Fall Fashion Trends: Understated Style Is Your Key to Winter 2015 Fabulousness

Fall Fashion Trends and Winter 2014-5 are unified by a single emphasis -- the understatement.

Fresh ideas that mark this year as different from previous cycles include:

  • slouchy belted wool coats.
  • head-to-toes sweater dressing.
  • menswear-inspired suits and shoes.
  • solid colors, diverse neutrals, very dark floral prints, and occasional pops of neon.
  • retro inflections.

Older women have two main directions in which to go when it comes to style.

One direction is that of fabulously colorful, textured, and outrageous Bohemian fashion. The other is that of understatement with on-trend accessories. The second route is favored by this year's fall-winter designer trends.

Slouchy Wool Coats with Tie Belts Evoke Casual Glamour

A belted coat is not for every figure. It helps to have a waistline; however, the belted coat can also establish a waistline for the angular rectangular figure with broad shoulders and hips. Think Katherine Hepburn.

This style looks fabulous on a curvy figure. But stick to a plain lapel. Bulky furs are in vogue right now, but a full-figured woman does not need any embellishment on top.

The apple figure will not benefit from the tie-belted coat.

How to Wear It

Add a scarf and a broad-brimmed hat and pretend you're a spy embarking for an adventure on the Orient Express.

As well all know, spies dress to blend in, not to stand out, making the tie-belt wool coat our first nominee for the season's theme of understated style.

Head-to-Toe Sweater Ensembles Will Keep You Warm

The trends for leggings and bulky sweaters merge in sweater ensembles that feature slacks and dress-length tunic tops.

These are luscious for curling up with a cup of tea and a good book in front of a fire or for apres-ski.

Sweater ensembles are most often shown in a monochromatic neutral such as gray, oatmeal, or off-white. Both pieces are close-fitting. The pants, while skinny, are not leggings.

The emphasis is on understatement rather than fancy stitching or embellishments.

How to Tweak the Tight, Skinny Look

As I survey the odd rolls of flesh around my middle, I am pretty sure that I might end up looking like a stuffed sausage if I take this trend too literally.

Fortunately, there are sufficient bulky-knit sweaters in review to make possible a bit of tweaking for apple- and pear-shaped gals. Combining a big sweater of the same color with those skinny knit pants.

How not to Wear Leggings

Make sure the top fully covers your bottom, even when you bend over. I am seeing too many women out in leggings with tops that end at the waist. They look as if they forgot to put on a skirt, because leggings look more like underwear than outerwear.

Monochrome ensembles add height, so head-to-toe sweater dressing is ideal for petite figures.

Menswear Inspirations Keep the Focus on Understatement

No one has ever accused the male business suit of being too colorful or too fussy with embellishments.

Neutral suiting fabrics and contoured lace-up shoes keep women's business and city wear understated with clean lines and no fussy details.

Runway designs are always shown on tall, thin ingenues, so the trick is to adapt the menswear look for our older figures.

Who Can Wear Double-Breasted Designs

Double-breasted jackets are a component of quite a few of these designs. These can help balance a pear-shaped figure -- but make sure that the hemline is not too long. Avoid a horizontal line across the hips.

Menswear lines are not usually flattering to curvy women, especially those who are large on top.

Wear your suit with a mock-neck close-fitting sweater or a man's tailored shirt for maximum effect.

Jewelry should be minimal and plain.

It's Not for Everyone

These suits are seen in black, brown, and tan, but there is not much navy blue around.

Ellen DeGeneres, 55, pulls off this look with panache. But menswear dressing is not for everyone. Indeed, no style trend is.

I cannot imagine an Aphrodite or Metis fashion archetype gravitating toward this look.

Colors Evoke Spanish Court Styles of the Grandees

A variety of solid-color neutral woolens, rich florals on dark backgrounds evoking tapestries for gowns, geometric prints with tribal connotations, and occasional pops of neon flash are the color directions for fall fashion trends and winter 2014-2015.

As a group, the effect reminds me of the historical fashion era of the Spanish grandee. When a pious monarch demanded courtiers wear black, they often found a way around the stricture.

Slits in voluminous arms or jacket padding might reveal a flash of color comparable to the peek at a neon color we may spy in some of this season's clothing.

Richly colored floral prints evoke the tapestries of this bygone era.

The Boldest Colors for Fall-Winter

Two colors emerge as the favorites: bold blue and ruby red.

Bold blue, compared to team colors at Harper's Bazaar is practical for sportier day wear. I expect to see knit outfits for shopping at the mall emerge in this color.

Ruby red embodies the essence of night-time sophistication. Dresses and tops for the holiday season are made for this color.

Prints Go Geometric

Geometric prints, some of them evoking the tribal patterns of Africa and South Asia, were also represented in some designer collections.

The key here again is understatement. The prints are intepretations of these themes, a bit more subtle and refined than crafts' products might be.

It seems there is no end to designers' love affair with animal prints. This has been true since this site started in 2008, so it no longer seems to warrant being called a trend. It has become a staple of the fashion scene.

Retro Renaissance Swings in on A-Lines, Ultra-Short Skirts, and All Kinds of Boots

High street fashions are back with A-line mini dresses and skirts. Angle-high books are worn with slim pants and tall boots with the short skirts.

Is this look right for you? Consider the norms of your community, where you work or the places you go, how important keeping warm in cold weather is for you, and your comfort level.

I have seen a few articles abjuring older women to dress youthfully, rather than being concerned about dressing our age. That phrase, I am told, is outmoded.

Style icons such as actress Susan Sarandan are often pictured in short skirts and other on-trend attire.

My hat's off to them.

Dress for You, Not a Fashion Arbiter

I, however, work at a career college -- not a Hollywood studio. Female students may be sent home for too-short skirts, low necklines, and even leggings, so faculty are (rightly) expected to model professional dress.

If you love the retro Mod look, be realistic about your figure and the norms of your community. Dark stockings and tall boots can go a long way toward adapting the look for conservative settings.

Understated Is the Art of Subtraction

It can be fun to speculate about why understated style is this year's theme. I tend to see it as a reflection of our pared-down economy, especially the economic tributions of the US middle class.

Understated style may seem as if it is the easiest of looks to achieve.

Understatement embodies the philosophy that less is more.

After you have finished dressing, look in the mirror. And then remove one thing. Then you will have the look of understated style.

> Fall Fashion Trends

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