Fashion Fall 2011 – Trends I Like

Fall fashions are my favorites- I like the colors, the fabrics, and the sense of getting back in focus, back to school or work, or rentrée at the French say (reentry). My next few posts will review trends I like, my favorite collections this season, and my least favorite fashions. I’m collaborating with Catherine G. at Inside-Out, and encourage you to look at her Fall Trends post for more on lace, menswear, and white collared dresses.

After a review of the September issues of Vogue, Flair (Italian), More, Real Simple, and the August British Vogue, as well as the Italian and French Vogue websites, I’ve spotted some trends I really like. The fall “look” is not just one look – there’s a range from the dominatrix in black look to lady-like in jewel tones look to masculine trousers and oxfords look. I think there’s something for everyone once the basic ideas get filtered down to Zara and H&M or the clearance racks in a few months. I look at the collections as inspiration and art, not pieces I’d necessarily wear.

My favorite trend is the midi skirt. As I’ve written before, I don’t like wearing skirts above my knees. The midi is great- it’s work appropriate as long as it doesn’t have a thigh high slit, one needn’t wear pantyhose, and it looks grown up. The variety of shapes shown on the runways was great. There were lots of pencil skirts, some flared (gored?) skirts, and some with interesting fits. I don’t like the ones with too much fabric or those verging on looking like those old fashioned dirndl skirts that flatter no one. I’m glad there is a choice other than short skirts or maxi skirts, which get caught in my office chair’s wheels or trips me while walking up the stairs. Speaking of walking up the stairs, the Donna Karan pencil looks great but it’s so slim it might be hard to quickly navigate the stairs without tiny little mincing steps. I couldn’t tell what kind of slit it had in back. A few examples I like below are skirts designed by Jonathan Saunders (cobalt), Gucci (rust), Roland Mouret (black), and Donna Karan (beige).

The colors from the fall collections I liked best are plum and its variations, claret and garnet, deep blues, and rust. Saffron* and emerald green were also used a lot. There are some wonderful neutrals, too – see Catherine G’s blogpost here for examples of pretty blush clothes and accessories. The rich purples and rusts in the first photo below are sumptuous. I could add a rust scarf to my plum sweater and a tweed skirt to have a similar effect. Céline’s saffron* cocoon coat would sure brighten up Portland’s grey winter days. The deep blue Versace is so beautiful and not at all what I think of when I hear “Versace.” The Gucci plum (mulberry?) dress is a pink I’d actually wear.

*The spice saffron actually consist of reddish-orange strands; once it’s heated and added to water it turns this yellow color.

Another trend I really like is the variety of shoes in the mid-heel and flat range. Both ballerina flats and brogues (also referred to as oxfords and richelieus) are still going strong. I’m long past the time in my life when towering high heels seem like a good idea, and comfort and the ability to walk 10 blocks in any shoes I buy are requirements. Not that I could buy these shoes but when the styles filter down to real life brands, it’ll be nice to have more choices than stiletto high heels or wedge high heels or ugly “comfort” shoes. Below are shoes I like for real life, from left to right: Miu Miu spectator Mary Janes, Maloles booties, Miu Miu cherry red Mary Janes, and Fendi wide heeled pumps. The oxfords are from Phillip Lim (cheetah) and John Fluevog. I can imagine wearing these with a slim pencil skirt and v-neck sweater.

My next post will focus on Miu Miu and Elie Saab, and Catherine’s post will focus on Donna Karan and Michael Kors.

I used photographs from Style.com, HarpersBazaar.com, and Vogue.uk.com and designer’s websites.

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Chasing the Elusive Skirt

I’m on a mission to find cute works skirts that aren’t too short. Though I still feel young, my physical container has changed over the years – there are wrinkles, scars, noticeable veins, and the effects of gravity on my flesh. This means my knees are no longer prime body parts to show off. I have nothing against short skirts but they’re no longer for me unless I’m in a very casual setting or if I’m wearing tights, which I don’t do if it’s warm. (Yes, I’ve been in Portland too long- I’d have never gone bare legged to work in Texas.)

My search for just-below-the-knee skirts has not been very fruitful. I typically buy my work clothes at chains like Ann Taylor or J. Crew but they don’t often sell skirts long enough to wear to work, and haven’t for a few years. I love boutiques and vintage stores, but not much luck there either.

Dresses are likewise just too short. I’m about 5’8 with long legs and a short waist. I have no interest in dirndl skirts, elastic waist skirts, or tee shirt material skirts. I don’t mind skirts that reach my knees but really, 3 inches above the knee for work? I don’t want to look like a hoochie mama.  Maxi skirts are fun for casual times but not for work. I have a professional job, and as much I like wearing pants, I also want to wear skirts that are attractive, well-made, and  just below my knees. And not matronly. Is that so much to ask?

Professional librarian that I am, I decided to research this issue of short skirts. Am I just being whiny or unobservant? Is there there an insidious plot to sell more self-tanning lotion? (I’ll save my why-is-pale-skin-so-horrifying rant for another day.)

I decided to check the websites of the places I shop for work clothes to see  just how pervasive this short skirt trend is. I browsed the skirt category on each website, counted the total, and looked at those that definitely come below the knee on the model:

Ann Taylor– Out of 37 skirts, there was only one casual maxi skirt.

Banana Republic – Out of 34 skirts, there was only one casual maxi skirt.

J. Crew – Out of 29 skirts, there were 2 formal long skirts.  Pretty but not work attire.

Anthropologie – Better odds here – out of 51 skirts, 11 are long maxi skirts; alas, they are not work appropriate.

Talbots – Out of 29 skirts, 2 are below the knee and look work appropriate. That is, until I click on the navy blue one  which is made of terry cloth! The other one, shown below, looks cute but it’s linen and I have to think about the work ironing linen entails.

Linen Skirt from Talbots

There were three other skirts that just graze the middle of the knee but I’d have to try them on to really see if they’re long enough. I used to think of Talbots as matronly but I found the cutest tweed skirt this winter there, and realize they’ve been improving their style. Really!

So, out of about 180 skirts, only 4 or so are work appropriate for me? Listen up, retailers. You could make some serious cash if you paid attention to your customers. I don’t like shopping online, so don’t point me to your website with tall sizes. How about carrying a few of them in your brick and mortar stores?