They've been waiting patiently for you in stores since earlier this summer: reptilian accessories, slouchy trousers, rugged tweeds and flannels. And now that we've finally felt the first chill, admit it: You're kind of excited to bust out the cool-weather clothes. Luckily, a bunch of this fall's hot styles are made for a city like Chicago, from wax jackets for guys to battle biting winds to over-the-knee lady boots for supreme thigh coverage and warmth. And if your bank account is struggling, rest easy: Half of these "new looks" are already in your closet. Let's all say it together: Look good, stay warm, repeat.
FOR THE LADIES
Trends worth your cash:
Store away the acidic neons you wore to Lolla; the next five months are about super-rich hues like cobalt blue and emerald green. "Bright jewel tones look good on everyone, whether you're a pale redhead or tan brunette," said stylist Heidy Best, owner of fashion consulting firm Be Clothes Minded. Extra points if you can find these shades in fun textures or prints.
Gucci sent a pair of sleek python boots down the runway at their fall show, and since then, pretty much every retailer has gone nuts for lizard skin. Go for accents (belts, booties, ballet flats, a clutch) and unexpected colors such as fuchsia. "Even if you're a plain Jane, a little snakeskin print goes a long way in pulling a look together. It's a subtle way to break out of your shell," said Best.
Since skinny jeans have reigned for like, 100 years at this point, your legs might be confused by the surplus of circulation, but give the slouchy pant a chance. "It's a chic look and it's easy to transition from office to night. Plus they're comfortable— it's like wearing pajamas," said Ashley Zisook, owner of Gold Coast boutique Sofia. Whether they're drawstring, high-waisted or low-riders, pair trousers with a fitted top or tucked in T-shirt.
To get the most bang for your buck, go combat: "Buy these now and they'll carry you through next summer," said Zisook. The more lady-like ankle grazers have fun studded details, cut-outs, or chunky soles, and if you're feeling super-frisky, the supremely impractical cage bootie is hella hot. (Just skip it on a snow day.)
From extreme fur to oversized parkas and look-at-me prints, if you buy one thing this season, make it a bold jacket. You can throw it on over a holey high-school track shirt and no one will be the wiser. If you find a beauty that isn't warm enough, here's a tip: "I always layer my jackets," said Zisook. "I just put a coat over my leather jacket when it gets colder outside."
Shop your closet for:
Waist ruffles are officially the Freddy Krueger of fashion: They just won't die. Which is actually great, because let's be serious: "It's so flattering," said Best. "Wear a peplum top and you can have that extra appetizer and no one will notice." It scores major points for versatility, too: A peplum top with a skirt looks like a dress, or you can put on trousers for cocktails and then pair with jeans for the weekend.
Faux, vintage, shaggy or sleek, the beastly vest you bought a few years back is still good. Tack on an animal print belt to give it an update, or wear it over a fitted dress for going out. If you want to throw a little cash into something new, get creative: "Pony hair on cuffs and clutches looks really sharp," said Zisook.
Thigh-grazing leather has circled back, but just wait until it's actually freezing to bring these bad boys out. They'll look best paired with a flowy skirt or leggings and boyfriend blazer; skip the butt-hugging skirts or risk veering into streetwalker territory.
Classic menswear prints
Designers went back to the basics with herringbone-, houndstooth-, and glen plaid-covered trenches, skirts and pants on the runway. To avoid looking like Sherlock Holmes, "find classic prints that have modern shapes," said Kelly Golden, who styles a number of Chicago clients in addition to owning Winnetka boutique Neapolitan Collection. "You can even mix patterns if the colors are complimentary."
It sounds strange, but pastels are big for fall. "Soft rose pink is like the new winter white," said Golden. "it used to only be for summer, but now women are wearing it past Labor Day." Dig a knee-grazing skirt or boxy top out of your closet and pair it with neutral shades such as camel, black or even rust to make it feel right for the season.
FOR THE GUYS
Trends worth your cash:
"This is a look that worked for women in years past and now guys are starting to adopt it," said Michael Barkin, director of sales at Chicago-based men's clothing service Trunk Club. Find a soft, buttery hide that's lean and slightly lived-in, and doesn't have a ton of detail or embellishment. Need more convincing? See: Theroux, Justin.
Wine, maroon, oxblood—whatever you want to call this deep hue— it works from now right through Christmas dinner. The high-fashion folks are doing it monochrome, but for everyone else, burgundy works well paired with the other neutrals in your wardrobe, like navy, black and tan.
"Guys are getting comfortable wearing big texture looks like tweed," said Barkin, and the modern offerings are soft and not scratchy. Anyone can pull off a tweed sport coat; just pair it with contemporary accessories such as a knit tie to avoid looking like you just walked out of a college lecture.
Good things come in small doses, and this couldn't be truer for camo, which is making a brief appearance this fall. Find a jacket or pants at the thrift store and pair it with non-reservist items, like a white button-down and cashmere sweater.
Dibs on this trend: We Chicagoans have been swaddling our necks in massive pieces of fabric for decades. "Big scarves are functional; you have to have them in a city like Chicago," said Barkin. Wear a chunky piece of neckwear tied in a tight knot or just wrap it loosely over your shoulders, and don't shy away from fun colors and patterns.
Shop your closet for:
The fashion world is taking cues from Kurt Cobain again this season, with designers such as Saint Laurent going gaga for grunge. "Plaids larger than two inches tend to be more casual, so wear them untucked with a stiff pair of denim or heavy cotton pants or cords," said Barkin.
"Macintosh raincoats and quilted styles are trendy and guys can wear them for a long time," said Grace Marsh, drector of brand communications at Haberdash, which has stores in River North and one coming soon in the South Loop. Have a Barbour wax jacket already? Start wearing it in urban settings and you'll look like a refined outdoorsman.
So they're not for splashing around in the rain, but if you invested in a pair of summer suede shoes, stay armed with them for autumn, said Marsh. "It's really nice twist on the classic oxford." If you go new, look for wingtips and a chunkier heel or even a pair of chukka boots.
If you have access to your grandpa's closet, dig around for button-up cashmeres, chunky sweaters and big checks, said Barkin. "Some of the old school Americana brands that were popular with our grandparents are popular now." There's a good chance the fabric on their old threads is superior to the stuff in stores now, too.
Before you settle into your regular rotation of jeans for the season, yank out a few pairs of cords from the back of your drawer. (The new look is a slim cut, so if they're baggy, take them to the tailor and have 'em tightened up.) No need to limit yourself to camel; colors such as forest green and saffron are big for fall.
Kristen Dold is a RedEye special contributor. email@example.com | @redeyechicago
Models: Olivia Patterson and Louis Zeller/Ford Models Chicago
Clothing available at Macy's on State Street; selected by Macy's By Appointment, the store's free personal shopping service.
On Louis: Burgundy and gray cardigan ($45) and plaid shirt ($65) both by Kenneth Cole Reaction; pants by Theory ($205); wax jacket by Theory ($495); suede chukka boots by Clarks ($150)
On Olivia: Emerald silk top by Nanette Lepore ($178); glen plaid skirt by Jones New York ($109); leather jacket by Rachel Rachel Roy ($279), tights by Hue ($13.50); brown ankle boots with python-print trim by Michael Kors ($198)