My darlings, today’s article is written by the lovely Andrea Pflaumer. An author and fashion guru, Andrea is here to share all about fall fashion trends. Should you buy them or is it best to merely admire them? Let’s find out!
Let’s Hear It for Fall Fashion
New fashion trends can be so enticing, especially when worn by any of many fabulous fashionistas on Instagram. I’m talking about those snakeskin booties, the oversized herringbone “boyfriend” blazers, the moody florals on puffy-sleeved dresses; the leather trench coats; and of course, everything leopard.
Put the right person in the right outfit and you could almost convince anyone to wear anything.
But do they work for you or can they be adapted to work for you? Let’s break down some of the latest fall fashion trends in terms of style and analyze for whom they might work and why.
We’ll start with snakeskin, leopard and zebra stripes.
The Wild Jungle
This is a huge trend this year in both clothing and accessories: leather and suede (real and faux), snakeskin, crocodile, zebra, and especially leopard abound. They are raw, real, and elemental. They represent a bit of danger.
Since we are human animals, we are probably attracted to them on some subconscious level. And with the rising of midlife women in the public eye, we are inspired to show the world just how much ferocity we still have in us!
On an aesthetic level, most of these skins and animal prints do, in fact, work for most women.
The key is choosing the right scale for the pattern and the refinement of the print. The smaller your frame, the smaller the pattern should be; the larger your frame, the larger the pattern can be. Regarding the color of the print or skin, always check the background hue. A lighter, paler background creates more of a contrast against the print. The stronger the contrast, the more it works best for someone with striking, cooler coloring. A warmer background is better for someone with warmer undertones in their skin.
So that means that zebra patterns work best on those who can wear black and white together and not be overshadowed by them visually. This print may not be as ideal for someone with more subtle or delicate coloring in their skin tone or hair. This is true for any animal print.
But here’s the good news: you can get away with something that might not work as a larger garment if it is worn away from the face as an accessory, such as a pair of booties, a belt or a small clutch. Those can really snazz up an outfit and make it very fashion-forward. And you’ll likely find that you can pull the item out of your closet and wear it year after year!
You’re going to be seeing a lot of menswear, particularly blazers, for women this year.
They’re in gabardine, tweeds, pinstripe, Glen plaids and houndstooth–all the fabrics for traditional men’s suiting. Some are fitted and short, some are a little longer, and many are oversized. Oversized coats like boyfriend blazers reappear every dozen years or so. They reach farther down on the hip line and include exaggerated shoulders.
Pretty much anyone can wear a blazer unless they are extremely bohemian in their style. Oversized pieces work best for someone who is a bit dramatic or has a lot of quirky playfulness like Diane Keaton.
A one-button, shorter version can be worn over a feminine dress to make it more office-appropriate. You’ll also see blazers re-imagined in velvet with “le smoking jacket,” in sequins, with waist sashes and belts, with peplums shapes, single and double-breasted or just about any version you can think of. There’s just something for everyone this year!
The more traditional elements it has, the more classic the style will be. That means you will be able to wear your blazer for many years and with many seasons. And frankly, it never hurts to have a few classic pieces in your wardrobe anyway, regardless of how bohemian, dramatic, sultry, or girly the rest of your wardrobe might be.
Slip dresses are essentially the equivalent of wearing a long satin slip à la Jean Harlow in the 1930s. Current slip dresses are usually spaghetti-strapped, slinky, and side slit from the ankle to the knee. This kind of dress raises the question: am I willing to show that much skin or reveal the shape of my body underneath it?
Unless you are under 40, it’s a pretty risky fashion statement. But can you at least borrow some part of the idea? Absolutely.
Satin is a popular textile choice in clothing for winter and holiday gatherings. And you’re going to find a lot of it this year in more than just dresses. A pair of satin wide-leg pants with a complimentary top (see Sequins and See-Through below) can be a spectacular combination.
An off-the-shoulder dress in satin is elegant and works for many women over 40, 50 and beyond. That “portrait area” of the body, from the shoulders and upward, tends to look beautifully appealing even after you’d rather not show skin on other areas of your body.
Finally, there are satin blazers, taking the menswear idea to a flashier level. In fact, there are a lot of pretty flashy looks this year overall.
