Fall… ing For Fashion

Reds, tweeds, velvets, wools hot this season

By Wayne Bell

How could you miss it? It sits on the newsstands with the pompous arrogance that we all love … Vogue. Every August, Vogue releases its September issue and every fall, we are all treated to 600 pages of fashion supremacy. You remember Vogue, don’t you?  The Mecca … the fashion bible, the last word. Vogue doesn’t report on trends as much as it sets them. Vogue can make or break a designer with one column of praise, or look of distain from its editor-in-chief.

Oh, the editor-in-chief … you remember her, right? Repeat after me … Anna Wintour. The queen of Vogue, the queen of Conde Nast media, the queen of thrift? OK, well maybe not. In fact, there is nothing thrifty about Wintour or her publication. And yet the September issue of Vogue states proudly on the cover: “584 pages of stylish steals and smart splurges.” Vogue is giving recession proof fashion tips. Who would have thought?

Truth be told, what else are they supposed to do? Many designers had to cut out their spring fashion shows in Bryant Park, and simply show them online. Companies are going out of business around the country. Magazine subscriptions are so low that it’s hard for any publication, let alone an ungodly expensive one to produce such as Vogue, to survive. And for the first time this year, designers aren’t handing their clothing over to magazines, stylists and celebrities for events and award shows because the cost to do that is just too high.

Now before we all slit our wrists and imagine Vogue showing the new lines at Old Navy, let us realize that the “100 great steals” section highlights $499 throw pillows and $300 lipstick. Only in Wintour’s world would a $325 pencil cup be a steal.

What we can learn from this is that the fall fashion trends may have very little to do with the hot colors and fabrics of the moment, and more to do with the cold economy. That being said, fall is the best time of year. There is no argument. In fashion, fall rules. It’s time to put away the slutty dresses and strappy sandals and fall back on the stylish tweeds, beautiful dresses and platforms.

Of course, fall can be difficult in Arkansas. Just about the time we decide to break out the fall clothing, we will have an Indian summer. Just about the time we get used to short sleeves, a chill will come through the air.

However, when that chill finally comes, with it comes a little slice of fashion heaven. Tight waists, beautiful rich colors, tweed suits, scarves and our own little piece of Americana sportswear. Imagine those images of equestrian sheik from Ralph Lauren or even the hotly debated grunge beauty of Marc Jacobs.

Fall sets the pattern for the rest of the season and ushers in winter and the holiday rush. Therefore, from a fashion perspective … fall rules. There are ways to enjoy the hottest trends of the season this fall, without truly breaking the bank. And of course, my suggestions do not include a $450 pet leash. Oh, but I wish they could.


Fashions from Something Urban

Like A Damn Blood Bath

Yes, after teasing us for a few seasons on the runways and at the Oscars, red is finally earning its keep this fall.

Dior and Michael Kors are showing stunning red dresses that will have women swooning. However, one can go red without going wrong red. The general suggestion is that the red you select has to go with your specific coloration. For instance, if you are fair skinned with orange undertones, orange reds may be very hard to pull off. On the other hand, can you think of anything more lovely than a dark burgundy or black cherry this fall?

When looking for red, keep in mind a few things:

1) You can’t wear red head-to-toe. You are not a tomato.

2) If you wear a red dress, you cannot wear red shoes.

3) Nothing looks better than head-to-toe black with gorgeous red shoes.

For some local inspiration, try going thrifting at The Attic, Cheap Thrills or the Samaritan House. I saw a red Prada blouse at Cheap Thrills not too long ago. Repeat after me, Prada.

However, if thrifting isn’t your thing, try some of the local boutiques or even the many large department stores we now have in Northwest Arkansas. This year affordable and obtainable fashion is taking the front seat at Target, and designers are jumping to get on board.

Now here comes the disclaimer: Razorback memorabilia does not count. I don’t want to see one embroidered sweatshirt or tacky Razorback quilted vest. Now in reality, I will probably see plenty, but let us remember, there are plenty of classy ways to support the team.


