Fall Fashion and NWA Style

Fall Fashion and NWA Style

By Wayne Bell

There is a really great scene at the beginning of “The Devil Wears Prada” when the new assistant at “Runway” magazine, laughs in a boardroom where the editor-in-chief (Meryl Streep) is trying to decide between two seemingly similar blue belts to photograph for an upcoming issue. When the devilishly good Streep hears the laugh, she calls out the fashion-ignorant assistant (Anne Hathaway) and delivers a very sharp, yet poignant speech.

Streep’s character, Miranda Pressley states that it is ignorant and uninformed of the assistant to laugh at the decision being debated. She reminds the “young nobody” that the very frumpy garments that the assistant wears daily, were once debated in that very board room, although, a few years back.

According to Pressley, the system works like this: Yves Saint Laurent or Marc Jabobs shows a garment. “Runway” photographs and publishes it.  Three months later it appears at Barney’s. A season later, it appears at Nordstrom. The following season, it works its way into Banana [Republic] and a month or so later, it appears at Target and GAP.  Finally, a year or so later, it appears in some tragic bargain bin at Wal-Mart. And so this is the cycle of fashion.

Every fall, we in Northwest Arkansas are presented with a distinct challenge.  How do we stay up on the new fall fashion trends in both a place, and a climate that don’t always allow for us to copy the looks in Vogue?  Fear not. This article can serve as your fashion guide to get you through the challenging and often difficult fall season. Fall is a tricky season because we don’t have the severe weather that New York or Paris has that dictates the trends. However, with just a few small adjustments and a couple of key purchases, I promise that you’ll be on point this season.

First off, let’s look at your closet. It is essential that you get rid of at least half of the crap in that space. Make yourself some piles.

The first pile should consist of clothes that require mending or tailoring.  The truth is…the reason why most garments don’t work is that they don’t fit properly. Male or female, short or tall, skinny or not—FIT MATTERS!

There are a ton of seamstresses and fine tailors in Washington County. Get out your phone book and get your items tailored. Ninety five percent of the clothes you purchase from the store should be tailored. Stores do not take your personal measurements and make clothes to fit them; therefore it’s up to you to get that taken care of.

The second pile should consist of the really awful clothing that nobody really wants. I would recommend just getting rid of this stuff.

The last pile (the big one) should consist of those items that don’t work for you anymore, but may work for others. There are some great resale shops in Northwest Arkansas, and I would recommend taking this pile to one of these establishments. Also, this would also be a great time to do a tax-deductible clothing donation to a needy charity.

There are some basic items that every man and woman need in their wardrobe. If you have them in your mend or keep pile-AWESOME. If you don’t, then you’re going to have to buy them. These items should be expensive. I know that sounds awful, but it’s my suggestion that you use the bulk of your clothing funds to purchase these items, because these are investment pieces that should be kept season after season, year after year.


1)    A plain well-fitted white dress shirt.
2)    A well-fitted dark business suit with both a skirt and pants. That way you can mix and match the items.
3)    A pair of gray dress pants (preferably tweed).  If you can find a really great tweed suit, GET IT. Split those pieces up.
4)    A cream and a gray colored lightweight sweater.
5)    A black dress. It should be simple and free of embellishments.
6)    A pair of black and brown dress boots that you can transition into winter.
7)    A simple black and a simple brown belt.


1)    Two plain well-fitted white dress shirts.
2)    A well-fitted dark business suit with two sets of pants.
3)    Tweed is huge every fall, therefore,  invest in a pair of tweed pants. If you can find a well-fitted tweed jacket, get that as well.
4)    A light colored and gray lightweight sweater.  These should be slim fitting.
5)    A pair of black and brown dress boots. Not cowboy boots, think, Kenneth Cole.
6)    A simple black and a simple brown belt.
7)    A lightweight scarf.
8)    Invest in a pair of Seven or Diesel jeans in a slim straight fit. These aren’t as bad as you might think. Cheap Thrills often has a large selection of designer jeans at greatly reduced prices. Keep the wash minimal and dark.

Once you invest in these quality pieces, you could essentially make an entire wardrobe out of mixing and matching these items alone. However, we all know that we want to follow the trends and invest in some seasonal pieces.  Step back, if you were thinking of investing in holiday sweaters or pumpkin colored pea coats, that’s not what I’m saying.

