Fall is about luxury, warmth and beauty. Femininity has returned to the world of women's fashion, and designers are celebrating it with sumptuous looks. There are elegant stoles for our shoulders, cashmere sweaters to place next to our skin, and long, full coats to wrap up in.
Everyone is talking about gray, heralding it as the new black. It's no longer the shade of doom and gloom, but a vastly expressive hue that can look soft, steely or strong.
Hemlines have fallen, with skirts now often nipping the ankle. Necklines - particularly the cowl and funnel - look fanciful and new.
But fashion this season may best be summed up in the details. There's embellishment in clothes for day and night - from the beading on a cardigan to the fur trim on a collar.
And after years of heels, flats are back. What we lose in height, we gain in comfort.
So, bring on September's song. We're dressed and ready.
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT
If you're buying only one piece this fall, here's what area fashion experts recommend:
Patti Cumming, regional public relations director for Bloomingdale's in Washington:
A gray suit. "What we like to do is make it pop with some color - a yellow sweater, red shoes."
Nancy Chistolini, senior vice president for fashion and public relations at Hecht's: A cashmere twin sweater set. "It's a great alternative to the structured jacket."
Sally Jones, owner of Jones & Jones in Cross Keys:
A sweater set with a bit of beading or a slight metallic. "It's the way to do evening in an understated way."
Carolyn Moss, fashion director of ready-to-wear for Macy's, East Coast Division:
A long skirt in something neutral like charcoal gray or black.
Carmen Aseron, fashion coordinator for Nordstrom, East Coast Division: A long skirt, below the knee to floor length, with trouser detailing, in gray.
Betsy Wendell-Dugan, owner of Octavia's in Cross Keys: A sweater set. "You look put-together, but it's comfortable and ... very versatile."
Robyn Fischer, owner of the Red Garter in Pikesville: A long coat that ends anywhere from the knee to the floor - in wool or microfiber.
Nicole Fischelis, vice president and women's fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue: A gray suit or dress, which looks best when paired with contrasting textures, touches of embellishment or a shot of color.
Ray Mitchener, buyer-manager for Ruth Shaw in Cross Keys: A gray, straight-legged pantsuit in flannel or pinstripe.
Shelby Sabetti, manager of fashion for the Store Ltd. in Cross Keys: A textured black knit dress that's long.
Nancy Lattmann, owner of Stuff & Stuff in Pikesville: A longer skirt. "I love the look of a long suede skirt."
Sima Blum, owner of Trillium in Greenspring Station: Something fur - shawls with fur trim, a marabou boa, a sheared beaver collar on a sweater.
! Pub date: 8/23/98