Eclectic Fashion Mix for Fall

The ’80s are over—again. After a few seasons of pure nostalgia, designers have decided it’s time to sample fashion in the present tense. But they’re having a hard time agreeing on what that means.

Styles for fall and winter range from chic and somber black to Connecticut preppy, to ’60s-influenced “mod” styles. The eclectic mix had few dominant themes, but most designers did favor one thing: classic, clean-cut items.

A few ideas carried over in full from last season, including leather and military looks. Olive drab and other military greens are still strong, but—in a departure from previous seasons’ trends—the color dominating today’s runways is black. Gucci designer Tom Ford credits the somber state of the economy for this return to black as the predominant neutral. Others simply missed the sharp-edged chic the color lends to various styles.

The fashion press, however, noted that designers were finally listening to retailers and consumers and producing clothes in colors that will sell. Along with black and green, the other favorite color palette is a takeoff on the reds that have been strong for the past year. This year’s interpretation draws on the deeper shades, from burgundy to plum.

For accessories, jewelry was slightly less prominent than in the past several seasons, largely because of a restrained mood that reflects the worldwide economy. That’s not to say that jewelry is absent from designers’ vocabularies; rather, the styles of choice—like the clothes themselves—show sleeker lines than in past years. Much like luxury fabrics (leather and fur) and accessories (boots and belts), jewelry is still a strong component of the fashion mix moving into 2002.

The ones to watch. Among the items and styles to keep in mind for the season:

Military looks. Jackets and coats are going double-breasted thanks to the influence of Navy pea coats. Trench coats showed up in nearly every collection, and bomber jackets and military jackets—with their shorter cuts and plentiful zippers—were strong themes. Olive drab and other military greens were prominent, and, for the fashion forward, camouflage remains a favorite.

Asymmetrical looks. Again, dresses and blouses featuring one sleeve, one shoulder, and off-the-shoulder cuts were abundant.

Connecticut preppy. Several designers, including Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, interpreted the “old money” classics with equestrian themes. Reminiscent of a country estate, preppy styles are classic, timeless, and salable. Included among the looks are riding breeches, turtlenecks, tweeds, plaids, riding capes, and hunting jackets.

’60s mod influence. Harking back to the London of the Swinging ’60s, fall and winter fashions feature some daring and sexy looks for the young-at-heart, including the return of miniskirts and baby doll dresses. The latter have abandoned sweet pastels in favor of black and taken on a tough edge, courtesy of zippers and corset-style built-in bras.

Borrowed from the boys. Masculine suits with strong-shouldered jackets—especially the tuxedo—are strong influences on fall and winter fashion.

Keep it simple. Despite fashion’s new eclecticism, “anything goes” is not the guideline to follow when accessorizing the clothes with jewelry. Forget sweet and feminine for a while, and think twice about anything too ornate. For now, fashion demands understated glamour in both classic and modern interpretations. Examples include:

Sleek lines. Drop earrings, lariat-style necklaces, and bold geometrical rings.

Classic styles. Hoop earrings, pearl classics, and button earrings.

Bold sculpture. Cuffs and collars and metal-intense sculptural rings.

Masculinity. Cufflinks and studs are not just for men.