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Anything Goes

From meticulously tailored pantsuits in unexpected patterns to vintage coats and feather accents, pick your battle this fall.

Gucci light blue-black long hair goat cape collar, light blue Persian lamb skirt, gold booties, all available at Gucci/South Coast Plaza

By-the-bookers beware: This season is not one that will give you any hard-and-fast rules for fall fashion. What little guidance there is goes something like this: Consider raiding your grandmother’s closet; channel 1980s Madonna; and when in doubt, go glam.

This is good news – a break from strictures of the past proselytizing on that season’s must-have wear. This fall, whether you go with the ’40s or the ’80s (or even the ’13s, as in 2013); structured or unstructured; glam or grunge, you’re going to be on-trend. Like we said: You can’t go wrong.

There is, of course, a small caveat: While there may not be any rules per se, there are general themes to take into consideration, should you be so inclined.

Embellishments are big this fall, both figuratively and literally. Large gemstone details on coats, ornate embroidery and beading are finding their way onto everything from dresses to jackets to handbags. And edgy embellishments reminiscent of battle more than comfy domesticity are also on the rise (think: leather harnesses, chain mail and armor). The message is strength, but not of the brute force variety. Look more closely and you’ll find feminine details everywhere – little bits of lace, a strategically placed floral element, a shock of feathers.

The strength theme carries over into luxe fabrics as well. Heavier weaves such as brocade, a practically indecent amount of leather and ever-politically incorrect fur is everywhere, making appearances in dresses, pants, coats, and all manner of accessories. Woven into these are a hefty amount of metallics, but not just in gold – silver is making a comeback as well.

Patterns are also a large presence this season. One general rule: If you could have inherited it from your grandmother, you’re on the right track. Paisleys, large floral patterns and oversized tropical tree leaves (imagine drapes from 1940s South Beach) are the background for skirts and feminine pant suits, which have been softened by removing the shoulder pads and adding tailored cigarette pants. The silhouettes are decidedly daintier than years past, with a glamorous vintage tilt and impeccable tailoring. Color blocking is still on-trend – a throwback to the 1980s, a decade whose fashion resurgence seems to be lasting as long as the decade itself (but nota bene: the ’90s are reportedly next – as if!). Chief among the patterns, however, is plaid. Tartan trousers, dresses, skirts, and shirts are being paired with fitted moto leather jackets and chunky oversized scarves – the perfect defense to the beginnings of a chill in the air.

As for color, richness defines the overall feel. A departure from the jewel tones of last year, this year’s hues are of the earthier variety, but not by much. Shades of blue (mainly turquoise and teal) are the protagonists, with plum, evergreen, warm reds, and classic black and white the extras. Try them – or patterned variations thereof – in one of the season’s hottest pant trends: the harem. Or, for the less bold (or simply those who revert to the fetal position at the mere memory of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”), experiment with fall’s hues in the soft pant, a relaxed fit, somewhat slouchy option that, when worn correctly, looks simultaneously smart, casual and enviably comfortable.

But fashion, as with life, is all about balance. If you’re going to get away with relaxed pants, the top is going to tell a different story. Structured, heavily tailored jackets are the outerwear must for fall, and anything body con is still hot. That being said, if you’re going with sleek cigarette pants, oversized coats in astrakhan and other cozy fabrics are the counterweight of choice. Peplum, that flattering, waist-defining overskirt, is going strong into this season. Look for it in solid colors and in pretty patterns on skirts, dresses and tops.

Footwear is following in the sure footsteps of the strength premise, in shapes that connote ability and power. The heel is lower and chunkier than last year, and the utilitarian bootie is the crowning touch to many of the season’s looks. Whether embellished with military details or flirty flower trimmings, polished to a high shine or given a pointy toe, they’re the one shape you could get away with all year. That, or the over-the-knee boot – your choice, of course.

Photographer James Cant
Stylist Jennifer Smit at Aubri Balk
Hair Brynn Doering at Aubri Balk
Makeup Lisa Strutz at Aubri Balk
Model Blake Myers at Next
Digital Operator Joanna Miriam
Stylist’s Assistant Sarah Mosqueda
Location Aliso Beach Park

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