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Call To Order

We may be living in uncertain times, but one thing’s for sure: Next fall, you’re going to be looking more pulled-together than ever. We’re talking smart, tailored elegance, sharp silhouettes, and some fabulous classics that will last you until the good times roll again.

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It’s hard to get your head around fall fashion while you’re still glued to CNN. The inevitability of war hung heavily over the recent shows in New York and Europe as Natalia Vodianova sprinted between shows sporting her antiwar tees. The stores in Milan and Paris—normally a home away from home for an editor or twenty—were empty. And what of the designers? It’s tempting to look for hints of how real life impacts on the runway, but it’s not always accurate. Most collections are designed months before. Yet the world situation seemed to have been playing out in the designers’ subconscious, too. How else does one explain the fact that the watchwords were structure and containment? There was a surge of no-nonsense tailored clothes that said “I’m ready for anything.” Jackets that buckled and zipped and belted (best at Gucci and Calvin Klein); hard-edged leather biker and aviator jackets (great ones from Balenciaga, Giorgio Armani, and Michael Kors at Celine); and long leather boots that stretched over the knees toward the hem of the mini (pretty much everyone). References to protection were everywhere: high collars shielding the face, leather gauntlets, and jacket sleeves that mimicked medieval armor.

But the impact of war could be seen in other ways, too. Designers reverted to a sense of appropriate dress, as if looking back to an era when a well-ordered life was reflected by a well-ordered wardrobe. We can welcome the return of forties and fifties flair: strictly tailored suits (with pencil skirts), cocktail dresses and evening gowns, and structured, stately bags with handheld straps. By far the best renderings of this came from Miuccia Prada (at Prada and Miu Miu) and Narciso Rodriguez.

But we’re not just seeing a pastiche of Far From Heaven. Beyond the period trappings, you see the investment. The strongest pieces were greatcoats and evening dresses, with designers realizing that people will spend only on really special items.

Look to Oscar de la Renta for some of the best cocktail dresses and Karl Lagerfeld for his latest spin on the classic Chanel cardigan suit. And then, of course, to Tom Ford at Yves Saint Laurent for jewel-toned velvet jackets and ruffled chiffon dresses, fur stoles and black lace underwear. And he gave us the best idea of all: At the end of the day, feel-good, look-good clothes are always going to be fashion’s best defense against troubled times.


The Miniskirt
Spring’s short skirts will still reign come winter, but don’t panic: Stores are ordering them longer. There are also endless ways—dark opaque hose; leggings; long, long boots—to make the mini work for snow days.
Photo Gallery: See the look.








The Short Coat
Give us an A(-line): Fall’s must-have coat has a sixties vibe, is cut with a flare, and finishes above the knees. The essential details? Look for zipper fastenings or First Lady bow-tied waists.
Photo Gallery: See the look.








The Narrow Pant
With skirts pretty much ruling supreme, the trouser option is—literally—narrower than ever before. Whether you take your inspiration from the eighties, motocross, or The Matrix, the mantra to repeat is, keep ’em lean.
Photo Gallery: See the look.








The Fitted Jacket
This spring’s ladylike, pastel-hued elegance now takes on a darker, tougher edge. A chic, close-fitting jacket that corsets the waist is a must once the chill winds hit and the leaves start falling—especially partnered with a knee-hugging skirt.
Photo Gallery: See the look.





The Belted Coat
It’s a cinch: Winter’s other definitive coat shape is all about the drama of a belted silhouette, full sleeves, and a collar that sweeps the shoulders.
See magazine in print for photos

The Ski Jacket
The urban-sportswear look hits a slalom run with a stylish update on the functional ski jacket. Fall’s peak performers: leather down jackets and nylon parkas with fur-trimmed hoods, webbing straps, and zippers.
See magazine in print for photos

Shoes
Fall is a tale of two styles. One is the boot. Knee-high—or higher—dominates, but chunkier ankle-length versions are also an option. Both boots and shoes make full use of fall’s ultra-luxe fabrics, such as crocodile and velvet. The definitive shoe has a retro-glam look, nodding to the forties with animal prints and shine.
See magazine in print for photos

The Fur Jacket
The forties-style, superglam fur chubby takes a casually luxurious turn for fall. Just don’t save it for after dark. Worn with minis, pants, and long boots, it’s at its best during daylight hours.
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The Tough Jacket
The jacket takes a hard-line stance, with a regiment’s worth of aviator- and biker-inspired styles. They’re cut from soft shearling or glossy patent leather, and fully loaded with buckles, zippers, and snaps. Think of one as your urban armor.
See magazine in print for photos

The Cocktail Dress
How to achieve fall’s most intoxicating evening look? Mix up equal parts satin, silk, and lace; add an elegant neckline, a defined waist, and a flared, flirty skirt. Serve in a sexy-but-sophisticated knee-length dress.
See magazine in print for photos

The Glamour Gown
Designers respond to the allure of heroines both historical (with Helen of Troy–worthy draping and wrapping) and Hollywood (with Jean Harlow–esque bias-cutting and deep décolleté) for next season’s big-night numbers.
See magazine in print for photos

Bags
To have and to hold. Fall’s bags split between the elegantly handheld and sportier shoulder-strap styles. But whichever you opt for, remember that a bold bag is the only way to go, whether it’s with strong color, crocodile, animal prints, metallic leather, satin, or heavy-metal hardware. And look for the unexpected: Gucci’s trademark snaffle has made its way off preppy loafers and onto sassy snakeskin and chain-strap bags.
See magazine in print for photos


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