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Fall/Winter 1998, Part 2
Wardrobe Tips  4 to 12

by Judith Rasband, Conselle Institute of Image Management

The Conselle Trendsletter provides you with a lengthy update on fashion and image trends. It offers an evaluation of what’s available, what works, what doesn’t, and why. The information will aid you in deciding what to adopt, adapt, or avoid before feeling tempted or pressured to buy. Presented within the context of all 12 Wardrobe Strategies, coverage relates to wardrobe management and is complete in scope and sequence, making it a valuable learning tool.


Continued from FASHION TRENDSLETTER, Fall/Winter 1998, Part 1 Wardrobe Tips  1 to 4

Wardrobe Strategy #5 Rely on wardrobe neutral colors -- dulled or muted  tones of every hue, as well as black, white, and gray -- adding bright accent colors for interest.

"Oh no, not gray again," you might mutter. Yes, gray is back in the spotllight, replacing black as the favourite wardrobe neutral and ranging from soft pearly tints to shades of charcoal. Black, winter white and camel are always important, appropriate, and available options. Red is a headliner for day into evening. Grayed blues, purples, and pastels are turning up in many collections, as well as metallic colors.

As is typical, there are more muted wardrobe neutral colors available in winter wear and fewer accent colors. Virtually every color, however, is available in one garment or anothr. If you buy the current pea coat or jacket in gray or navy, pair it with white trousers and white buck shoes. The look is outstanding.

"Tone on tone" is a popular fashion phrase used to describe an outfit in a monochromatic mix of fabrics head to toe -- tints and shades of a single hue in similar intensity. It becomes interesting when fabric textures are varied. To make it work, one fabric just be dominant and all others be subordinate or less important.

Forget the old rule about shoes and stockings having to be the same color as the hem of your skirt or slacks. Sometimes repeating that same color can be too much or appear too contrived. Sometimes, natural looking stockings are exactly right. Sometimes, wearing white, or ivory stockings makes exactly the fashion statement you want. Whatever you choose, do relate shoe and stocking color to the color scheme of your clothes.

We're seeing, this season, unrelated blue, aqua, and teal opaque stockings pictured with suits and dresses in black and duller shades of gray, and brown. They don't work. There's nothing to pull the colors together. And because the stockings are conspicuously lighter and brighter, they call too much attention to themselves and appear uncoordinated.

Another loser is the look of black opaque stockings or tights worn with white, light colored, or animal print shoes. They fight for attention and appear top-heavy with the lighter shoes. Put the white shoes away for the winter -- unless you're a bride. Then opt for natural or matched stockings with your tan, taupe, or gray toned shoes.

Wardrobe Strategy #6 Rely on all-season fabrics -- light-to-medium-weight woven and knit fabrics -- adding seasonal fabrics as needed.

Fabric continues to drive fashion trends for the fall/winter season. Heavier, winter weight fabrics are described as "textured, rich, plush, and luxurious."

Headliners include plush wool, boiled wool, crunchy wool, felt, fleece, chenille, boucle, and blanket-like blends. Sweater dressing relies on narrow to wide-ribbed knits in wool, cashmere, mohair, and angora -- with cashmere in the lead.

Perfect for evening, sheer is layered over sheer in a dress and satin is used in a circle skirt. Costume looks previously described introduce beading and embroidery to further enrich all season fabrics.

Unexpected, eclectic, fabric mixes include the heavier velvet with lightweight georgette and dressy velvet with casual denim. To make it work, in each outfit one fabric must be dominant -- used in the largest amount with less of the other. You might see a delicate sheer blouse paired with a crunchy wool vest, a denim dress with collar and cuffs in velvet, or a full-cut velvet blazer over a denim shirt.

In some cases, sportive heavy -weight tops overpower and conflict with the mood of dressier sheer or beaded skirts. A corduroy peacoat doesn't work with a metallic or sheer evening gown. An alpaca jacket over a sequined skirt does work. Consult with a mirror. A popular mix for the season combines a tailored looking, medium-weight wool business suit worn with a lux-textured or beaded shell or tank top. They work.

Going further, high art and high tech come together in fabrics as futuristic technology allow manufacturers to fuse previously incompatible textures such as tulle and mohair, silk and boiled wool, or jersey knit and plastic. Some combinations work well while another just looks dumb. But the options are exciting.

