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October 31, 2011

Chicago Manual of Style: Don't beat the winter blues, be the winter blues

Want to know what’s in? After flipping through pages and pages of catalogues and combing the Internet, I’ve compiled a list of five of this season’s strongest trends.

Red, sky blue, burnt orange, turquoise. Instead of grays, blacks, and whites, designers are looking to bright colors to fill their palette this fall and winter season. As the world turns gray and murky with precipitation, don’t fight the winter blues—be the winter blues. It’s less about a hint of this or that and more about big sheathes of colors—bold, bright, big.

Maxi and midi skirts are also in this year. Short and tight are out for once as designers bring back flowing skirts and dresses. Long pleated skirts in particular are in, especially if they hit right above the ankle. Pair them with booties, an oversized sweater, and a belt. The best part about this look? You can pile on layers of tights, leggings, and socks underneath and still look polished on top.

Knit sweaters, as always, are also in this season. This year’s difference? Last year fishermen sweaters were huge, but now they’ve evolved and expanded into even more oversized and cozy pieces. They’re a bit shapeless and bound to stretch out as you wear them, so be sure to buy a little smaller than you actually want, and if you do decide to pair one with a maxi skirt, use a belt to give you some shape.

Wide-cut trousers make a bolder and newer statement. Though reminiscent of the bell-bottom jeans from your tweenage years, when worn right, wide-legged trousers give you a tailored and sophisticated look. Continuing from last spring, skinny pants are being replaced with wide-legged trousers once worn by the likes of Katharine Hepburn. While the original high-waisted trousers are still popular, this year they’ve also shrunk from both ends, the waist and the ankle, creating a less dramatic effect.

Following from the past few years, knee-high boots are still in, but don’t stuff your wide-cut trousers into them. These boots look great with midi-length pieces and jeans. Top it all off with a hat, and you’ll be fully stylish from head to toe. Just about every designer house has been practicing its millinery, creating every type of hat imaginable. Marc Jacobs is making pillboxes, Gucci’s making fedoras, and John Galliano’s making berets. Whatever hat suits you best, go for it—as long as it’s on your head, it’s been in a collection this season.

As told by this season’s picks, current fashion is leaning away from the traditionally feminine and more toward a somewhat androgynous style with pieces that obscure the shape. Forties’ elegance is back, and women can look just as elegant sporting a long, drapey silhouette as they can with a tight dress and heels. In other words, the ’50s, with so much emphasis on a woman’s figure, might finally be fading from fashion now that Mad Men is on hiatus. When dressing, think simple, elegant, and strong. Most of these trends look best if you’re tall and skinny—long skirts and wide-cut trousers in particular. If you have a different shape or stature, though, don’t worry—the key is really as simple as searching out a good fit and knowing which trends to follow, and which to ignore. If you’re short, you can look like you’re drowning in all of these oversized pieces. I recommend wearing one at a time to counterbalance this effect. If you’re tall, play with them all, and see what works for you. No matter what you decide to do, there are plenty of options to balance winter comfort and composure.

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