Mix 'n' Match
What's hot for fall? Depends on who you ask -- and who you are.
Fall Fashion Photos
story by mary cashiola
photography by justin fox burks
illustrations by greg cravens
Elegance Meets Everyday
When Isabella manager Jamie Stimpson was asked what was hot for fall, her answer was decidedly wise for the fickle world of fashion. "It depends on who you are," she said.
Stimpson, for instance, is a jacket person, so it only stands to reason that her favorite things for fall are the 1970s-inspired jackets that are proving so popular. For the most part, the jackets are knee-length, button-up, and, following the fall trend for opulence, incorporate a fur trim or floral embroidery. A jacket, Stimpson says, can really make an outfit.
Isabella is the most casual of three stores owned by Cara and Robby Fromin, carrying an assortment of jeans, sweaters, and other gear for the weekend warrior. But even her customers are getting into the luxe look this fall. The only thing is, it's not a grand dressing-up: Most people are bringing elements of elegance to the everyday.
"People like to buy something that will go with jeans or a skirt. They like to buy things that are versatile," says Stimpson. "They want to have a wardrobe that they can mix and match, rather than wearing the same thing all the time."
It's not just Stimpson's customers who are experimenting with contrasts. Most people have their own personal style -- even if, paradoxically, that means having no style at all -- but the days of the set uniform are over. Perhaps it's a result of the flagging economy, the slowly fading casual-Friday phenomenon, or simply newfound artistic expression, but the look for fall features contrasting colors, fabrics, and styles.
Who would have thought, for instance, that the girliest of colors and the earthiest of colors could play so well together?
"Pink and brown is really big for fall, especially worn together," says Stimpson. "Brown is always a good color for fall and women love pink, so it's a good mix."
Vicki Olson of What's Hot adds burgundies to the color story, and Lauren Walton of Lost In Paradise adds lavenders. "Brown has been big for a long time," says Olson. "It's something everyone seems to wear easily. It's almost as if it's the new black." (Because those are feminine colors, we feel we should tell you right now that green is a big color for menswear. Not that men can't wear pink. They can. We just know some of them are not metrosexual enough to handle it.)
Olson also likes mixing things up in her own wardrobe. "I personally love taking a dressy top and putting it with jeans and stilettos."
What's the advantage? Well, for one, you can wear your most comfortable jeans (or maybe your tightest, who knows?) to parties where jeans once were taboo. The second advantage is strictly economical.
"People want to have fun with their clothes," says Lisa Estes. Estes opened Muse in September to give the downtown crowd an inviting, yet edgy, place to shop. "The economy is still not great, so if you can add that one special piece to update your wardrobe, it makes you feel good about your purchase, your wardrobe, and yourself."
But it's not just about dressing up jeans or dressing down skirts. Walton says there are a lot of contrasting textures this season. "What we're seeing," she says, "is something of a rough fabric shown with something very soft, like a lace. We have a pair of pants where it's more of a cotton twill and you have a satin ribbon for a belt, so there's a lot of mixing. There's one skirt that's almost like a blanket and the top is lace. It's a very different feel."
Walton's favorite thing for fall is anything that has a mandarin influence: silk prints, brocades, Asian-inspired embroidery. And, again, there's that "go-anywhere-do-anything" feel.
"I really love the Asian coats. I would wear those anywhere, from evening wear to jeans. That's what's so neat about these coats -- they go from day to night," she says.
And maybe that's what it's all about: wearing whatever you want when you want.
And Olson says not to overlook the finishing touches. "I think the biggest new things are accessories," she says. "They really dominate the look." Scarves and earrings are dipping to new lows this season: the scarves skimming toe-tips and the earrings stretching toward shoulders.
"The long earrings are so cool," says Olson. "You don't have to save them for a special occasion anymore. We're wearing them everyday." Olson says she began seeing this look on television early in the year. Actresses and trend-setters are still wearing them, and it's been something customers have loved.
It's in the details for men's fashion too.
