What's Hot, What's Not: Women's Fall Fashion Trends
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
Now ladies, you know, we would not leave you out of our fashion conversation. If you are wondering what to swap for those flip-flops and baby doll dresses as we switch seasons, here to help us sort it all out is Harriette Cole, creative director of Ebony magazine. She joins us from her home in New York.
Ms. HARRIETTE COLE (Creative Director, Ebony Magazine): Thanks. I'm happy to be with you.
MARTIN: So Harriette, I have to ask about the September issue, a major takeout on fashion, a big retrospective, some flashy photo spreads. I mean, of course, Ebony's always been known for photography, but this seems like a very different look. What gave you the idea?
Ms. COLE: Well, I've been with Ebony for a few months now, and part of my role is to refresh the visual presentation in the magazine. So overall, we have redesigned and kind of cleaned up and made more bold the images in the book. The September issue is the issue where it's the most obvious.
But in terms of content, we decided that we would make September our fashion issue, which is historically what it is for every magazine that includes any kind of fashion in the magazine. But what would be fashion for Ebony? So we included fashion trends, but we also included some of the fashion players, the African-American people who are - have been making inroads and are making inroads. And also, we talked about the plight of the supermodel in terms of black supermodels, but it's really true about all of them now that celebrities have taken over the covers of magazines where models used to be, where these supermodels lie. And so we talked to Iman, we talked to like Alek Wek, Kimora Lee Simmons and Tyra Banks to see where are you now, and how are you able to have longevity in an industry where anybody can be a supermodel?
MARTIN: It was interesting. It was interesting. It was interesting. I learned a lot, particularly about some of the behind-the-scenes players.
Ms. COLE: Yeah.
MARTIN: I had no idea - particularly, that there were that many jobs in fashion, so it was fascinating. So let's move on to the fashion. You mentioned the cover models…
Ms. COLE: Yes.
MARTIN: …for the - Tyra Banks, Iman, Kimora Lee Simmons. Now they're all wearing black, and Alek Wek is wearing brown. But I keep hearing gray is the color for fall. What gives? Was it the idea that gray doesn't necessarily flatter the darker skin tones?
Ms. COLE: Alek has on - actually, the dress that she has on is black with a gold underlay. It ends up looking more like a beige-brown color than black. But we just decided to do the play on the theme black, as in black people. Black, in terms of a fashion color, is still very, very popular. And honestly, Michel, anybody who wants to wear black is not going to go wrong this season, even if you don't live in New York.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. COLE: But gray is good. The thing about gray - and I'll tell you because a lot of gray colors are popular - the tone of gray is going to depend on your body shape, because a lot of the grays that I've seen out there are very light and light gray works if you are in shape and well proportioned, especially if it's on a bottom. I've seen a lot of gray pants in a knit fabric, so they're kind of clingy. If you have a round bottom, you better beware.
MARTIN: What are some of the other hot looks for women this fall?
Ms. COLE: Well, what is great for many women is that pants are getting a little bit looser and wider, so the wide leg pant is back. Now you mentioned baby-doll dresses being gone, but sorry, they're not gone.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: Oh, man.
Ms. COLE: They're not gone. They're still around. The difference in the fall, I think, is tights are very popular - iridescent tights, the thick opaque tights, tights in different colors. You know, in the spring and summer, you were either wearing nothing with the baby dolls, and just letting those legs hang out or wearing leggings. Leggings are still popular, but for a more dressed-up look, tights are good, and that helps with that baby doll silhouette. But I have to tell you, for many women, just don't wear it.
A straight skirt, a straight dress, you know, the pencil skirt that is in your proper size, not too tight. Coat dresses are very popular. Remember those? Like, back in the '80s? They are back. And suiting, you know, really beautiful skirt suits and pant suits for women are very popular this year, and I think that that is so exciting because casual dressing kind of went to an all-time low. And in the summer, it goes even lower than the all-time low because people hardly put on any clothes. So now that fall is here, you can dress up for work. And for women who are very serious about their careers, if you put on a fabulous suit, it helps you to make a statement that says you're serious.
MARTIN: And there's also less thought involved. I mean, I think, you know, you just put the suit on and go. You don't have to constantly sweat what accessories this - with that. But speaking of accessories, I keep hearing about these shoe booties.
Ms. COLE: Shoe booties are probably the most popular foot accessory this season, and they essentially are boots that come just to the ankle, maybe a tiny bit above the ankle. Sometimes they have a round toe, sometimes they have a square toe. Often, they have a super high heel. But I think that the reason that they've become so popular is that they will fit every woman.
MARTIN: I thought that there was kind of this idea that if you had a thicker calf, that perhaps you shouldn't wear a shoe that cuts you off at the ankle because, you know, that's obviously a subjective issue, you know, whether you consider that attractive or not.
Ms. COLE: It depends on what you put on with it, Michel, so…
MARTIN: But do you think the shoe bootie really works for all kinds of shapes and forms?
Ms. COLE: Well, you have to try it on, and it depends upon the heel height. And you have to look in the mirror and look at the silhouette, the profile with the skirt on with the shoe bootie and a tight, and see what does it look like.
MARTIN: If you wanted to freshen up your wardrobe, what would you recommend to somebody who isn't trying to break the bank?
Ms. COLE: Well, I definitely would say a couple of things. I would say tights, because they're very affordable. You can wear color, shimmer and, you know, for under 50 bucks, you should get a couple of pairs, right? Also, a rounded collar jacket. So rather than our traditional kind of square shoulder, button down the front, a rounded collar jacket, either a shawl jacket or one that has invisible hidden buttons, you can get that jacket and put it with different skirts or pants, and that one item can refresh many different looks.
MARTIN: Harriette Cole is an author and creative director of Ebony magazine. She also writes a daily syndicated advice column called "Sense and Sensitivity." She joined us from her home in New York.
Thank you, Harriette.
Ms. COLE: You're welcome.
(Soundbite of song, "Vogue")
MADONNA (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) You've got to do it. Let your body go with the flow.
MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.
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