7 fall fashion questions answered

cbolling@charlotteobserver.comNovember 6, 2013 

Even the most fashion-confident person can get stuck in a style conundrum every now and again.

You’ve got ever-changing styles, mixed with ever-changing seasons, and it all adds up to a series of “should I or shouldn’t I” morning deliberations in the closet. We took some of the more perplexing dilemmas to the experts for advice.

Q. Layering is huge in fall. But how many components are too many?

A. “The key to layering is not looking too bulky,” says Kenya Hunter, a prolific Charlotte fashion blogger ( kenyalfashionblog.com). “An easy way to do this is by layering pieces that contrast each other. Choose pieces with different collar sizes or pieces with different sleeve lengths. For instance, take a sleeveless and collarless shift dress and add a blouse with a collar underneath. Outerwear is also a great way to layer. Add a jean jacket or blazer to a short sleeve look or add a cardigan and a scarf. The trick is to be comfortable and to use the contrast of the pieces to create your look.”

Q. Emerald is the “it” color this fall. But how much of a strong color is too much?

A. “Emerald pieces are easy to mix into your fall wardrobe,” says Pam Mullaney, owner of dress boutique in Raleigh’s Ridgewood Shopping Center. “Choose an emerald dress and pair it with black tights. Keep accessories neutral, and if you go with an all-emerald dress, let that be your only pop of the color. The same goes if you choose an emerald skirt or top. Offset the other piece with a deep hue such as navy or black. A classic white or cream softens the look as well. If you are not ready to dive in head first, start simple with an emerald bag or even an emerald flat. Choose one piece within your ensemble to experiment with this beautiful jewel tone.”

Q. Cuffed pants are a huge trend. But are they only for the hipsters?

A. “Most people think that cuffed pants are a hipster look, but that is far from the truth,” says Amy Pickard, owner of Revolve men’s consignment boutique in Dilworth. “The cuff anchors the pant and gives it a sleek look. I think that it adds another dimension to the outfit. It isn’t just for jeans, either; I have been styling a lot of my customers in cords and tweed slacks with a fun blazer or sport coat and match it with multicolored Cole Haan spectator shoes and a fun pair of socks. ... The only thing to be mindful of is … some cuffs can make a shorter guy appear shorter.”

Q. Can an adult woman get away with patterned tights?

A. “Patterned and colored tights have been on trend now for the past few seasons. Tights scream fall, and a splash of texture or color is an update to the staple black tight for cooler temperatures,” says Mullaney. “Pulling off the trend needs to be age appropriate, so keep in mind a few factors choosing your tights. Go for a subtle pattern such as a paisley or stripe. Avoid larger prints such as oversized polka dots or stripes. When it comes to color, choose muted hues for fall. Navy, gray or cranberry are festive and acceptable for women to mix with their sweater dress or skirts.”

Q. White jeans after Labor Day?

A. “I don’t see this as a fashion ‘don’t’ anymore,” Hunter says. “White jeans can be a great alternative to classic blue denim, yet can be worn and styled very similarly. A neutral color sweater and boots would pair perfectly with white jeans. But if you are not quite bold enough to try white yet, start with off-white or winter white. These colors are very on trend this fall.”

Q. Wool shorts seem to just make sense for our climate. But who can wear them?

A. “I think this look can be quite chic and one that can be worn by many different body types and ages,” Hunter says. “However, styling is important. As the weather gets cooler, I think wool shorts look great with tights underneath. Tights are slimming, and they add an additional level of polish. Shoes are important, too. Classic pumps, flats or oxfords are great options. Adding a blazer to the look is a great way to layer, and it also counterbalances the coverage.”

Q. Is it possible to incorporate this season’s huge leather trend into a traditionalist work wardrobe?

A. “For the working woman, it is possible to incorporate the trend into your work wardrobe,” Mullaney says. “In this case, less is better. Consider garments that have leather features such as panels, a leather sleeve or leather trim. While a leather shift dress is hot for the season, it’s not appropriate for the office. Save it for date night.”

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