Joe Augustine, a buyer with James Davis, says that fancy pocket squares, turtlenecks, bias-cut shirts, and shearling outerwear are big for men. Another trend that is awfully familiar to women -- low-rise jeans -- has also jumped the gender gap this season.
"The industry buzzword is premium denim, which means $100, $200 jeans," says Augustine. "I can tell you what we think will be in, but you never really know."
Your shoe has a first name.
by susan ellis
I am wearing boots. Black, two-inch heels, ankle-high, zippers on the side. Nothing fancy, no embellishments like buckles or tooling.
But there is one bit of flair: My boots are named Anisette. I didn't name them. They came that way and I couldn't possibly tell you what is Anisette-y about them. On the same day I acquired Anisette I also purchased Taurus -- loafers with elliptical stitching where the hole for the penny usually is. Taurus, I get. Taurus is a bull; the shoes are leather. And one trait of the Taurus astrological sign is inflexibility. And these nifty little loafers are nothing if not inflexible -- so tight I can hardly get them on my feet. I hate Taurus. Taurus has let me down.
So how do shoes get named? For pete's sake, don't ask Converse. They recently announced plans to launch a sneaker based on one worn in the 1980s by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. That shoe was called Weapon, and since its latest incarnation has been upgraded, the company decided to call the shoe Loaded Weapon. They have contracted with five NBA rookies, including the Memphis Grizzlies' Troy Bell, to wear the shoe. According to a recent article in USA Today, Jim Hainey, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, objected to an item named after something that can kill, especially in light of the death of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy. Counters an ad rep: No one is likely to mistake the shoe for anything other than a shoe. Weapon is available for sale on the Converse Web site (Converse.com). (Please note that the "Loaded" part is nowhere to be seen.)
So how do shoes get named? They just do and they always have been, says Will Smith, owner of Cook & Love. He says the names are more for the benefit of the vendor. "Names are easier to remember than numbers," he says. So, instead of the salesperson going into the storeroom searching for 7349, he or she can simply find Molly, alphabetically placed, in a snap. Smith notes that some shoe companies have a definite order in how the product is named. Maybe this season's line all begins with the letter "S." "Stacy" may be a two-inch basic pump, while "Sally" may be that same pump but with a three-inch heel.
I also spoke with a representative from Wolverine Worldwide, which owns the Hush Puppies brand. She, ironically enough, begged not to be named. As she is not a covert CIA agent, I complied with her wish not to be outed. She agrees with Smith about why shoes are named and says designers are inspired by a lot of different things -- movies or certain themes or locations. The names in this year's Hush Puppies line bear this out to a degree: Flex, Trance, Meditation. But then there's Tomo, Blaze, Hampton, and Mandy II. (BTW: Hush Puppies' boot, Excursion, in a taupe faux-suede with wool cuff, is absolutely fantastic.)
Understanding the names of Wolverine shoes is a bit easier since they tend to be less about fashion and more about function. Let's look at the DuraShocks Electrical Hazard Steel-Toe 6" Work Boot or perhaps the Static Dissipating Steel-Toe Athletic Shoe. That's not to say, however, that Wolverine can't have fun: There's Zeus Chukka, Gabby, and Karleigh.
For the last word on this topic, let's go to Nine West. It turns out, designers have no say, according to this terse e-mail to my question about a sexy high-heel knockout that goes by "Doug." It read, "MOST SHOE COMPANIES LOOK AT THE SHOE AND NAME IT ACCORDINGLY. WE, NINEWEST, ON THE OTHER HAND DO NOT HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF DOING THAT. ALL OUR NAMES ARE FED TO US THROUGH A LEGAL 'NAME AUTHORIZING' DEPARTMENT. WE GET A LIST OF NAMES TO CHOOSE FROM, USUALLY NOT THAT GREAT A CHOICE, THUS NAMES LIKE DOUG."
How To Be a Model...
