All right, I admit: I'm not looking forward to the weather cooling down (maybe some of you are). But I love fall and winter clothing-it's what gets me through the season: warm wool coats, thick opaque tights, jeans tucked into boots, cozy sweaters -- love it! Yes, Milwaukee ain't no Miami, but our changing seasons afford us a change in scenery-and clothing.
This season's look is all about ladylike luxe, with exciting colors and details popping up in everything from handbags to sweaters. Rich gemstone colors like fuchsia, eggplant and teal are saturating dressy tops and bold pumps, while coats and dresses are taking a decidedly retro, feminine turn, a la Jackie O. Pick up these pieces for your fall wardrobe at your favorite store-or the ones below-and have yourself a beautiful fall.
A Statement Coat
Yes, everyone needs a coat -- this is Wisconsin, after all. But this year's crop of coats is incorporating fun, retro details.
"(Coats) have classic clean lines; very Grace Kelly or Jackie O.-inspired," says Laura Lutter Cole, owner of Aala Reed. She loves their three-quarter sleeve silk Ted Baker of London boxy short jacket with a button-cuff detail and Beth Bowley's bouclé swing coat with detachable fur collar.
"The Ted Baker jacket can be worn as a blazer or lightweight coat and the Beth Bowley one would be really great with a pair of long gloves," she adds.
Three-quarter sleeve coats can be found in many shops from Old Navy on up, depending on how much you want to spend.
If you want something in a color or pattern, Ma Jolie's fashionable, well-priced jackets have you covered -- literally. Lush colors like green and purple turn a boring old jacket into a statement piece.
"It's not just basic black. We have every kind of style here -- pea coat, bomber, babydoll-in wools, plaids and colors," says Jennifer Bowers, buyer for Ma Jolie.
FIND IT: Ted Baker of London silk three-quarters sleeve jacket, $250, Aala Reed; Beth Bowley detachable fur collar swing jacket, $385, Aala Reed; BB Dakota fashion jackets, $60-$90, Ma Jolie.
A Jewel Tone Piece
Like leaves turning colors from summer to fall, so too have handbag and clothing colors from vibrant primaries (red, yellow, green) to rich, radiant jewel tones (fuchsia, eggplant, emerald). The more sophisticated color palette reflects the more refined clothing of cooler weather. Both Bowers and Lutter Cole say purple is the way to go. So does Carrie Arrouet, co-owner of Lela.
"Purple, purple, purple ... and don't forget purple!" echoes Arrouet. Punch up your look even more with a patent piece in a jewel tone, she adds.
Find your right shade in a chunky sweater, leather hobo handbag, enamel bangle or patent pump. They'll all add a shot of style to any ensemble.
You may have seen those tattered "boyfriend" jeans Katie Holmes has been sporting lately. Excuse my bias, but what's the deal with looking like you just got done with housework? Dressy denim in classic silhouettes is the way to go this fall, at least in our parts. Dark and gray washes are the most "en vogue" right now.
"The straight leg will be great for tucking into boots and worn with a chunky sweater," says Lutter Cole. Longer, tunic length sweaters are a perfect match for skinny and straight leg jeans.
Also perfect for tucking into boots are Lela's denim-look leggings. Yeah, you might be over the legging trend but these look like true-blues (not Lohan-esque), and Arrouet is excited about carrying them at Lela.
Or try a beautiful, elegant trouser jean. Able to transition easily from the workday into cocktails at night, this is one investment piece you won't be sorry you spent money on.
FIND IT: William Rast straight leg jean, $225, Robins Jean straight leg jean, $270 and Ranahan trouser jean, $175, all at Aala Reed. Denim leggings, $42-$98, Lela.
Feminine Frock, Blouse or Sweater
If you've ever examined a vintage piece you'll notice details like small weights sewn into hems of skirts to make the hem lay nicely, hand beading and impeccable workmanship. All of which are more difficult to find in garments today, and that's why details are ever so important (when you can find them). This fall look for feminine details like buttons shaped like roses, ruffles and lace trim as fun add-ons in a standard dress or blouse.
"Blouses are hot for fall. Sheer blouses, ruffled blouses and blouses the tie around the neck," says Arrouet.
Lutter Cole loves Ted Baker London's eggplant and goldenrod floral dress with satin trim. "It's very feminine, but very classy. It's an investment piece."
If you want to spend the money, opt for a sharp shift dress, cocktail dress or cashmere cardigan sweater (with detail, like lace trim) that you'll be able to wear for seasons to come. If not, snap up a kicky, affordable cocktail dress with big rosettes on the neckline or waist, a floral patterned shift or tie-neck blouse.
FIND IT: Ted Baker London "Jerica" dress, $225, Aala Reed; Max & Cleo cocktail dresses, $80-$180, Ma Jolie.
Rockin' Accessories: Jewelry, Belts, Hats and Gloves
Problem: you want to jazz up your wardrobe but don't want to spend the rent. Solution: rack up some accessories that'll add (affordable) variety to your look. Fashion mags have been touting huge statement pieces: multiple layers of chain necklaces, pearl and rhinestone encrusted ribbon necklaces and sweet charm bracelets. All of which might look luxe, but can be found for cheap. Target, Old Navy and H&M all have great versions of pricier jewelry. Vintage and consignment shopping is another great way to score real vintage pieces for not-so-pricy prices.
And what's more ladylike than adding a beautiful belt that cinches your waist and shows off your curves? Everything from thick, leather corset-like belts to skinny patent belts slung on the hips are good to go.
"(It's the) return of the waist. Belts in all widths and colors are must have accessories to transform a look," affirms Arrouet.
Keep warm and look chic with fun scarves and hats (again: Wisconsin, people). Choose a long, lightweight cotton or cashmere-blend scarf in cream or lavender and wrap it around your neck a few times (a la Jennifer Aniston and Rachel Bilson) to add casual cool to a work or weekend ensemble. Or pick up a warm wool scarf or hat from Aala Reed and Ma Jolie, both of which are carrying new lines Goorin Bros. and Delux this fall. Both are moderately priced so you can add variety to your outerwear look, too.
"With the economy being so shaky right now, people are being much more price conscious now," says Lutter Cole. "(With accessories) you can really change your look on a budget."
FIND IT: Delux and Goorin Bros. hats, mittens and scarves, $20-$40, Ma Jolie; Goorin Bros. hats, $17-$40, Aala Reed.
Aala Reed, 1320 E. Brady. St., (414) 226-2252
Lela, 321 N. Broadway, (414) 727-4855
Ma Jolie, 2583 N. Downer Ave., (414) 961-8200. Bayshore Town Center: 5800 N. Bayshore Dr., Ste. B120., (414) 961-8210