To find out what you really must stock your Fall wardrobe with this season, we podcasted from Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC with Michael Fink, Vice President & Women's Fashion Director of Saks and Avril Graham, Executive Fashion & Beauty Editor at Harper's Bazaar. Mastercard is sponsoring Bazaar's 30 Days of Fashion (which even includes yours truly!) - a treasure trove of daily giveaways, tips and treats throughout the month of September. And Michael's insider dish and fall fashion must-haves are but a click away at Saks.com. Check out the podcast to get the expert scoop and advice on fall fashion, where to splurge, where to scrimp...and why you need some "textile snobbiness" in your life this season.
A TAILORED DRESS "There is a return to tailoring and sophistication this season. A tailored dress is the basepoint of every woman's wardrobe this season," explains Michael about fall's ladylike, Jackie Kennedy shift-dress silhouette. "The great thing about a tailored sheath dress is that it can give your wardrobe personality. It's the thing you can build around," agrees Avril. "You can buy an amazing shoe or bootie that is really the season's must-have accessory - whether the boot has studs, fringe, super high-heels, platforms, or a slightly pointed toe - and you'll know that it's going to work with that basic fabulous tailored sheath." (Try: Oscar de la Renta's tweed shift )
MASSIVE NECKLACES "Something we haven't seen for quite a while are these big, bold necklaces that came down all the runways. It's such an easy item to translate into any woman's wardrobe," says Michael. Get something really big, inventive, colored stones, crystals, big architectural pieces and that will just pep up anything you already have in the closet." Both agree that whether you're rocking vintage or something new, it's the single statement piece that will modernize everything in your closet - even a classic white shirt. "It's really a wonderful way to make a statement for day or evening. It's an easy asset for anyone." (Missoni stone-embellished necklace)
TOP-HANDLED BAG If your budget means you can only buy one thing this season, Avril advises replacing your slouchy-pouchy hobo with a ladylike top-handled bag in a yummy fall tone of aubergine, putty, camel, dark green, or chocolate. "Whether your budget is $55 or $55,000, pick a top-handled bag and know that you've got an on-trend must-have." And if you just can't break your black bag habit, then at least opt for one with some sex appeal - be it studs, lace, or visual interest. "But even with black, look for shine, a crackled finish, or some hardware that really lifts the black up," adds Michael, "so it's not just black anymore, it has some character to it." (Chloe Cyndi bag)
BANGIN' BOOTIES "Whether it's the shoe bootie, the scrunchy boot, a mid-calf, or an over-the-knee boot, we think the boot is the most important shoe of the season," says Michael. "We love them with high heels, stilettos, stacked heels, flat...we love them all. It's really about a boot wardrobe this season. And it looks fantastic with every single item in your closet." (Rupert Sanderson Kit Kat shoe-boot)
A SENSATIONAL SHIRT No longer just for secretaries or 80s working girl throwbacks, the bow-neck shirt is a pretty way to freshen up for fall - provided you proceed with a healthy dose of fashion-forward. "If you're wearing a bow shirt, it shouldn't be too conservative. You don't want to look like Margaret Thatcher," warns Avril. To avoid looking like you're running for office, try a feminine and pretty version with non-boho ruffles (a la Madonna), and look to designers like Thakoon and Phillip Lim who create some of the best versions, especially paired with an edgy boot or accessory. And don't forget the right attitude "It works best with a downtown edge because you don't want to look precious," notes Michael. "You want to look like get outta my way!"(Roberto Cavalli flower print blouse)
...AND FOR FASHIONABLE FELLAS Make friends with the pattern of the season for men. "Plaid anything," says Michael, "whether it's a plaid shirt, a plaid sportcoat, or a plaid suit. But keep it small and sophisticated, because you don't want to look a clown or you're out golfing." Try wearing your new plaid shirt under a suit, which promises to "put you light years ahead of everyone in your office." Another fun is a vest. "A lot of young guys are wearing a vest as a jacket. But try a separate vest - you don't want to wear a matchy vest with your suit." Lastly, bring your puffer to work. "That puffy vest that's normally reserved for weekends? Layer that over your suit on your way to work. It's right off the runway, it's really practical, and it's easy. It's kind of like you made a mistake, but it looks really good." (Try: a plaid cotton buttondown from Etro)
SHOES & LBD As his fave splurge, shoes are at the top of Michael's list. "There is so much inherent value in a well-made shoe. You're going to have it for quite a while, and even when you get tired of it, it goes in the back of the closet, but sure enough, it comes back. That's my favorite splurge of any season." And even though he is a self-described "freak" for color, he advises hunting down the perfect LBD. "If you need to invest in a little black dress, this is the season to do it. With the tailoring that's going on and all the classic silhouettes, this is the time to pick up your replacement little black dress. It's the perfect season for that, and available at any pricepoint."
TAILORED FIT With whatever tailored piece you add to your wardrobe, Avril advises thinking of it as an investment. "That tailored piece should look really, really good on. That's where to think about spending your money, to have that piece you know is going to be in your wardrobe 10 years hence. Your shoes will change, your bags will change, but if you've got something that's got that longevity, I think that's worth the splurge to make sure that it's cut just right, just perfectly." (3.1 Phillip Lim lace patch dress)
STATEMENT NECKLACES For finery on a budget, look no further than grandma's closet or perhaps a tag sale. "If you have to tweak a little on the budget, that's the place to do it. Look for vintage for your statement necklace to find something unique that no one else has. It's all about costume."
BABYDOLLS If it's too voluminous, it needs to go. "If you are still wearing babydoll tops or A-line dresses, put them in the back of the closet! Those need to go away for a while because we really are celebrating the natural shape of the body, curves and all, with a longer, leaner more tailored silhouette."
BIG PANTS While it's a great season for trousers, not all pants need apply. "No-no moments include a very flared pant, as well as a bootcut pant," says Avril, giving cigarette pants the green light, as well as, yes - pleats. "It hearkens back to the 80s, but it's actually kind of a yes, in particular the Yves Saint Laurent pant with a tiny peg and a slightly shorter length that skims the top of a bootie." And what of the unusually proportioned Marc Jacobs pant? In addition to getting the accessories exactly right and cut of the jacket (cropped, not long), if you're in a conservative profession, are curvy or perhaps height-challenged, give this trend a miss. "It doesn't hide, it emphasizes. You need the right figure to pull it off - it can look immensely chic if you're tall, but otherwise has a bit of a sloppy quality." (Marc Jacobs velvet jumpsuit)
FAB FLORALS, NOT PAINTERLY PRINTS "The painterly splashes we saw were very much the print of the season, but obviously that's a summer look, so put that back in the wardrobe," says Avril, and switch them out for a lighter, more natural floral a la Michael Kors. "Florals for winter turned out to be one of our favorites," agrees Michael, "but what makes them look relevant to the [colder] weather are a dark background with a more realistic print that's smaller in scale as compared with spring's florals which were totally oversized, exploded, and very two-dimensional." For the best result, look for high quality, home decor like fabrics with a romantic, rather than vintagey, feel - a quality he dubs textile snobby.
- Lesley Scott
(Oscar de la Renta runway photo via style.com)
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