Fabric manipulation goes to extreme in what tends to be the puzzle of the season -- padding. I doubt many women are going to go for stuffing their hips in a puffed-up skirt or padded dress with Velcro closure. Like padded shoulders, however, padded vests and jackets just might make hips look narrower by contrast. Try it on and consult the mirror.

Fur is in the spotlight once again and following the fashion down the leg. Mink turns out to be the favorite fur. The newest treatment is shearing. Fur jackets are sheared for a less bulky, more casual look. Simply styled, they even look right with crisp looking jeans.

Strategically placed, fur of all types is being used to trim jackets and coats, often paired with a matching sleeveless dress or buttery suede and leather pants. Suede and leather sound wonderful, but sleeveless in the dead of winter never seems to make sense. Suited to the weather, fur turns up in neck warmers, mufflers, mitts, and "doughnut" circles that sit on the shoulders. Faux fur is politically correct and still an option.

Wardrobe Strategy #7 Rely on classic patterns -- in small to medium scale prints, stripes, and plaids -- adding a trendy pattern as advisable.

The classics are out there, with menswear pin stripes, houndstooth, herringbone and tweeds making headlines for women. Find a pattern of colors you love and use it to inspire the color scheme for an outfit or a whole cluster of clothes.

Floral prints come small to large, some so large they overwhelm a small figure and others so widely spaced the look spotty. Again consult the mirror with a "blink test". If you don't know what a "blink test" is, get a copy of the "LookChangers" video, available from Conselle.

Some fashion retailers are pushing the look of mixed patterns in different garments, but many don't work. The pieces may have colors in common, but one pattern is often too dressy for the other, too big for the other, or both patterns fight to be dominant. The result is confusion and chaos.

There is a quiet trend toward pieced and patchwork fashions that combine many patterns in one garment. Fashion reporters won't likely talk about it. Patchwork is too ordinary, too country, too low budget. Patchwork is out there though -- available in a wide range of prices and casual to dressy fabrics.

Trendy cow and camouflage blobs and botches don't work in real-life clothes and will appear quickly dated.

Wardrobe Strategy #8 Rely on tailored looking styles to appear more authoritative -- softening the look with an untailored styles to appear more approachable.

Fashion collections for fall and winter emphasize "softer, de-constructed" styling -- not so tailored in look or sewing techniques. Yes as you can guess, it's called "de-constructed chic".

Many jackets hang softer due to less interfacing and shoulder padding. Suits are not cookie-cutter in style but designed in a wider range of feminine to sportive detailing. Suits available this season accommodate a wider range of lifestyles, personality traits, and values. Body conscious jackets, nipped in at the waist, give a sexy spin to matched suits.

One new twist on de-constructed stitching is the split seam. The seam is only partially sewn -- stich, triple space, stitch, triple space and so on. It does create a new looking visual impression, but the first time you try to work or sit down in a skirt or dress stitched like this, its's going to pull apart. There's no way those stitches can hold. They'll easily catch on drawer handles and other protruding objects, snagging or breaking the thread. Won't work.

Sweater dressing, including the twin set, is the untailored alternative to a suit or sport jacket. It includes that all important "third layer" which communicates one degree of authority, but softly so -- very approachable. A shorter, hip-bone length sweater looks newer than longer ones, especially with fuller trousers.

A gray cashmere sweater paired with a charcoal wool flared skirt is an approachable alternative to the gray flannel suit. Sounds good. Still, you may be smart to have a charcoal jacket handy for those situations where the third layer appearance of authority and credibility is essential. It's an element of "corporate chic". When approachable is the look you want, take the jacket off. For increased authority, put the jacket on. It works.

Careful choosing that twin sweater set. It's not a "must have." For a lot of women, those twin sweaters are too "cutesy" looking -- too yin. You loose too much authority for your personality or roles and goals. If you'd like to try the look as an update, look for a chunky knit. Or find a set with a V- or scoop neck pullover, and/or the cardigan with a collar. Consider a fur-collared twin set. Each of these design details will add authority back into the sweater set. You might also wear the cardigan tied around your shoulders for a more sportive look, depending on the occasion.

Among the shoes being pushed this season are ballet flats and dress shoes with the tiny cute sabrina heel. Both demand more delicate skirt and dress outfits, not more tailored looks. Ballet flats also work with softly styled and tapered pants. For more tailored looks, there are wonderful leather pumps available in classic to sportive styles. Oxford flats being shown with feminine romantic skirts and dresses just don't work, no matter what the label.

