In anticipation of SouthPark mall’s upcoming Simon Now fashion show, SouthPark Magazine sat down with the show’s mastermind, style expert Jacqué Ellis, to get the dish on the hottest looks for fall. The SouthPark Simon Now Fashion weekend, Oct. 19 and 20, will feature free runway shows, beauty events and more. The events will help shoppers of every age and price range discover this season’s trends and where to find them. To learn more, visit www.simon.com or follow Ellis’ style blog, stylesetter.simon.com.
What is this season’s hottest trend? Unpredictable leather. I’ve been seeing leather in new places. Leather skirts, dresses, jackets and leggings are in. Leather is fun and versatile, and designers see that. They have made it a more feminine fabric this season. There’s lots of leather variety this fall, and you can’t go wrong with a leather jacket and a great pair of jeans. How do you pull off the season’s adventurous pieces, like leather leggings? Leather leggings with a short dress or tunic are fantastic options for everyday. You’ll look great in whatever you put on as long as you wear it with confidence. Every trend isn’t for everyone; not every woman will be comfortable in leather leggings and that’s fine. Fashion is something to have fun with. If you don’t feel good in it, you shouldn’t try to force it. What about other trends? I’ve heard a lot about peplums. The ‘40s and ’50s peplum is back in tops and jackets. The peplum is a fitted style that hugs the chest and torso and flares out at the waist. A subtle hint of animal and reptile prints in accessories is another trend. These prints are showing up on belts, blazer accents and shoes. Animal prints take go-to pieces like the knit sweater and make them current yet classic. Lastly, structured handbags and cross body satchels are practical and undeniably popular this fall. Which styles this season are designed to look great on certain body types or ages? Cardigans are flattering on any body type or age and, according to what accessories you use, can be worn at the office, on a date or while lounging at home. Shapely knits with interesting accessories are everywhere. Blazers are the other universal fit hit of this season. Slightly long, tailored blazers are great for all women. For older and plus size women, be wary of cropped blazers. I’ve seen a lot of oxblood reds. What other colors are in? Step aside little black dress, and make way for the little red dress! I’m in love with all variations of reds: maroon, mauve and vermillion. Red is the new black. Jewel tone hues are also hot, especially leather pieces in jeweled red, emerald, sapphire blue, amethyst purple, turquoise and topaz yellow hues. Leather is an investment. What do you recommend to shoppers who aren’t willing to take out a loan for their leather jacket? I recommend Gap’s leather jacket; it looks irresistible and has an equally attractive price tag. But you don’t need to buy everything that is trendy to be fashionable. With each season, focus on what you are attracted to and feel comfortable in, like a basic leather jacket. From there, build a wardrobe that never goes out of style. What's one of your favorite timeless looks? From season to season, I see shift dresses. It’s a very wearable style that complements a lot of body types and ages. I’ve also noticed that every fall, boots and booties are popular. Make sure you focus on outfits that layer and thus transition well between seasons. If given the choice, buy trendy accessories over trendy outfits. What is your solution to those mornings when it feels like nothing in your closet looks good? Sweater dresses. They’re easy to wear and don’t require any styling. They are versatile. And sweater dresses put up with long days of work or travel. Pair them with tights or boots in the fall. You’ll look great no matter what! How would you define the difference between style and fashion? Fashion encompasses the current trends. Style is a personal translation of those trends. There are no hard and fast rules in style. There’s just good taste. How would you describe Charlotte’s style? If I had to describe Charlotte’s style in one word it would be classic. Yet Charlotteans are not afraid to have fun with fashion and play up their outfits with great accessories, handbags and shoes. I’ve seen a dramatic evolution of the city and its fashion in the past five years. Even children are fashionable here. You all are a fun audience at shows -- lots of attitude! All of this goes to say that SouthPark is one of my top three favorite malls in the country. I love Charlotte; it has fantastic restaurants and is such a friendly place! How did you first become interested in fashion? I grew up in a small town an hour away from Indianapolis. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were spent at a mall with my mom and girlfriends on our “power shopping” trips. We’d go out to fun restaurants, watch mall fashion shows and get our makeup done. I love my job because I get to see mothers with their girls continue to experience those positive moments I had with my mom. What gave you the idea to create Simon Fashion Now? I started Simon Fashion Now to connect everyday fashionistas to the runway. At Fashion Week there is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful piece and then not being able to have it. I wanted to showcase items that shoppers could afford and easily find at their mall. After 16 years in the fashion business, what is your number one piece of fashion advice? Sometimes people get so wrapped up in what is trending and try to incorporate it all. Instead, save your money and time and stick to what fits your personal style. There aren’t as many rules in fashion as there used to be because the retail and design world provide such a variety of clothing options. So don’t be afraid to be wrong. Feel confident in expressing your own sense of style. Fashion shouldn’t be serious; it should be fun.