Ever hear the saying ‘it takes a village’? Well a small village could actually live in The Row’s (established by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) knitted fall pieces they’re so enormous. Because no one really needs to wear a sweater this large, we recommend sizing down….a lot.
Enter the normal oversized sweater. Chunky without making you look diminished, this pullover flows effortlessly. Wear this with a clean tailored trouser. And as you’re shopping around for this look, remember: The sleeve should hit around your wrist and the neckline shouldn’t gape open. The piece should fit comfortably and flatter your face, chin and neck.
The overall length is really up to you but somewhere around the top or mid-hip is easiest to wear (longer lengths make pairing up difficult, so keep that in mind). The weight of the sweater is also important. Some meatier knits can actually get quite heavy and run the risk of overheating you. After all, comfort is the point.
Our pick: ZARA’S Knit Square Sweater, $79.90
How to Wear the Unwearable
Ever get the feeling that designers create fashion just for the fun of it? That perhaps they’re playing only to a cultish group of crazies that live for the ridiculous? Join the club.
So much of what we see on runways (assuming we even bother to look) never even makes it to stores. But somewhere along the way those extreme ideas get distilled into wearable, functional and stylish versions of the original. Here are 10 over-the-top looks from 2014 fall collections and their more palatable everyday versions to wear to the office and beyond.
Age-old dress codes like “you can’t wear white after Labor Day” are no longer true. Now we wear chiffon in the dead of winter and leather in the summer.
On a cool fall day, wearing white can be fresh and totally unexpected. British designer Gareth Pugh’s winter white head-to-toe ensemble is nothing if not unexpected. However, we don’t really need to take it quite this far to make a statement.
Wearing one, simple bold white piece is enough. We love this crisp, structured “sweatshirt” in a soft, spongy scuba fabric (which gives it this modern shape). Try this piece unadorned or with shiny, sculptural silver earrings. Keep the bottom neutral and equally unfussy and you’ve got yourself an updated winter white look that’s achievable.
Our pick: SUNSET & SPRING’S Alythea Scuba Sweatshirt, $58.00
A longer length skirt or dress can be a nice addition if you have mostly short and to-the-knee skirts in your wardrobe. Longer lengths are elegant and understated, except of course, if you happen to be wearing J.W. Anderson’s floor-scraping asymmetrical dress. Neither elegant, nor understated, Andersen’s gown looks more like an itchy wool blanket that someone mistook for an actual dress. That’s not the look we’re going for.
Instead we prefer this asymmetrically-cut skirt that skims the body gently and hits just below the knee. This skirt from H&M has a lovely fit that hugs the hips so it gives some shape without being aggressively sexy (key for maintaining a professional polish).
You can pair this skirt with practically anything. It also makes a great transition item from day to night -- just add a bare, sexy top if you’re going out after work. What you put on your feet, though, is key. For the daytime, we suggest a heavier, chunkier shoe or boot. It balances the look. For evening, a more slender, delicate shoe will work.
Our pick: H&M’S Asymmetric Skirt, $69.95
Most women I know don’t actively seek out the Michelin Man look, which is what you will probably look like if you’re wearing this kooky version of the much-beloved puffer jacket from Japanese designer Junya Watanabe. Don’t get me wrong, there are many puffer jackets that don’t have half the style and certainly not all the wacky details of the Watanabe, but it is possible to find one that will flatter while also keeping you cozy.
Cut like a preppy blazer, this fresh take on the puffer is neat and easy to wear. It’s light and sharp and won’t ever make you look like you are standing in a pile of rubber tires. You can even wear this as a fun alternative to the blazer over light layers.
Our pick: MANGO’S Foldable Feather Down Jacket, $69.99
The Tall Boot
New versions of tall, knee-high boots surface every fall and winter and this season is no exception. But unless you travel by spaceship like Dutch designer, Iris Van Herpen (just a guess) you’d probably be better off with a more classic take on the tall boot.
This black leather boot that tops the knee is a chic choice, ideally suited for the long-limbed among us. Perfect with a trim pencil skirt, the clean lines and smooth surface of this boot will look elegant all season long.
