THIS YEAR, consider building your fall fashion statement from the ground up, feet first. The way to go is to jump on the color wagon of new shoe and leg looks that can bring new drive to a weary wardrobe.
"Color can save you from blahs and save you dollars to boot," says Ellen Campuzano, fashion director for the Committee for Color and Trends, accessories forecasters based in New York.
"The prices of ready-to-wear are getting so outrageous that a basic dress or suit has to last a couple of years. You can take a basic dress, freshen it up with a new $60 pair of shoes and an $8 pair of stockings and you have an entirely new outfit. It's the reason the accessory business has not suffered in recessionary times."
Shoe and hosiery manufacturers are working together, and legwear now comes in more tints than were ever offered in the dyed-to-match card on the bridesmaid circuit -- every shade of red, pink, gold and green.
"The shoe and stocking neutrals continue to carry their weight, but the excitement is in the brights -- lipstick pink, purple, topaz, bordeaux and copper," says Sarah Hoskins, fashion coordinator for Hue legwear.
"And stockings with a deeper color weave, such as a ribbed tight, add bounce to a look worn with a heavier walking shoe or tailored boot. A pin-stripe opaque that seems weekend casual ++ today can be totally suited for the office when winter hits the low chill factors."
Dick Jacobson of the Fashion Footwear Association of New York says the color explosion has touched all styles of footwear -- there are pink western boots, multicolor blocking in pumps and the best suede shades in years.
Even the bright platform is making some inroads, says Jacobson. "The thicker sole is more of an evolution of the comfort shoe -- plastic forms, heavier bottoms -- than the clunkiness of the '60s rigid platform. People will accept elevated shoes if technology can make them comfortable." New shades of Saturday night fever!
And it's easy to get snug and cozy with the new foot looks. Matthew Rudansky, spokesman for Ellen Tracy shoes, says the move is toward more closed silhouettes with a higher cut and cubed heel. "The reason for the straighter heel is that the line follows the leg and balances the legging or trouser line."
Let's stop fooling around and call colors by their real names -- purple, green, red. There has been a trend in inventing exotic names for the color spectrum. We can better serve the consumer by talking primary elements," says Ellen Campuzano,
fashion director for the Committee for Color and Trends, accessories fashion forecasters based in New York.
But how do you get that primary punch? Campuzano has these suggestions for getting more mileage out of your leg looks and accessories:
* Think atonal color blocks -- colors that are closely related but do not really match. For example, if you start with a purple shoe, bring the color up with a shocking pink stocking and a purple skirt.
* In the yellow range, use a red shoe with a yellow leg and repeat the red in the skirt.
* Color is absolutely necessary in career dressing. There's no reason to be mousey in all black. Take last year's black suit and wear it with a purple shoe and stocking. Pick up the the color in a scarf and you have a totally fresh look.
* The true blues and greens will be strong next year. You can recycle that same black suit then with a different accent color, but the added color may be in a turtleneck or gloves.
* Be brave with color, being fashion right is just not as important as it used to be.