Style Points

For stylish students or working men and women, here's how to assemble a winning look for fall

August 26, 2007|By Tanika White | Tanika White,Sun reporter

Even those who aren't privy to the annual insiders' peeks at all the new designs coming down the runways of New York, Paris and Milan can look around for themselves and see that there are more than a few trends that will be big this fall.

Fashion experts call the season's bevy of style choices a good thing. Women - and men - they say, can decide which of the many trends works best for them.

But some, understandably, may find it all a little overwhelming.

Is volume in? Yes, but so are body-conscious clothes.

1960s influence? Check. 1970s influence? Check. 1980s influence? Check, check.

Skinny jeans or wide-leg trousers? Either will do.

Is this a season of dark neutrals, or a colorful one? Actually, it's a little of both.

"What's out, what's in - it's all relative," says celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, who has dressed some of Hollywood's top stars.

Lucky celebrities have Bloch and others like him to help figure out what's relatively in and what's relatively not.

What are the rest of us to do?

We asked some experts to help us narrow fall's fashion down to just a few must-haves. And just to make it even easier, we broke it down into three categories: Young women, working women and men.

We know. We're so helpful. Shop now. Thank us later.

Young Woman

For those blessed with flawless complexions and metabolisms that just won't quit, this is the season for you.

So much of fall is coming "back to the body," as the experts say - which means all those baby-doll and trapeze tops and egg-shaped bubble dresses are slowly taking a back seat. Instead, pencil skirts are back, corsets are in, as are slender dresses, skinny leg coverings (such as tights) and minidresses.

"It's not so blouson and baggy," says Andrea Kaplan, contemporary buyer at Octavia in Pikesville. "It's very sexy, sleek and beautiful."

It's also a season of bright "pops" of color, in accessories as well as dresses, jackets and even jeans.

"For the young people, they've actually brought back flavored jeans," says Toni James, owner of Katwalk Boutique in Mount Vernon. "The most popular colors are red, royal blue, hot pink and purple."

If pink jeans seem too fashion-forward, wear your color in a bright accessory.

"All the major designers are doing something neon," Kaplan says. "Neon green, yellow, purples. It can be a belt, it can be a scarf, it can be a bag. It's almost like a 1980s reference."

And don't forget the embellishments this fall. Studs, zippers, chunky stones, grommets and paillettes. Rope, rocker and motorcycle details - all are in, especially for the young woman who can afford to be a little daring.

"Up the glitz factor," Kaplan says.

THE MUST-HAVES

1) Anything in a bright color. Kaplan recommends a purple patent leather handbag or belt. James suggests Jordache jeans.

2) Embellished jeans or jackets. Leather is back in a big way. Motorcycle jackets, even in denim or cotton, look cool. Studs and shine are in.

3) Something sleek or short. Try a pleated skirt or a minidress.

"Minidresses over that black legging, so there's nothing vulgar or obscene, with a little bit of hardware on the dress," says Michael Fink, Saks Fifth Avenue vice president and women's fashion director. "I think that's a really great young look."

Working Woman

Fall's general trends speak to this sophisticated woman who can't live her life in embellished jeans and a corset top.

"I call it the three Ps," says Fink. "Polished, poised and put-together." This means there's more emphasis on tailoring than in recent seasons, more structure, even in accessories, such as handbags.

"It's tailored dressing, but it's not fuddy-duddy dressing," Fink says. "It's a cropped jacket with a high-waisted skirt, and an opaque leg. Take that right on down to the new shoe bootie or a fabulous high-heeled pump. When you go out the door, you're putting on your pair of gloves and a structured handbag. It's a long and lean silhouette; it's about being put together."

Adding a few years since college ended might also have added a few pounds. This season is a great time to show off those new (or not so new) womanly curves.

"People are really trying to show their femininity," says Sarah Logan, director of merchandising for eluxury.com, an online designer store. "A lot of designers showed beautiful, tailored pieces, making it about feminine dressing again. Especially Marc Jacobs. He showed a lot of throwbacks to tighter pants, slimmer trousers and lot of to-the-body shapes in dresses, which I think is good for women. It shows off curves and realistic proportions."

Finish your polished look with a funkier element - a high-heeled shoe bootie, which looks especially cool with black tights.

"Studded leather ankle boots are back this year," says James. "A lot of the designers are doing that. And even some of the lower-end designers are knocking off the higher-end ones to bring down costs."

THE MUST-HAVES

1) A slender dress, in either gray, black or a bright color.

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