Case in point: sequins. Sequined jumpsuits, sequined wide-leg trousers, sequined short dresses, sequined long dresses, sequined pants and blazers (again, with the blazers), sequined camisoles, and blouses–you name it, it’s your year to be the disco ball! Depending on how much of it you wear, the length of your dress, and what you wear with it, it can be a stylish and fun trend for many women. Worn head-to-toe, it is pretty dramatic.
If you want to sparkle but don’t want to go all-in with it, there are some pretty gorgeous long-sleeved sequined tops and blouses available right now. And there are a lot of sequined camisoles. They are best worn under a jacket or with a matching sequined jacket. But sequins are also showing up in turtlenecks, cardigans, short and long-sleeved blouses, and even on organza tops. Which leads us to…
This might be the most challenging or at least the most controversial trend. Unlike the runway versions where you will see bra-less young women wearing them–we’re not going to even go there–there are a lot of more modest, yet still lovely versions of blouses and tops that reveal some skin but in a more discreet way. Generally, many of these are designed for holiday occasions, but not all of them.
A sheer, ruffled leopard top worn over a dark camisole can be a lovely way to combine two popular trends. In fact, many of these sheer blouses come with color-matched camisoles or opaque panels around the torso. Some have sheer fabric only around the neckline and arms. And one very charming look that abounds this year is a sheer fabric blouse overlaid with celestial images of sequined stars and planets. Choose how much you want to reveal and where.
We’re seeing a continuation of the florals that burst forth on the scene a year ago. Many, not all, have dark backgrounds and small flowers. This is where I have a problem with this trend. Smaller florals say youthful and innocent. Add fluttery, short sleeves and ruffles and you’ve got another layer of youthful innocence. Dark backgrounds say drama. Find me a woman our age who combines both those qualities and I have a lot of dresses for her.
Now, if you are fundamentally a romantic type, these dark florals might work just fine for you. But for romantics, look for one with larger flowers, particularly large roses on a dark background. A floral column or fitted sheath with a dark background, or even on a light background, on the right woman can look spectacular. But a lot of the delicate prints on less-punchy backgrounds can take one dangerously close to dowdy. They can even make younger women look dated.
The key to wearing any print lies in making sure you are wearing the dress or blouse and ensuring it’s not wearing you. Don’t take second place with your clothing.
Keys to Knowing What Works Best for You
These are just a few examples of what is new this season. Whether you can wear any one of them comes down to this: how does the cut and silhouette of the garment work for your body? How much does it harmonize with your coloring? And then, how confident do you feel in it?
If it takes you too far out of your comfort zone, if you feel inauthentic, then it simply won’t work, regardless of how lovely it might be on someone else. Looking at any trend in any season from this perspective, you can pretty much determine if it’s an admire or a buy.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Finally, one of my favorite techniques, and it’s what I recommend for my clients, is what I call The Mirror Test. When you see an item in a catalog, in a magazine or on an Instagram feed that catches your eye, look at it carefully. Don’t think intellectually about it, simply take it all in viscerally.
Then quickly look at yourself in the mirror. Look back at the item, and again back at yourself in the mirror.
If you feel a sense of congruity between the item and your own image, then it’s likely a buy! If you experience a disconnect between yourself and the item, it’s time to pass and it’s a no.
In that case, appreciate those for whom it works. That’s a healthy way to celebrate each of our beautiful differences.
Andrea Pflaumer is the author of two books: the Amazon best-seller Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Perfect Wardrobe for Every Woman: Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes, and the Over 50 and She’s Got Good Jeans – a guide for how to shop for and where to find the perfect jeans for your body and budget.
She does in-person and online wardrobe and shopping consultations for women worldwide and blogs at Shopping for the Real You. Her free course, Lazy Person’s Guide to a Perfect Wardrobe is available on GoHighbrow. Andrea hosts two video series: Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 and Shopping for the Real You: Expert Edition. She interviews women in the areas of fashion, beauty and wellness on her Shopping for the Real You YouTube channel. She is a regular contributor to several national and international publications for women over 50 and is presenting an online class this November through the American Institute of Image Consultants.
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