It may still be summer, but Mary Ellen is already making out her list of must-haves for her fall wardrobe. “Skinny pants, cigarette jeans, a pencil skirt, a cowl neck sweater and a short cape coat,” the forty-something advertising consultant reads from her carefully crafted notes. “I think some of the best looks are all about thin on the bottom with more volume on top which really seems to favor my body shape; I am thrilled that these will be the new looks.”

“Think of it as a reverse to the bell curve,” advises Morgan Joseph, an assistant buyer for, a chic online destination. “We are seeing more on top with a thinner bottom. It’s all about a balance between the two and creating a look that is both mod and retro at the same time.”

While such a silhouette echoes thoughts of the Swinging Sixties, there is yet another decade having a decided effect on this fall’s fashions, says Linda DeFranco, a Senior Product Trend Analyst with Cotton Incorporated. “There are some distinct influences from the Eighties, as we are seeing an emphasis on the shoulder and that shape ballooning out and tapering downward,” she observes. “It’s all about that idea of playing with proportion and the actual symmetry of garments and keeping them in balance.”

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

People Often Comment On Clothes
  05Q1 06Q1
Agree 78.6% 78.7%
Disagree 20.1% 19.9%

Women seem to be responding strongly to an offering of these shapely garments. “This season, Luca Luca’s collection is full of exciting silhouettes. Among the bestsellers are a slim, sequined leopard skirt with a baby blue blouson top, luxurious and voluminous jackets, narrow and sexy pants worn with romantic flowing blouses,” shares Yildiz Blackstone, President of Luca Luca. “All these bestselling looks prove that customers embrace the new sleek fall season.” And the look is playing out across all price points.

“One of Gap’s key looks for the season is a longer sweater with a deep v-neck paired with skinny pants or jeans,” tells the retailer’s Style Expert, Sean Krebs. “We are loving the proportion of a larger, slouchier top with a skinny bottom; it looks modern and it’s great for all body types.”

Mary Ellen may likely find herself in fashionable company as an early bird shopper. According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™, one in four female respondents stated that she would be shopping for the latest styles at the beginning of the season, versus waiting for a sale at the end of the season.

“Luca Luca’s fall season at retail began already,” confirms Blackstone. “We are enjoying a double digit increase and a significant sell through rate before the fall season officially begins.”

Layering will be an important element in achieving fall’s proportional look, according to Pink Mascara’s Joseph. “We are seeing a lot of sweaters and oversized knits that are being put over a cotton shirt with the collar and cuffs turned up, then being belted and worn over a slim skirt or a skinny jean.”

There are plenty of ways to layer and denim is absolutely critical to the process, affirms Krebs. “It is all about new silhouettes for fall and Gap is especially excited about our skinny cropped pants inspired by Audrey Hepburn, dark slim jeans, longer deep v-neck sweaters and denim mini skirts worn over leggings. Gap’s washed leather jackets, denim pencil skirts and puffers also look cool.”

A thinner, flattering jean should be on every woman’s shopping list, echoes DeFranco, the trend forecaster. “If I were only buying one pair, I would get one in a rich indigo wash,” she reports, lending credence to Krebs’ recommendation of a skinny, dark jean. “It’s sort of a back to basics philosophy in building your wardrobe for a new season.”

And when it comes to denim, it appears that women will absolutely be considering adding more of it to their wardrobes, whether they actually need to or not. More than three in four female respondents told the Monitor that they might buy one or two, or even several, denim garments in the coming months. That’s a considerable statement given that denim ownership is at an all time high. Female respondents told the Monitor that they own 9.1 pairs of jeans, 3.4 pairs of denim shorts, 1.4 denim jackets and 1.6 denim skirts on average. And, according to the experts, denim’s importance in women’s wardrobes shows no signs of abating.

“The denim mini looks really good right now, particularly with fun hosiery and leggings,” Joseph says. “We are also seeing shorter dresses with a dressed leg and plenty of shorter coats and trenches, belted at the hip for an interesting shape.”

“Fall’s looks will keep the eye going up and down with a selection of beautifully proportionate looks such as a cinching at the waist with an oversize belt or a wrap tie, accenting the leg with a slim fitting bottom, or a shorter fitting coat falling at the midsection,” DeFranco details.

“This season you’ll want to have fun experimenting with volume and scale,” affirms Krebs. As most women know and attest, clothing can say a lot about who you are. More than three in four women told the Monitor that people often comment on their clothing.

Keeping that in mind and keeping it all in proportion appears to be the shape of things to come!

This story is one in a series of articles based on findings from Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor™ tracking research. Appearing Thursdays in these pages, each story will focus on a specific topic as it relates to the American consumer and her attitudes and behavior regarding clothing, appearance, fashion, fiber selection and many other timely, relevant subjects.

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