A few basic pieces can spruce up a wardrobe FASHION UPDATES

September 12, 1991|By Genevieve Buck | Genevieve Buck,Chicago Tribune

Chicago -- Want to look funky or sophisticated this fall? Understated or cutting edge? Whatever your fashion persuasion, here are 10 things that are sure to give a fresh look to your wardrobe.

How you interpret them -- how tight, how short, how bold -- is up to you. But, even one or two can do a lot to update.

Before we start, you might notice that color isn't among the Top 10. That's because color is a given. It's been a major force for well over a year and it's still out there -- brighter and stronger than ever.

So, now, our favorites for fall:

* Pantsuits: While some women have been wearing pants and jackets together as suits forever, the male-influenced matching-jacket-and-pants pantsuit is cutting-edge fashion, part of a somewhat subdued trend that is just taking off. Watch for it to get stronger in seasons to come. Big proponents: Naturally, Giorgio Armani, along with Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs in his Perry Ellis collection, Donna Karan.

* A skirt that moves: Everybody's talking about pleated skirts and they are indeed the fashion of the moment. But, if you think they're too ingenue or might be unflattering (why not try, though, before you come to that conclusion?), there are other skirts -- flared, gathered, A-lined -- that look new simply because they are not skinny. The princess silhouette, which will be coming on strong this fall in dresses, also has ease of movement.

* Down or quilted coats: These are not simply Eddie Bauer vests or jackets for skiing or watching football games. These are go-to-work, go-out-in-the-evening coats, spurred on by the most modern designer in Paris, Claude Montana. But there are others at less stratospheric prices.

* Stretch: Though it's certainly not new, stretch in its new forms is definitely newsy. Stretch in jackets, for example, not just stirrups, tights, bodysuits and catsuits. Stretch in large sizes (Liz Claiborne's Elisabeth line for women's sizes has cotton/spandex stirrups for $68). Best bet: Go for stretch velvet, most forward in ,, the stretch family of fabrics.

* Gussied-up legs. Colored opaque tights (to match or contrast your outfit) are going to be all over. Fishnets are out there for the adventuresome.

* Covered-up feet: Boots -- from ankle to thigh-high -- are a major trend, but our vote for real newness goes to the shoe that covers up a lot of the foot -- but is still a shoe, not a boot. Flat or high-heeled, plain or laced-up, these are very now, especially for evening, when a covered foot is unexpected.

* Something shiny: Gold is the leader, spurred on by Karl Lagerfeld's gold bodysuits or tights that he showed under everything from suits to chiffon skirts, along with Donna Karan's bodysuits and tights. But there are other ways to glimmer: Look for vests, jackets or trench coats in metallics, vinyls, satin (try it for daytime).

* Black: It never really went away, but the little black dress is in the spotlight again. What makes it new? Inserts of lace (a la Geoffrey Beene) or, a different shape, be it the princess silhouette or a full skirt.

* Motorcycle jackets: They'll be everywhere in every color and many fabrics (including corduroy and metallics). Best bet: Go for racy, authentic black. It will be around long after the biker-as-fashion-phenomenon passes.

* Gold rapper jewelry: Pendants on long chains, heavy looking, swinging, lively -- this jewelry will jazz up anything from a little plaid suit to a turtleneck and leggings worn with a denim jean jacket.

* Plaids: Two years ago, when Isaac Mizrahi went tartan happy, plaids had their fashion send-off. Finally, this season, they're everywhere. Really everywhere. So, like color, plaids are a given. You already have enough plaid? Try a small dose -- like a bag (Marshall Field's has some in lunch-box shapes) or shoes.

* Denim: If Karl Lagerfeld showed a mix of denim and tweed in his Chanel collection -- which he certainly did because you're already seeing the ads in the fashion mags -- dressy denim is bound to eventually take off (just as his jacket-and-tights look of several years ago has now reached practically everybody). But, this is still a bit adventuresome. Wearing denim vests, blazers, skirts -- even to work -- is one thing; that look is so acceptable that it's ordinary. But, dressed-up denim for work, lunch or an interview? Great for the fashion-forward, but keep in mind that this look may end up being very dated, meaning it's not an investment piece of clothing. You might want to wait for the knockoffs.

* Zippers: They're the detail of the season, although they've been coming on to the scene at least for a year or more. Adrienne Vittadini has lots of knits with zipper front closures, necklines, pockets, etc. But, also look for innovative ways with zippers: Anne Klein's A Line navy double-breasted blazer with horn buttons has surprise-short zippers at the cuffs of each sleeve.

* Assorted accessories: Gauntlet gloves; visored (baseball) caps quilted or other fancy fabrics; sunglasses in a bevy of new styles.

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