Or just look like one: one girl's quest for glory.
by bianca phillips
When I was 14, I dreamed of becoming a supermodel. Never mind that I was practically a midget. I figured I'd shoot up at some point, and if not, I'd at least be good for print modeling.
It started in my small Arkansas hometown with a radio commercial advertising a date when Barbizon modeling scouts from Memphis would be in town to hand-pick fresh new talent for their model-training program. The radio plug promised Barbizon professionals would "train you to be a model ... or just look like one."
When I heard the ad, I knew it was my calling. My best friend Sheridan, a big-breasted redhead, was a shoo-in, and I, the brown-haired fashionista, was told by a gentle, Tina Turner look-alike that I'd be a regular in skin-care commercials and shampoo ads in no time -- that is, as soon as my parents shelled out nearly $2,000.
In a few short weeks, we were students at the Barbizon School of Modeling in Cordova. Every other Saturday we'd attend sessions in makeup, runway modeling, print modeling, and etiquette. But it soon became clear this wasn't the route to supermodel stardom.
For starters, the leggy woman who promised me all those jobs had resigned by the time we arrived for classes, and a new modeling czarina had taken her position. The new instructor immediately took to Sheridan because she loved her long red hair, but she told me (who'd been promised skin-care ads) that I had an acne problem.
Then there was makeup class. In a room paneled wall-to-wall with lighted mirrors, the class was taught that eyeshadow extends all the way to the browbone and blush is a sharp pink line across the cheekbone. Now, I was no Mabelline queen, but this was the mid-1990s and the makeup techniques they were teaching seemed a little more Debbie Harry than Courtney Love.
If painting our faces to look like early-1980s prom queens wasn't bad enough, we were also forced to spend much time in front of those same mirrors practicing our print-model faces. Our instructor's advice: Look straight into the mirror and say the letters of the alphabet, pausing on each letter. Just imagine Kate Moss staring out from the pages of Vogue making her best "E" or "F" or "G" face.
About midway through the course, we had a photo shoot with a New York photographer. When some of the girls tried the alphabet technique, he laughed at them and politely asked what the hell they were doing.
The worst class, though, was runway modeling. I was constantly being told that I needed more spunk in my step. As an aspiring model, I had paid close attention to how models walked in fashion shows, and from what I'd seen, those girls didn't have much spunk either. These were the days when grunge and heroin-chic were hitting their prime. Models on TV looked more like death-warmed-over than spunky, radiant ingenues.
But wanting to succeed, I followed the teacher's advice and eventually mastered two signature Barbizon runway moves that make the model look like some kind of overly enthusiastic cheerleader.
You begin on the far side of the stage in some sort of model stance (for example, hands behind back, pelvic area thrust slightly forward). Then, you start your walk -- slowly, yet slightly bouncy. And then all of a sudden, you bust out a fancy trick step, like the "A-walk."
Here's how the "A-walk" goes (feel free to try this at home): In mid-step, pick up your left leg and thrust it out sideways, so that you're stopped with legs spread comfortably apart. As your leg hits the ground, thrust your left arm down to your side with palms facing behind you and fingers splayed. As you do this with your left arm, you'll find that your right just can't help but follow, and that's totally acceptable.
Now, pivot on your left foot and bring your right foot around, keeping legs spread and fingers splayed. This gives the audience a view of your backside. Hold for a few seconds, and then repeat the pivot move to face the front. Hold for a moment, then kick back off and continue your walk.
Cheesy as I knew it was, I made the "A-walk" my specialty. I performed it in nearly every routine, and our persnickety instructor came to love me for it. I even performed it at the Barbizon graduation ceremony, where I received my diploma.
But sadly enough, I never saw any of those jobs I was promised. A few weeks after graduation, Sheridan got an offer to be an extra in The Firm, but it conflicted with school so she had to decline.
As it turned out, Barbizon wasn't my big break after all. But the experience did help me break out of my shell a bit, and if nothing else, I can say I had a good time pretending to be a model. In fact, I think Barbizon should change their slogan to "You won't be a model or look like one ... but you can have a good time pretending."