Fall fashion: Bank on it

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Trousers are for men and skirts are for women, and never the twain shall mix.

Don't you believe it.

For decades, women have borrowed styles from men, tweaking them a bit and adding their own stylish touches.

Perhaps drawn by the ease of pieces such as pants and vests, it seems that every few years, a new generation of women discover the allure of menswear and decide to borrow a few ideas from the guys.

Icons of the menswear look include Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, who made a habit of donning trousers in the ‘30s; Bianca Jagger, who partied at Studio 54 wearing a silky white pantsuit in the ‘70s; and of course there was the whole Diane Keaton-Annie Hall period.

This fall, trends include soft knit skirts and feminine blouses paired with close-cut vests and lots of kicky oxford-style pumps. And that ‘80s staple, the tie, is still around, worn loosely with a tailored vest or a ladylike blouse.

But the season's outfits still manage to look new.

“It's a little bit more contemporary, has a little bit more edge to it, not as traditional even though it's still a traditional look,” said Elizabeth Shipley, manager and buyer at Worlds Apart in the Mall at Lexington Green in Kentucky. “And it's the fabrics; they're a bit more softer.”

Shipley emphasizes that accessories worn with menswear-inspired fashions need to be “more feminine, from the jewelry to the handbags. Boots are huge this year,” she said.

Shoes are part of the trend, too. Designers are offering Oxford booties in dressy peep-toed models as well as sky-high booties with pencil-thin heels, such as the Vulture from Steve Madden.

Coats in strong double-breasted shapes give off a slightly military vibe, but with fun accents, such as the flower-shaped buttons on a Milly design, the look is more girly.

“Those things, the little details, the accessories, are going to really differentiate the look than from where we've seen it,” said Allison Herrington of Bella Rose on Maxwell Street. “Adding the feminine details is key this year. … just add a color or a ruffle, I think that's important.”

And with the arrival of fall comes a switch to heavier bags. This year, enormous satchels with their bold, powerful shapes (and luxurious emerald shades, animal prints and patent leathers) are just the ticket for a season of menswear-inspired outfits.


© 2008, Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.).

Visit the World Wide Web site of the Herald-Leader at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): fallfashion AMX-2008-08-18T08:00:00-04:00