Platform shoes are available in all shapes and guises. Some few are stylish with evening clothes, but too many tend to work only with more casual, sporty looks. Platform sneakers work only for junior and senior high schoolers, looking a bit silly on even the collegiate crowd.

Wardrobe Strategy #9 Rely on a clothing cluster -- a small group of coordinated clothes, then expand as needed and affordable.

The "5 Easy Pieces" concept, with registered trademark owned by Conselle, is picking up momentum. Glamour magazine, in cooperation with Bebe retail clothing stores, are offering a stylish backpack with the purchase of one or more of Bebe's Five Easy Pieces: 1) the tailored lab coat, 2) the long skirt, 3) the cashmere sweater set, 4) the white shirt, and 5) the doctor's bag.

Vogue Patterns features coordinated sets of "Five Easy Pieces" in patterns to sew into a cluster. First Person Singular, a catalog from Land's End, focused on five pieces in five outfits. Donna Karan works with "7 Easy Pieces," while others market "Eight Easy Pieces." It's a trend.

Clustering is certainly the way to go if versatility and creativity are among your wardrobe goals. Start out with a few basic or key pieces, then let your imagination soar. Pair the expected with the unexpected or surprise element. Something with textured fabric or fur might add that surprise element this season. If you need the guidelines to get you going, consider getting Cluster Your Clothes, or the 5 Easy PiecesTM videos Parts One and Two, available from Conselle.

Accessorizing a cluster doesn't have to cost a fortune but does demand attention to style, texture and color coordination to get the most for your money.

Another shoe style making headlines is the wedge,. Some look goofy, but others are totally classy. With a slope from 1 to 3 inches, you can find a shoe that's comfortable for you as well as stylish.

Shoes made of fabric are available everywhere. However, they soil easily and unless you live in a dry climate, I suggest you pass on them. Either that or carry them to wherever you're going and change when you get there. Speaking of weather, its a good year to update your boots or boot shoes because there are so many options to choose from.

If you're a hat person or ready to try one out, sporty bell-shape cloche styles are making headlines in wool, suede, and leather -- and are even quite packable. Some of the 20's inspired hats are modernized by the addition of peacock feathers. Wear a cloche pulled down low over your forehead to bring attention to your eyes.

In handbags, hand-held styles and colored croc are fashion favorites. For those who need to free up your hands, attractive shoulder bags are available.

Wardrobe Strategy #10 Rely on a periodic wardrobe evaluation session -- discovering what works, what doesn't and why.

Because some of the best new looks are borrowed from the past, check out your closet for styles from previous years. This is a good season to make the point that you don't have to throw everything out the day it begins to appear dated. Find a storage place and hang on to it. A few retro pieces can be selected to mix with what's new for the 90s and as you approach 2000.

Wardrobe Strategy #11 Rely on proper clothing care and storage -- to increase the value of this resource.

What can I say? What will be of interest? Well, maybe not of interest, but of value. Don't put your new cashmere sweater in the washer. Read the care label of every new garment, and again when it's time to clean. And don't over clean your clothes. You don't want to clean the shape and body right out of your clothes. If perspiration is a problem, wear a lightweight shell underneath to protect the fabric and reduce cleaning required.

Hang up your clothes. You'll preserve their shape and increase their wear-life. And yes, you can hang up your sweaters. Fold them in half lengthwise and hand the crook of the underarm over the crook of the hanger.

It works and gets them out of the drawers -- in sight where you won't forget to wear them.

Wardrobe Strategy #12 Rely on smart shopping skills -- with planned purchases.

Make plans to build or expand a cluster of clothes. Decide what you want and set about finding it in stores and catalogues. Catalogues contain a wealth of information and options often not available in local stores. If youneed it, Conselle carries a Fashion Catalog Directory. For each catalog listed, the directory identifies size offered, the occasion and personal style type catered to,, as well as their general price range.

Yes, you can still buy an impulse item. Just think it through before you buy. Logic plus love makes for a great purchase.

Catering to commuters and long -distance travellers, airports, bus and train stations are making the move to the mall concept. You're going to find more and more chain stores in these locations.

With vintage looks being among the trends -- and if you like to look -- check out your local and regional area for vintage shops.

Vintage clothing may seem like an oxymoron, but old can look new. Vintage is very modern -- at least for now

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