Here’s the deal. Designers from Isaac Mizrahi to Proenza Schooler, Marc Jacobs to Michael Kors, Vera Wang to Keenan Duffty are doing lower cost versions of their famous styles at popular retailers. Many of these designs are available in Northwest Arkansas. The difference between the couture shows and the straight to department store lines is the quality and handwork. For instance, Marc Jacobs may sell a couture gown from his runway for twenty grand. However, he also does a lower cost line at popular stores. The big difference is the materials aren’t as luxurious and the tailoring might not be as fantastic. However, if you’re on a normal budget, you can’t afford those couture looks. Therefore, what’s the problem with buying the lower cost items, especially when they may go out of season rather quickly?  Once you get those basic year-to-year staples, here are the essentials for this fall.


1)    God, I hate to say this, but, metallics are back! Now I know that that might be scary, but be aware that the metallics this season are much simpler and have more effective treatments that tame them down.  Marc Jacobs and Gucci showed tons of metallics in their respective lines. Last season, it was all about a metallic accessory, but this season, you see entire dresses made out of metallics. It’s a hard look to pull off.
2)    Boy cut is huge this season. Prada is showing a ton of boy cut outfits in navy and gray. The idea is to take a men’s look and tailor it to fit a woman. In the past designers would instill a feminine touch, here and there, however this season, they are showing very tailored, very long, very masculine styles. White House/Black Market and even GAP are showing store versions of these looks.
3)    VOLUME IS IN! I can’t stress that enough. However, be very careful with this. You don’t want to look like a beached whale, however, with the new styles, you should be able to wear volume without the fears of looking heavy. The key is mixing and matching. If you are wearing a voluminous top, pair it with slim or skinny bottoms. If you have super wide leg pants, pair it with a fitted top or sweater. Volume doesn’t mean chunky. You can have, and should have, lots of volume with thin or even sheer fabrics.
4)    Work with your accessories. Get rid of those huge suitcase bags from three seasons ago. Proportion is very important with accessories. If you are a thin girl, a huge bag can eat you up. However, if you are curvier, a big bag can balance you out. Keep this in mind with other hot accessories like hats and jewelry.
5)    Come up with a nice balance on shoes. Acrylics are big this season as are modified wedges, however, it’s hard to work a strappy sandal or full fledge woven wedge in October, so give it up!
6)    BIG COLORS: Navy, gray, gray tweed, deep purple, and jewel tones.


1)    Texture, Texture, Texture. Mix and match those textures. If you have a pin-strip suit, put a subtle plaid shirt underneath it with a paisley tie.  Pick up any Details or GQ and you’ll see this trend taking over fashion. The key is to keep two of the three patterns very subtle. Look at the new lines from Ermenegildo Zegna.
2)    Those super holy bootlegs can probably go. You’re not in a frat anymore. Let go of your youth and use your investment piece jeans as a staple to build on.
3)    Tod’s is showing fantastic metallic sneakers this season. Problem is, they are $500. However, Converse is showing metalics for $75. Popular companies like Nike and Adidas are showing styles with heavy metallic influences. Dressy sneakers can even be worn with suits for going out.
4)    I shouldn’t be able to read your thoughts. Save the message tees for home or casually going out with friends. Yes, they are addictive—
I have lots of them. However, it’s beginning to look dated.
5)    Look for super fine knits like skinny ties, sweaters, scarves (Target does a great cashmere line around November), and vests. These will keep you from overcooking, but will keep you warm enough.
6)    Find yourself a good quality man-bag. Perhaps a laptop holder or briefcase in a fine material. Enough with those across the shoulder college bags that make you look 14.
7)    Find a style icon that is appropriate. Stop trending after David Beckham (YOU ARE NOT DAVID BECKHAM) or Ashton Kutcher (YUCK). Find a style icon that mixes business and casual, trendy and classic, professional and playful, like Roger Federer, Justin Timberlake or Jeremy Piven. They are all button pushers who manage to do it with a bit more class and style.
8)    BIG COLORS: Navy, gray, gray tweed, white, black, cream.

Now the thing is—it’s often hard to get away with some of the things mentioned above in Northwest Arkansas. We are far removed from the city.  However, just like Meryl explained in “Prada,” we are all touched by fashion, whether we like it or not.

Just remember the basics:
1)    Make your piles, 2) Purchase your upscale year-to-year staples, and 3) Remember the trends when purchasing your seasonal finds. They are often not expensive and you can find lower priced designer lines at popular retailers.

Most of all, remember everybody’s body is different and it is essential to dress for yourself, your body and your age. You can take the navy and gray trend, the metallic trend and the black/white, navy/white trend and find ways to make them work for you, even in Northwest Arkansas.

Categories: Legacy Archive