IT’S HARD TO RESIST the blandishments of fall fashion. I don’t know how many of you are actively shopping, as opposed to wearing what you have and waiting for Columbus Day sales. I myself am going on an outlets excursion (trends, if they are at all wearable, no longer seem to vanish after one season, so even if the goods aren’t new, they will still look reasonably fresh). I am also counting the hours until Jil Sander’s next Uniqlo collection arrives in October (see my May blog post in praise of her well-priced designs, “Shopping Diet: Maintenance Version”).
Meanwhile, I’ve been scanning the latest style rundowns in various print media and attempting to scope out (1) what’s chic at my age (hint: it’s not winter shorts) and what’s for lanky teenagers; and (2) what’s got staying power and what’s likely to show up at TJ Maxx’s or Marshalls’ bad fad corner (not that they call it that).
ANIMAL PRINTS: Again? Still? I was raised to believe that these were in bad taste. I remain leery. They’re better if more abstract, less literal.
CAMEL: Makes me look yellow, but good for you blondes out there. Remember: To avert humps, do your weight work, take your calcium, and get regular bone-density scans.
FLATTER, CLUNKIER SHOES: Anything that stabilizes me is great. I like that man-style oxfords are back; I can also live with a low wedge. Some of those thick platforms and stout high heels are a bit too Wicked Witch of the West, though.
FUR: Forget it. For so many reasons. Fake? It can be okay, but I feel the same about it as I do about “meat” facsimiles made of soy, etc. (I’m a vegetarian). I’d rather wear real wool or cotton than ersatz mink.
LACE: Gets my vote. So fragile, so flattering, so eternal. Take the curse off any potential cuteness by wearing it with something tailored or really casual (e.g., black jeans).
METALLIC: I am not unalterably opposed to embellishment or shine: I own some coppery flats. But it takes a really good eye to wear this stuff in broad daylight (all too easy to look as if you got dressed the night before, perhaps in the dark). At an afternoon movie recently I saw a 70-ish lady in white slacks, carrying a large quilted gold bag. I told the friend I was with to shoot me if I ever showed up with one of those.
MILITARY: Remember when scrub suits and prison jumpsuits were popular? The associations (surgery; incarceration) no doubt accounted for their brief life. Although things that smack of uniforms make me equally queasy—war is hell, and it’s heartless to turn it into fashion—military styles are apparently immortal. I concede that multiple pockets are handy, and that olive drab and khaki are great neutral colors. Just go easy on the camouflage prints and epaulets.
PLAID: Wonderfully evocative of Scottish kilts and elementary school. Make sure the cuts are not collegiate (pleated skirts, blazers). Ever-discreet Tim Gunn had on a tartan tie in one Project Runway episode this season.
RETRO: Maybe there’s nothing new in fashion anymore, only clever retreads (“Art is either plagiarism or revolution”: Gauguin). The 1950s—not, in my view, the acme of chic—still reign. Mad Men-style silhouettes with tiny waists and full skirts may suit people who are built like that. I am not among them. Brigitte Bardot’s name is coming up a lot lately, and for those of us who are, as they say, endowed, it’s good to have more room at the top. But low scooped tees and deep v-neck chunky oversize sweaters and come-hither gingham…nope. I’ve been seeing some truly scary décolletages in the subway. Repeat after me: I am attractive. I am shapely. But I am not a sex symbol.
WILD & CRAZY HOSIERY: If you have good legs, go for it. (Besides, it’s an inexpensive way to individualize and update those black clothes we all own.) I’m not a fan of fishnets (too chorus-girl) or anklets (please!), but bring on the striped socks, rich-colored opaques, textured knit or cobwebby lace tights, and pantyhose in pinstripes, herringbone, or other menswear patterns.