Fashion is in big trouble. Labor Day is over and we're just getting the itch to shop ... maybe. After all, what's in it for us?
As a postmenopausal fashion expert and the former fashion director of two major women's magazines, I attend the runway circus known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (the next one begins Thursday in New York City).
Let's be honest. Runway shows are about editors hooking up with advertisers (for financial partnerships), stylists hooking up celeb clients with designers (for freebies), designers hooking up with backers (so they can keep going), and buyers struggling to revive a sick industry that has become too costly, too extreme, too big. No one is truly interested in the 50-plus woman except big-name luxury designers we can't afford. So here we are, the moneyed superhero consumers with our changing bodies, lifestyle, tastes and needs. No wonder we buy more shoes and bags than clothes. Take fall 2013. We're skipping: punk and military (again), needle-toe single-sole stilettos (obviously), leather leggings, giant cable sweaters, anything plaid (all fattening), big-shoulder coats and long mid-calf skirts (been there, done that), capes and oversized clutches (impractical). Which leaves five items calling our name. Here's what may be worth it:
A LADYLIKE LEATHER-ISH SKIRT. Designers love leather for its edge, and so do we, but rising prices have forced more faux leather and wax-coated leather-like fabrics into the mix. OK with us. A knee-length skirt in a pencil, knife-pleated or a A-line style is a good buy. It's refined but confident. I bet FLOTUS Michelle O shows up in one of these this fall.
Zara gold metallic pencil ($139, zara.com/us, ref #2969/245) or Zara coated polyester/viscose pleated skirt ($79.90, zara.com/us, ref #6861/244)
A REAL PAIR OF PANTS. We live in jeans and leggings, but a fresh pair of tailored pants adds instant polish for work and evenings out. To step it up and add warmth, buy one or more pair of narrow ankle-cropped pants. They look great with a long T, a sweater or turtleneck (new again, so dig them out!). Or, for a fresh pantsuit alternative, wear them with an untucked blouse or shirt under a blazer. The bonus is that they work with both flats and low heels. Go for gray, red or pink instead of black this season.
J. Crew Cafe Capri in wool ($128, jcrew.com) in pink or gray or J. Crew Eaton Boy Trouser in Bi-Stretch Wool ($148, jcrew.com) in graphite or red
THE NEW PRACTICAL (BUT FUN) SHOES. Shoe shopping is where we get our fix. Now we don't have to give up comfort for style.If you love flats, choose low ankle-cropped boots, updated loafers, pointy-toe flats (more shoe-like than ballet versions) and lace-up oxfords. For a little lift, choose ankle-cropped booties with substantial cone, block or wedge heels. Look for metallics, animal prints, suede and leather combos, color-blocking, buckles and chains for extra bite!
Vince Camuto Velino booties ($129, zappos.com), Nine West Riguma wedge booties ($129, zappos.com), Nine West nude patent pointy-toe flats ($69, zappos.com) or Coach Mara Slip-Ons ($198, zappos.com)
THE MIXED MEDIA SWEATER. We have enough cardigans and V-necks to last forever, but we like the combo of feeling cozy and looking cool. This fall a big store and retail website trend is the bi-textured sweater cut slim and sleek, slightly relaxed in an A-shape, or shorter in front longer in back with a droptail hem for coverage. The leather-wool combos have the most appeal and won't be a one-season buy.
Bailey 44 Software Faux Leather-Paneled Sweater ($191, saksfifthavenue.com) or J. Crew Merino Leather-Pocket Sweater ($158, jcrew.com)
THE CHIC MAN-TAILORED TOPCOAT. This is really where the menswear trend makes sense for us. Get a topcoat in skin-boosting camel or ivory or (all hues are big trends within a trend) and use your layering skills to style-up warmth. It'll look new with those jeans, your cropped pants, and with dresses or skirts.
Asos Knee-Length Overcoat ($143.45, asos.com/us) in camel, Lauren Ralph Lauren Belted Wool Blend Wrap Coat ($340, nordstrom.com) in white or Theory "Elizabeth" Wool Blend Coat ($675, nordstrom.com)
And don't give up: Shop flash sales online as the season rolls out for discounts!
For more beauty and style tips for women 50-plus, see my book The Wardrobe Wakeup, Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson ($16.29, Amazon.com)
Photo Credits: Runway photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors; Zara Metallic Skirt; J Crew Cafe Capri in Wool; Nine West Pointed Toe Flats; J Crew Merino Leather Pocket Sweater; Asos Knee Length Coat.
Also of Interest
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- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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