Style Matters’ early fashion tips for early shoppers

The first sprinkling of snow on the foothills is the Style Matters signal to hightail it into the malls and boutiques. The stores are loaded in preparation for pre-holiday shopping. Selection will never be better. Not sure what to buy? Take these Style Matters tips with you.

First, the bad news: Styles haven’t changed that much since last fall. That means a continuation of all those bright, sometimes garish, colors. For those of us who don’t want to resemble a Crayola crayon box, this is a big disappointment and a challenge to ferret out the classic shades of black, gray, beige and brown. SM suggests using color as an accent and as an accessory. Consider a colorful handbag, ballet flats, scarves or earrings. A clever way to integrate color is to dress in monchrome shades — e.g. pair a black top and slacks and over them wear a colorful sweater or jacket. 

The other bit of bad news is that styles seem to be looking younger and younger. Or is it that Style Matters is getting older and older? Nah! But a word to our Stylish Readers: Stay away from short skirts, lacy leggings and bomber jackets, at least at work. 

The good news:  Styles haven’t changed that much since last fall.  That means you just have to supplement whatever you invested in last year. 

Style Matters Fall Fashion Guide, 2013

1.  Boots — Whether its ankle, equestrian or western, boots are the big story for fall. Of course, boots have always been part of the Colorado image. The rest of the country is just catching up.

These boots by Cole-Haan are a sophisticated take on the western-style ankle boot and look best with jeans.

Women are wearing boots with everything from party dresses to pajamas (Oops, that’s me. I can’t resist wearing Ugg-style boots around the house.) Boots are on full display at Macy’s, Dillard’s and Nordstrom along with — wait for it — wedge heeled sneakers.   They’re not for everyone, and certainly not in the workplace, but so fun to wear socially. (Full disclosure: Style Matters owns two pairs.) 

Boot styles run the gamut from plain janes to embellished dressy numbers. This pair is from Kate Spade.

Here’s how to integrate the boot trend into your existing wardrobe. Buy a pair of black suede ankle boots with whatever heel height is most comfortable. Why suede? It looks more sophisticated and dressy (read expensive). Make sure that the top of the boot fits snug around your ankle. Large gaps are not flattering. Once you find the perfect pair, wear them with skirts, dresses and slacks. Wear ankle boots either inside or outside of the pant cuff. Your choice.

2.  Leather — It’s back. Leather embellishments are popping up on sweaters, tops and jackets. This is the year to snag a form-fitting leather jacket or vest. You will get plenty of wear out of them, given Denver’s mild winters. Leather slacks have been updated with a slimmer leg. Break out of your typical clothing shell and try on a pair of leather leggings. Waiting in the wings are those baggy leather pants with elasticized cuffs.

For a change of look, pair pumps with the new style baggies.

3.  Skinny leg jeans — I saw bell-bottom styles the other day at JC Penney. Not going to happen… at least not yet. Skinny leg slacks and jeans are still in style. Department stores have set aside lots of merchandise space to show off huge collections of denim in all different dye colors. (SM tip: If you shop at Dillard’s, don’t forget the third floor to find petite and plus size jeans.)

Spiff up your denim jeans with the newest style—vertical tuxedo stripes. Very cool look.

The contrast of the dressy tuxedo trouser expressed in denim makes for a clever new trend.

Also buy a pair of jeans with slightly wider legs and cuff them. This looks great with ankle boots.

4.  Dresses — Love dresses because they make it so much easier to dress in the morning; no issues with mixing and matching. Designers have gotten smart and are designing dresses with lycra and ruching, which is French for tiny ruffles. This style disguises a multitude of figure concerns. Buy at least one dress this season and dress it up and down with accessories.

Ruching is a French term which means to gather, ruffle, or pleat. When made from stretch fabrics, ruching can help hide figure flaws. The style is flattering on every size and shape.

5. Suits — Pant and skirt suits are finally coming in from the cold. I’m seeing lots of black suits, which could be a reaction to what Claire Danes wears on the Showtime spy thriller “Homeland.” Danes works for the CIA and as such wears black suits with and without white blouses. The look is clean and professional.

Along with catching terrorists, Claire Danes could be spear- heading the return of the pant suit.

What not to buy

These are both tirades and tips.  

1.  Sequins be gone — I have had just about enough of all the embellished tops that continue to be displayed in the women’s department… You know what I’m talking about — the ones covered by swirling colors topped with sequins, studs and glitter. At first the trend was interesting, but now it’s just plain boring. 

2.  From the fringe to front and center — I’m seeing fringe on purses and boots, and it’s making me nervous. Fringe is for Davy Crockett, folks, not for fashionistas. Walk away from the fringe or I might be tempted to tell you how Davy killed him “a bar” when he was only three.

3.  Ditto for stripes — Style Matters is beginning to feel like a zebra. The stripe thing has just about worn out its welcome.

4.  Oversized tops — Honestly, these don’t look good on anyone. The styles with dolman sleeves are the least flattering. Whose idea were these tops?  

5.  Ripped denim — No more faux worn looking jeans. This trend is on life support. Dark denim is much more sophisticated and professional looking. A rule of thumb: the lighter the jean color, the more casual the look.

See you in the aisles.

Note: Style Matters will be happy to answer questions from the personal to the global regarding fashion.  Email me at Should your letter garner my respect, we might even publish it with your permission of course.

Judie Schwartz, whose Style Matters columns appear in The Colorado Statesman, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at Schwartz presents seminars on the importance of a professional image, shopping tips and fashion trends. She can be reached at: • 
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