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JACKETS REQUIRED The essential investment for fall


You already know all of the fashion buzzwords for fall.

Spiffy man-tailored pantsuits with dandy accents. Exotic animal prints on ankle boots, scarves and underwear. Fiery reds. Second-skin leather jeans, leather bustiers. Sleek and soigne black. Nostalgic twin sweater sets right out of the '50s. And, of course, slit, split and leggy long skirts with movie-star platform shoes.

By contrast, the word "jacket" sounds pretty mundane, doesn't it? And, haven't we been referring to The Jacket as a Trend for some three or four seasons now?

Well, The Jacket is again a top trend for fall and, in fact, takes honors as the best investment trend because it plays such an integral part in so many women's lives. It's the workhorse of fashion as it goes out by day and by night, over dresses, skirts, trousers, leggings, jeans -- be they leather or denim.

But, what gives jackets their starring role this season is their variety: they come in numerous guises, from short to long, easy to curvy.

Newest are the long, fitted jackets -- both double- and single-breasted -- that cover the hipline. Some get that extra-smooth fit because the fabric contains just enough spandex to give a little stretch. These extra-long jackets that love the figure are expected to be winners because they work equally well with short and long slim skirts, as well as with pants.

Also fresh-looking are short jackets; some end at the top of the hipbone, others reach just to the waist. These shorter jackets should be appealing to women of all heights who have great figures and, therefore, nothing to hide, but especially so to petite women who can easily be overwhelmed by long or big, loose jackets.

Other jacket styles include novelties such as baseball jackets, often in leather; fit-and-flare (from peplum styles to others that almost look skirt-like); easy-fitting coverups in knits or fleece that might pass for either a sweater or a jacket.

The oversize blazer -- once called "the boyfriend" jacket -- is back, looking new this time when it's worn over another jacket.

Also back is a look from the past that has the blessing of at least two of fashion's major players: Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani. It's the belted jacket, with the belt planted firmly at the waist.

One of the bonuses of buying a new jacket, besides getting the key item of your fall wardrobe, is that it can offer two trends for the price of one. Get one in a dazzling red, in checks, animal spots, chalk stripes or leather and you get two gold stars on your trend list.

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