn throughout the season.
Some of my favorites include the bulky cable-knits from Ralph Lauren and Lacoste, but be careful with bulky sweaters. Unless you are rail thin, they can pack on extra pounds and they can be unbearable in the early fall. If you are lucky enough to find lightweight cable-knits, you can wear them through the fall and winter months.
Your cheaper pieces this fall can come in some of your accessories. I am a huge fan of hats and vests. Made popular by the likes of David Beckham and Timberlake, vests and fedoras are a fall classic. Fitted vests in gray or stripes are a classy way to dress up an otherwise boring ensemble. I recently fell in love with one by Ralph Lauren. However, it was around $300. I found a duplicate style for less than $15 at Target. It’s all about being resourceful this fall.
Five Rules for Fall
1) Wear fall, don’t be fall! It’s okay to hint at fall with rich chocolates, pumpkins and garnets, however, that doesn’t mean that you should be wearing sweater vests with scarecrows, pumpkin people and falling leaves. I know that this recommendation will probably get me stoned by a bunch of War-Eagle shoppers, but c’mon! Hint at autumn without entering a pageant.
2) Keep it simple, stupid! If you’re going for a lot of look in your fall wardrobe, keep your accessories simple. A well made pair of heels or dressy sneakers (for the guys…think Diesel) are so much more impressive than overdoing it on your accessories.
3) Think Retro! “Mad Men” is a huge hit on AMC. I am always watching the show for eye-candy (yum, John Slattery) and fashion inspiration. The chic styles of “Mad Men” can provide you with some great ideas for shape and style. But, always remember to update those retro styles, so that you don’t look like a character.
4) Black and White. Brown, Gray, and Navy! Okay, I know that I sound like a broken record, but these are staples for a reason. Nobody looks bad in these colors. Why? Because these are the foundation for any fashionable man or woman. They are the canvas to paint on. (That was beautiful).
5) Finally…Have fun! Fashion takes itself way to seriously. Designers like Lagerfeld, Chanel and Saint Laurent made fashion fun. They constantly mixed up their aesthetic to remain relevant and fun. Modern examples like Marc Jacobs and Marchesa continue this tradition. At the end of the day, it’s just clothes. They should be an expression of you, and only you.
So the fashion forecast looks very bright for fall. I am excited. I am tired of vagina dresses and strappy sandals. I am tired of t-shirts and shorts. It’s time to relish the season and embrace our inner fashion divas. I know you all have them, why not let them shine?
Don’t forget to shop our local stores. These stores provide the same great looks as national chains, but the money stays closer to home.