Fall fashion trends offer some surprises

Simple Style
Robe coats: cuter than you think, and other fall trends

I'm planning an October trip to Italy and have become obsessed with fall fashion a little early.

Italy has one of the most vibrant fashion cultures in the world, so this is high-stakes. I spend my days dreaming of beautiful coats, boots and dresses.

Here's the problem. Fall fashion is a little ... scary. There's a very unusual and seemingly contradictory assortment of looks coming down the runway, and somehow, gray knitwear has ended up in the same fall trend reports as '60s-inspired pieces. (Lots of style watchers have even had the nerve to call "normcore" a trend, which basically means you can still wear a boring, neutrally-colored, menswear-inspired suit.)

By the time runway trends reach the masses, they do start to become more wearable and make a little more sense. And all is not lost this year. Below I've listed a few of the trends I'm scouting for fall and how they'll integrate with my existing pieces.

Fall brights and pastels

Normally, I have to retire my bright colors for fall. Not this year. This year's Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid, is a decidedly springy hue that would usually at least have been darkened prior to the fall fashion season. This year, it gets to stick around, along with bright red, cobalt and sangria. There are even a couple of "fall pastels," lighter purple and soft yellow, in the palette.

Fall's neutral color of choice is gray, and gray is exactly how you'll make these bright hues look appropriate for fall. Dark gray can pair with the pastels, and light gray with the bolder colors, to ensure that your look isn't too summery. Your other choice, as usual, is denim.


Sure, knits for fall are not that big a deal. However, there are two unique aspects of this year's knitwear.

The first is that some pieces come as pants. I'm not going to touch this one without more information. Consider yourself warned. The second and far more desirable aspect is that hemlines are longer, which is going to make sweater dresses super chic. A slim, knit dress that extends a few inches below the knee is flattering and works both for the office and the weekend.

A reminder: When buying wool, it's important to look at the quality, because things can get itchy otherwise.

Robe coats

Here's an actual conversation I had about robe coats. The male in question shall remain nameless. Anonymous male: "I do not like robe coats." Me: "You don't?" Male: "They look terrible." Me: "Do you know what a robe coat is?"

Turns out he had looked it up on Google, and while I appreciate the effort, I don't think the images he found did justice to the trend in question.

In order to wear a robe coat well, look for a classic, solid color like black or camel, and avoid the contrasting hue on the collar you'll find in a lot of examples. These coats are expensive and last a while, so they should be timeless.

Capes were in a few years ago, and if you bought a great neutral that matches a lot of stuff in your wardrobe, you're probably still wearing that thing. The shape is less popular, but it still looks good and keeps you warm.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at kristyn@simplestyleguide.com, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)


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