Our pick: ALTUZARRA FOR TARGET’S Over-The-Knee Boot, $79.99
This is one trend I’ll never quite understand. Do designers (I’m talking to you Dolce & Gabbana!) really think it would be great if all women were running around in giant panties instead of actual pants, bare legs and all? Let’s assume it’s simply for shock value.
If you like the idea of “short pants” that are actually pants, then a nice, clean-cut cigarette version like this camel pair can easily become one of your favorite go-to pieces. Beyond versatile, they pair perfectly with almost any top or jacket and the abbreviated length actually elongates the leg thanks to the tapered hem and exposed ankle.
Pick a pair that fits easily across the hips and thighs (trousers should never pull or be skin-tight). The cigarette style is best when they sit at the waist or just under the belly-button with no saggy bits. They also work well with nearly any shoe -- just avoid styles that cover the ankles. You don’t want to eliminate one of the key benefits.
Our pick: RIVER ISLAND’S Camel Slim Cigarette Pants, $70.00
Super Sized Single Earring
Accessories can make or break any outfit and Celine’s British fashion designer, Phoebe Philo, rarely, and I mean rarely, gets it wrong. To her credit, she has singlehandedly spearheaded the minimalist movement, creating extraordinary luxe collections absent of unnecessary bells and whistles which bring the women back into the focus instead of the clothes overpowering the wearer. For fall, however, she did give us one prominent bell and whistle in the form of a super sized, single earring with enough jingly-janglies to adorn a Christmas tree.
Supersize it all you want, just wear the pair (keep your top fuss-free), or risk looking like a Cyndi Lauper throwback -- in a bad way.
Our pick: J.CREW’S Parisian Earrings, $85.00
In a surprising move, designers have brought one of the most delicate, special-occasion-centric fabrics out of the closet and into the daylight. Lace in all its iterations is finally getting its due by becoming one of the major trends. As pretty as it is, it’s tricky to wear unless it appears as a trimming. British designer, Simone Rocha proves that unlined lace is more than daring, it’s plain unwearable.
Like the long-sleeved lace top we selected, the essential ingredient to wearability is the right underpinnings. What’s wonderful about lace is seeing the skin through the fabric highlighting all the swirls and curlicues of the design. But unless you’re parading around in your boudoir then lining your lace pieces is a must. A lace top like this works with tailored menswear trousers, it makes a perfect contrast, or with a sharp, knee-length skirt. If you’ve got a decorative top it’s best to avoid overkill on the bottom so keep the other half minimal.
Our pick: BANANA REPUBLIC’S Lace Pullover, $79.50
For newsworthiness, Jeremy Scott’s first collection for Moschino was an unstoppable hit playing off the house’s M-Moschino logo with those famous yellow arches of McDonald’s. But unless you live on the runway, extreme logos are best left to the twice yearly international parade that is Fashion Week.
Our suggestion is to go anti-logo. After all, you’re not getting paid to be a billboard. Consider these looks as a mutable base for whatever signature accessories or colors you choose for your own stamp of individuality.
Scarves have become the cornerstone accessory in all our wardrobes, no matter the weather. Not necessarily chosen for warmth or protection, scarves are turning into the new necklace for fall. So while we’re always on the hunt for something interesting and individual, Marc by Marc Jacobs’ silk scarf goes beyond that to something slightly more ridiculous and kitsch. I’m all for different, but not if that includes looking like I’m half-human, half-zombie.
Take cues from Marc Jacobs and try a bold graphic print scarf like Lucky Brand’s Cleobella silk scarf in contrasting black and white. The abstract pattern will lift any solid and neutral you wear and the triple tasseled ends give a fun twist without looking wacky. It’s a guaranteed way to liven up your look without going over-the-top. As long as the scale suits you (it should never be too much fabric for a small woman or too tiny a scarf for a taller woman) and the colors flatter, go for it.
Our pick: LUCKY BRAND’S Cleobella Silk Scarf, $59.90
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