Take Five! Fashion: Key elements can help you retool your fall wardrobe.

September 05, 1996|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,SUN FASHION EDITOR

There's no ignoring fashion this season. Proportions have changed so dramatically that this fall's hot styles do not live happily with holdovers from the '80s. Women who have been getting by with minor adjustments for the past few years will have to make a turnaround if they want to stay in step.

That turn depends less on a totally new wardrobe, however, than thinking about the new long, clean and narrow essentials.

Significant purchases now have to be edited with an eye to tomorrow, which means finally letting go of shoulder pads, stiletto heels and fussy girlie suits.

Those classic investment pieces women already own are going to need a hit of something sleek and unexpected to keep them alive.

Keeping in mind that no woman is foolish enough to shop a seasonal wardrobe from ground zero, here are five key elements that define today's style. Some can be married to update existing pieces, others need to go it alone and shout trendy.

Pants: The look of the moment is based on pants, so the issue of hemlines is virtually moot. Not just any pants make it. They have to be flat in front and arrow narrow. The pantsuit is the new office uniform for career women and it embodies the best fashionable qualities: it creates a long and narrow silhouette, it's comfortable and it can be dressed up or down.

Designers showed pantsuits in everything from traditional pinstripes to stretch satin. Buyer beware! A mod pantsuit cut with a lean tapered leg and close-bodied jacket is an investment. If you already own a boxy blazer/pleated trouser combination by all means wear it, but buying one now is a step back.

Knits: They've graduated from the workout wear department to designer salon. Knits are a natural choice for streamlined design with built-in motion. Double-knits, the substantial stuff of your mother's old Kimberly suits, have been revived as has that self-same look from the early '70s. Synthetic stretch knits are also being cut as separates and evening wear. The appeal of knits is that they hold their shape without cumbersome inner construction.

On the flashier front, synthetic and shiny disco inferno shirts are the shirts to have.

Leather: It's not just for rebels now that heavy metal hardware has been banished from this season's styles. They're less dominatrix and more designer with total suit looks in clean seaming and tailored details. Browns and naturals are the coming colors although polished black is still strong.

Prints: Op and pop patterns have been revived in orange/purple, fuchsia/green and other hot pairings to add the spice to dressing now. Animal prints, which seem to stalk in and out of the fashion scene every three years, are back with a roar.

Instant hits: The new heavy and squared-off heel keeps tight pants, slinky knits, leather and leopard from becoming too-too Peg Bundy.

The turtleneck replaces the T-shirt as the-wear-with-everything foundation.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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