Playing Dress-up

For fall, the look is elegance inspired by yesteryear

August 22, 2004|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Upstairs in your grandmotherM-Fs attic, in a dusty trunk she long forgot, fallM-Fs fashion was born. Designers rummaged through, it seems, and found in that sweet little old ladyM-Fs packed-away wardrobe a treasure trove of inspiration.

Fitted, tweed jackets. Ribbons. Long skirts. Lace. Fur collars. Brooches. Velvet trim. Gloves. Cashmere sweaters. Satin. Dainty cardigans. Chiffon.

This fall, the designers said M-y breathing in the satisfying smell of mothballs M-y women will play dress-up again.

And so now we have it; for the fall season, the era of head-to-toe dressed down is no more.

No more low-rise jeans and skimpy tanks every day of the week and on weekends, too. No more beachwear in the office, or gym clothes as party gear.

In fact, fashion observers say, more is more this season. Sexy doesnM-Ft mean baring it all; sexy now means covering it up.

M-tThe biggest trend of the season is really about a return to a very feminine, retro-inspired form of ladylike dressing,M-v said Gregg Andrews, NordstromM-Fs eastern region fashion director. M-tThereM-Fs a lot of inspiration from past decades M-y from the M-F30s, the M-F40s, the 1950s. And there are even some subtle references to the 1980s.M-v

The broad range of eras to choose from seems curious; after all, each of those decades was marked by very different styles. How can the fashion trends of the M-F40s blend with the M-F80s? Or the M-F50s with the M-F30s?

Keeping it sweet

The secret is this: Designers didnM-Ft find themselves drunk with the sweet scent of GrandmaM-Fs cold cream and pressed powder while they foraged through her trunk of goodies. Instead they methodically pulled out for fall only those items that had one adjective in common.

Pretty.

M-tThings had gotten very sexy, bordering on trashy, for a while. And also sort of hard edged M-y a little bit punk; a little bit street,M-v said Hope Greenberg, fashion editor for Lucky , a popular shopping magazine. M-tAnd like anything else, the pendulum has to swing back. And pretty came back in.M-v

Just about every item of womenM-Fs clothing has been touched by girlie-dust. Jackets are cinched. Skirts are flouncier. Shirts are softer. Pants are becoming more fluid.

The suggestion is sexy but demure. Softer, gentler, classy, sweet.

M-tIt is one trend, but whatM-Fs good is there are a lot of ways to get that look,M-v Greenberg said. M-tOne is the return of vintage. But itM-Fs not that grungy trend. ItM-Fs M-fprettyM-F vintage, very ladylike. A lot of embellishment, beaded cardigans, cashmere twin sets, Chanel-like tweedy jackets, car coats, chiffon bowneck blouses.M-v

Even the classic power suit has been shot with a dose of estrogen.

M-tThe colors for suits are moving toward the soft, feminine colors, getting away from the menswear, or the seriousness of the black suit,M-v said Betsy Dugan, owner and buyer of Octavia in Pikesville. M-tIf youM-Fre going to do a serious suit, itM-Fs going to be in a chocolate as opposed to a black. And even if itM-Fs not color in the suit jacket, youM-Fre still wearing a pretty, pink pin or a pretty, silk charmeuse blouse or scarf.M-v

For professional women, the fall look combines pretty and powerful M-y traits that no longer are viewed as mutually exclusive.

M-tIt just makes everyone feel good as a woman, and that itM-Fs OK to be a pretty woman and a powerful woman too,M-v Dugan said. M-tThereM-Fs more acceptance now of women in the workplace, and thereM-Fs just going to be more and more of us as time goes on. So why not be beautiful and powerful in the workplace?M-v

Little things are big

And there are more details this fall, even on the details M-y lots of non-traditional stitching, fun buttons, buckles and ties. Sequins, rhinestones and shimmery-shiny things.

M-tShine is a very important trend for the season,M-v Andrews said. M-tAnd so is decorative embellishment. A satin or a charmeuse blouse or top [is in]. WeM-Fre seeing metallic in shoes and handbags. The brooch, in most instances, has got some type of gem-like stones in it.M-v

This fallM-Fs ladylike theme may be troubling for many of todayM-Fs young women, who have been used to dressed-down, tomboy, hip-hop and athletic gear for season after season.

Pairing a brooch with your fitted, corduroy jacket? Maybe. But throwing a faux fur shrug over a satin blouse, tweed skirt and gloves? The thought of it could send many women running back to the storage bins for their tank tops and Juicy low-rise jeans.

But fashion experts say this seasonM-Fs ultra-feminine look can be achieved without coming across like Barbara Bush M-y all white-haired, blueblood, Chanel-and-pearls.

M-tI donM-Ft think anybody is ever advocating wearing a head-to-toe trend. You have to incorporate it into your wardrobe in a way thatM-Fs comfortable for you,M-v Greenberg said.

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