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The biggest trends for women this season: what they are and how to style them

| Senior Fashion Columnist

From time to time a new trend appears, but it is more common for old trends to return. Layering and wearing leather jackets and shades of brown have always been associated with fall fashion. Spring 2011’s shift toward the 1940s femme and the 1970s bohemian have persisted into the colder parts of the year, as designers turn to these two powerful decades of fashion. Here are the most talked about trends coming our way this season, from outerwear to accessories:


Capes and ponchos
Pea coats are nice but a tad stale. This season, take inspiration from Sherlock Holmes when choosing a fall coat. Capes and ponchos in tartan, patchwork and solid colors were hot both on runways and store racks. This style of outerwear is easy to throw on and can be worn in both formal and informal settings, depending on what’s underneath. For a more formal look, pair a cape with a pencil skirt, ribbed stockings and ankle boots, keeping the bottom half of your outfit slim and sleek. For a more casual look, pair a cape with skinny jeans or riding pants and add flat boots or an ankle boot.


Lady-like tweed in new colors
Alice + Olivia showed tweed skirts, blazers and overcoats in shades of red, pink, black and, of course, white. The trick to making tweed not seem dated or too “old-lady” is to mix it in with looser-fitting fabrics or unexpected materials. Pair a loose-fitting blouse with a structured tweed skirt to make the look more modern. Or wear skinny jeans with your fitted tweed blazer to make the effect more age-appropriate.

Leather in unexpected places
While we’re all familiar with leather jackets and small accessories, this season, designers have created novel ways for fashionistas to don the edgy material. Acne even dared to design leather overalls. If you’re considering this trend, start with a mod leather mini skirt in a classic color like camel or black. Vince and Rachel Comey created skirts in an A-line silhouette, which flatters a majority of body types. Unfortunately, many retailers charge at least three figures for a few strips of cloth. Check out vintage and thrift stores for the best bargain. Once you’ve found your skirt, add a thick sweater and ankle boots and you’re set for the day.

In the jungle
Snakeskin skirts, leopard print clutches, fur vests and feathery collars all populated fall’s runways. Elie Tahari surprised everyone with a snakeskin skirt. For the average college student, however, these wild pieces may be too “out there” to be worn to class. To make these prints more accessible, perhaps use the colors found in nature as a guide for creating a cohesive outfit. Peacock feathers, for example, contain shades of blue, green, brown and black. Create a look using like-colored pieces you already own to enjoy the trend. If you’re ready for a full-on print, consider making that print your accent item and keeping the remainder of your outfit neutral. The fact that leopard print is in doesn’t justify looking like a leopard.

Corduroy 2.0
Designers have updated this classic material for a sleeker silhouette when used for skinny pants or flared pants. J Brand, a popular denim label, offers both options for its clients and for the more price sensitive, check out J.Crew or Kut from the Cloth, a brand sold at Nordstrom. When selecting colors, keep in mind the shoes and coats you plan to wear with your slim pants. If you purchased a new camel coat, don’t pair it with your camel-colored corduroys, unless you’re confident enough to pull off the monochromatic look.

Footwear and accessories

The wedge
One trend continuing on from spring and summer is the wedge, now styled on the soles of many oxfords and ankle boots. Though the wedge is not for everyone, the great thing about this heel is that it is not only highly versatile, but it also provides stability and instant height.

Boxy handbags
Gone are the days of the slouchy boho bag, for now. Following the femme trends of the 1940s, this year’s “it” bag is stiff and structured. For a romantic look, pair this bag with a wispy floor-length skirt and ankle boots. Or wear a structured bag with a pencil skirt for a more classic ensemble. Jil Sander and other designers created boxy bags in a variety of colors and textures. Feel free to experiment with this classic.

Long leather gloves
A few seasons ago, short motorcycle gloves were all the rage. Everyone from celebrities to fashion models wore them. This season, however, gloves are foraying into longer, more feminine lengths. If you’re looking for an edgy way to pull off this trend, look for long gloves in surprising colors; white was Elie Tahari’s choice for fall. Consider wearing these gloves with coat styles ranging from capes during the fall to floor length dusters in the winter.

-Stay stylish and get shopping!