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How-to guide to being chic

Courtney Wilson | Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Fall fashion this year is all about an eccentric, costume-like drama. The fashion magazines fall previews are out, and they are more intimidating than ever.

Any college girl is bound to wonder how she can pull off the same chic outfit that 80-pound model in the picture is wearing? After perusing the pages of a massive pile of fashion magazines, it has become painfully clear to me that some outfits are strictly for print.

I am willing to accept the fact that we cannot all be cover girls, but I am unwilling to admit that the Notre Dame girl is incapable of possessing any fashion know-how. Get in the know, ladies, as I have narrowed down this fall’s top runways trends into 4 stylistic snapshots – Mod ’60s, Richly Romantic, Military and Posh menswear. These looks can easily translate into any girl’s daily Notre Dame escapades.

A trend forever returning the runways, and making its way into this year’s fall season is the Mod ’60s look. Bold prints and graphic detailing that remain clean and simple are reminiscent of chic Andy Warhol heroine Edie Sedgwick.

Conveniently enough for this trend, black has restored its place as a timeless, universal classic. After a summer season of bright, black has reemerged as the essential fall color for just about everything from jackets to accessories. Avoid being taken too seriously, though, and mix various fabrics or include extra embellishments so as to transcend the limitations of the basic black stereotype. Be extra mod and liven up the look with an accent feature such as a big beaded necklace or belted waist. Remember, it’s the bigger the better as waist-cinching belts take precedence to those previously hip-slung.

For the girly girl, the richly romantic look should be your inspiration – plush fabrics and jewel tone colors reign supreme. All things lace, ruffled and feminine are labeled Victorian this season as soft sheer blouses and plush velvet jackets prove their elegance.

Move away from the traditional blazer, and try a stylish shrug, those charming little shrunken cover-ups which can be layered over everything from satin camisoles to soft blouses and turtlenecks. Available in just about every color and fabric, beaded and crocheted, they make the perfect style statement. A quality cover-up, a shrug can be worn just about everything, as it proves equally stunning with dresses as with jeans.

For a fresh party look, choose a flowy silk or chiffon-like tunic to fall below your waist. Then add a velvet trim shrug for an eye-catching but not-too-formal party pick. Long layered necklaces with trinket-like charms flawlessly finesse this ladylike look.

For a casual daytime look, try the part-preppy, part-nautical inspiration of the season’s military look, or why not dress up a menswear ensemble reminiscent of posh prepster Katharine Hepburn? You can join the army of fashionistas donning the officer-inspired pea coats and shearling-lined bombers this season or you can borrow from the boys with some extra chic cross-dressing.

Get into some slouchy trousers or pair a suit jacket with a crisp oxford and jeans. Finish the look off with a plaid or rugby-style scarf for a flawlessly classic co-ed look. Preppy is far from boring this season as knee-high equestrian boots and old school vests can keep you up-to-the-minute. Play and have fun with your accessories for the ultimate vogue menswear style.

Accessories take center stage this season as jewelry and bags become increasingly oversized. Big bangles, brave necklaces and bold bags set fearless fall fashionistas apart.

For the best in accessories, take your cues from celebrity A-listers Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie. These self-assured, fashion-savvy stars rely upon bountiful bracelets, chunky necklaces and handbags the size of a Dodge truck to complete their ensembles. Invest in oversized bags and totes, as they have seemingly become the ultimate status symbol.

But you can also find ways to recycle the clothes you already have, with clever layering. Layering will stretch your wardrobe and take your best basics year round. The vintage style is more popular than ever and full of feminine bohemian glamour. Rummage through the parental’s closet or head to the thrift store for baggy boho tunics. Layer them over sweaters and turtlenecks, then accessorize.

This season its all about having fun with fashion. There are no limitations as mix-and-match styles and fearless baubles verify a certain fashion forward savoir-faire. Happy shopping, ladies.

Contact Courtney Wilson at


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.