Wear bold accessories with simple clothing

Dress Like You Live In The Hamptons

OK, well maybe that’s easier said then done, but fall is the perfect time to bundle up. This fall, try wearing some things from your wardrobe that maybe you haven’t had out in a while. Stretch to the far ends of your closet and dig out the heavy tweeds, velvets and wools. This season is all about warmth and comfort. You don’t have to buy tons of new things to achieve this look. Imagine the beauty of the Ralph Lauren look. That classic American look that features riding pants, boots and a classic white shirt. How can you update that into your everyday wear? A killer pair of boots paired with some straight leg jeans and a beautiful while blouse should do the trick.

The rules are gone for eveningwear. You aren’t required to wear a cocktail dress every time you step into Theo’s. Find fun and exciting ways to put these Americana styles into your wardrobe.

If you are going to invest in something new, make it fabulous like a natural fabric sweater or beautiful jewel-toned cashmere scarf. These are fantastic ways to update a look that can be a bit softer (and cheaper) than jewelry.

When I think of classic Americana I think of the warm and utilitarian outerwear popular in Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons and Cape Cod. There’s something so beautiful about the aesthetic of classic and simple American sportswear.

This season, try incorporating rich jewel tones into your wardrobe. A touch of purple or a splash of pumpkin can go a long way with a boring dress. Just remember to not overkill it. My suggestion would be to get the classic black dress out of your closet, have it hemmed and updated, and then pair it with a jewel toned bag, scarf or shoes. This season, I would stress reuse and repurpose more than buy, buy, buy. However, if you must buy, make it the more affordable pieces.


Fashions from Something Urban

The Boot Is Back And The Suit Has Changed

Tweed and wool suits are always stunning in the fall and winter. However, there is a new trend to be aware of. I remember writing a fall fashion story a few years back while sitting at La Maison and stressing how the sharper your suit, the better. I stressed having your suits fitted to an inch of their lives.

However this year, women’s suits have taken a large step towards American men’s wear. The silhouette has become much more exaggerated and elongated. Jackets look bigger, fuller and softer. Pants have wide legs and recessed pockets. The look for fall is inspired by the men’s suit, and all power to it. No doubt Diane Keaton is thrilled that she had the right idea all along.

Much like the suit, the boot is back. Boots are such a gorgeous way to update your wardrobe and to be fair, with the right boot nobody cares about what you are wearing. For fall, I would always suggest that if you are going to wear a statement boot, wear quiet clothes. It’s one or the other.

This season everyone from Monolo to Chanel are showing gorgeous boots that almost look utilitarian for a change. Gone are the frilly boots with useless application. This season, there is a distinct buttoned-down, military influence and that can be a very good look on lots of body types.

I’ve already seen some really great shoes and boots for fall in local stores. So get out there and get them, before they’re all gone.

Mad Men And Mad Women

Well it should come as no surprise that Banana Republic is showing the “Mad Men” collection this fall. And quite frankly, who could blame them? Every Sunday night I am glued to AMC to watch the popular drama, and in the back of my mind I am looking at the clothes.

The iconic styles of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and early ‘60s have made a great return. Even Vogue is touting that the ‘40s are back.” The gorgeous dresses feature cinched waists and long hems. There’s something so glamorous about what we don’t see. There is nothing sexier than seeing the busty Joan romp around the set of “Mad Men” in her pencil skirts and tight sweaters. Why? Because it’s all about the tailoring: It’s well tailored without looking vulgar.


Fashions from Fayetteville design house Ultra Studio

And For The Boys

Go to a tailor. I am so sick of seeing men roll through Fayetteville in badly fitting clothing. Your clothing doesn’t and probably shouldn’t be expensive, but it doesn’t have to fit badly. I love Yanez Alterations in downtown Springdale. That man has been doing fine work for years and can take your wardrobe to a whole new level.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk. I hate seeing men in tweed and gray with black shoes. Boring. Find yourself a fashion icon like Roger Federer, David Beckham or Hugh Jackman and focus on what they do right. It’s all about mixing and matching to achieve that European sophistication.

In the end, the game of fashion has changed. We can all wish the economy hadn’t affected things, but it has. Top notch designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford have to reconsider their options for couture. Perhaps the days of excess are over, but then again, we will always have Anna and her $100 pencil cups and $300 lipsticks.

Categories: Features