Do the Right Thing The most stylish move may be the one you decide not to make

September 24, 1992|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Staff Writer

"Your mother wears combat boots!" was once a slur against that sainted woman's attractiveness and justifiable cause to fight for her stylish honor. Don't fight; just bite the bullet. Combat boots are the last word in fashion. Chanel has done clunky black lace-ups with a gold-plated toe and heel plate to sell for $1,000 plus. Dolce & Gabanna do them up in silver to peep from beneath a frothy evening skirt. And you were worried about platform shoes?

Keeping up with the fashion pack isn't easy. Just when you think you have it together, the tastemakers throw a monkey wrench and assorted nuts and bolts onto a suit and call it high style.

These are particularly difficult times for the woman who wants to keep in step. Proportions and attitudes are changing. While women are willing to give the long, narrow skirt a try, they also want some assurance that it has some wardrobe longevity. The menswear look has new appeal, mostly because it is a fresh change from the perky fussiness of a few seasons past.

But don't turn your wardrobe upside-down just yet. Think about it.

* Don't buy a long, skinny skirt unless you have the elements to make it work. A long skirt will not work with a boxy boyfriend jacket. It will not work with pumps with a flirty heel. It will not work unless you define the waistline. It will not work at work if you have to unzip or unbutton it to there to be able to sit or walk.

* Don't buy anything red until you read the signals. Red is the one shot of strong color in this fall's pallette, and ads and magazines are shouting the curative powers of a jolt of crimson. Red Alert! Seeing Red! You've seen them, so have all your friends and neighbors. Think ahead. Will you be a droplet in a sea of red at the office holiday party? At best you would blend in. At worst you could all look like a casting call for picture-with-Santa helpers.

* Don't buy platform shoes unless you have the other elements. They will not work with short skirts. They will not work with stirrup pants or oversize tops. They will look wrong unless they underscore a long, lean line.

* Don't even think of putting an animal print on your feet or legs. You'll look as if you forgot to don the rest of the costume for the PTA production of "Cats."

* Don't buy anything with huge shoulder pads. It's tough to give them up cold turkey, but stick to a narrower silhouette.

* Don't say good-bye to short skirts yet. You have at least two seasons to get the long look right.

* Don't wear a man's suit unless you can look most of the men you know straight in the eye. Jacket, trousers and tie need a tall attitude; anything less looks like a burlesque.

* Don't buy anything that looks as if it was borrowed from a biker unless you can kick start a Harley. Nothing sadder than biker babes wearing tummy-control hosiery.

* Don't close your mind to change, but make sure it works for you.

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