From pleated pants to ponchos, get fall's must-have styles
Meat dress aside, it would be nice to be able to rock it like Lady Gaga, who never seems to wear the same outfit twice.
But let’s get real: to bring your wardrobe up to speed, you’re going to have to focus on a few killer new pieces that you can wear in myriad ways.
We looked at fall’s coolest trends—from ponchos to pleated pants—and scoured the city for the hometown designers producing the goods. We’ve narrowed it down to four must-have pieces that will place you squarely on fall’s cutting edge, and yet serve as smart investments. And none of them, by the way, are made from meat.
The Pleated Pant
With all things ’80s making a comeback, pleats were bound to return. But this time out, they’re sleeker and more flattering, smaller and tailored at the waistline, and feature ultraskinny legs. We like them with blouses tucked in and either high-heeled booties or brogue oxford flats.
Sofia Clothing’s black Melissa pants get the silhouette just right and the fabric is the icing. Made from a fine Italian wool that has just a touch of stretch, these babies fit in all the right places and don’t bulge at the pleats—which are neatly structured at three per side.
“They feel beautiful and there’s a nice strength to the fabric,” says designer Sofia Mendez Schenone. “I personally like more of a straight leg: it’s more flattering and allows you to wear high heels. And I do like pockets—with your hands in them you create a new shape.”
They’re cuffed and dressy enough to wear from the office out for the evening. “I would definitely wear something tucked into them,” Mendez Schenone advises. “I like the blouse or shirt tucked in the front but not necessarily in the back.” She adds the trousers could also look great with a chunky sweater.
The Melissas come in dark grey and grey tweed, $180, arriving soon at Dream (311 West Cordova Street) and Little Dream (1666 Johnston Street, Granville Island).
The poncho made a major swish across the fall 2011 runway shows for big designers like Rag & Bone, DKNY, Gucci, Alexander Wang, and Chloe. It’s a look that’s been resurrected before, but this time it’s roomier and longer, with versions spanning fringe-y Golden Era Stevie Nicks looks to more tailored Sherlock Holmes capes. Wear them with skinny pants, pencil skirts and tights, or just jeans.
Check out Gentle Fawn Clothing’s cozy Frame poncho, a perfect West Coast spin on the style, casual yet sophisticated like the rest of the hip Vancouver line’s autumn collection. Made out of a sinfully soft loop terry, it closes under each arm with a button to make almost-sleeves. In the back, there’s a cute full-size hood, with slightly retro-rockin’ nailhead details along the neckline. A zipper allows you to wear it closed or open like a cape.
“This collection was going for a winter-fall, cabin-meets-’70s aesthetic,” explains Fawn’s brand manager Christine Pallen. “You can wear a lot of our flowy tops underneath it and it’s just really nice and drapey.”
The Frame comes in either heather-vanilla or charcoal grey, $120 at stores like Plenty (various locations).
The Tunic Dress
Sorry die-hard pants-wearers: you need to have a dress this season. But don’t worry—the most versatile ones aren’t frou-frou affairs. They’re structured, and can be worn as easily with brightly hued nylons as chunky knit tights and leggings. If it helps, think of them as really long shirts.
Your fall go-to dress has got to be the Soda dress in the just-launched Pillar by Allison Wonderland ecoline. Available in a goes-with-everything charcoal denim, it has little details that set it apart: a button at the neck, and pleating at the neckline, shoulders, and cuffs. The hem line comes up slightly on each side, like a shirt. Best of all, it’s made from hemp and recycled polyester.
You can wear it with or without a belt. Picture it with high boots or feminine ballet flats; pair it with Pillar’s Sheepish Legs merino-wool-and-cotton leggings.
Pillar, named for the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, marks a new direction for designer Allison Smith (who is also continuing the Wonderland label), but the line still has her signature vintage, feminine touches. “I felt like there were more interesting ecofabrics out there now, and I had a lot of people asking me to do something like that,” Smith tells the Straight. “I thought it was cool because the recycled polyester is basically made from used pop bottles. The fabric has a texture to it and it looks like a regular denim with a bit of a sheen.”
The Soda dress is $189 at stores like Dream (311 West Cordova Street), Little Dream (the Net Loft on Granville Island), and Forsya Boutique (2206 Main Street).
The White Blouse
From specs to pencil skirts, the fall has a lot of pieces that say “sexy-nerdy secretary” (thanks, Tina Fey). The feminine blouse is essential to the look: knotted at the neck, flouncy at the sleeves, lacy, cuffed, pleated, ruffled, crepe-y, or gauzy.
Of all the versions out there, we’re going with Dace’s white Skye blouse here, because of its signature sleekly contemporary but still girly take on the style. The Peter Pan collar is all the rage, and the neat inverted pleats across the chest mean you don’t have to wear anything underneath. In another innovative touch, the buttons don’t go down the front, but down the back.
Best of all, it’s made from a breathable, natural fabric. Dace’s marketing manager Adele Tetangco confirms the Skye is 100 percent cotton, despite its sheer look. “You have to feel it, because it’s really soft—it looks like a silk crepe,” she says. “It’s a material that comes from Italy.”
She adds you can dress it up or down. “People can wear it with high-waisted skirts or trouser pants…or I would tuck it in with high-waisted jeans.” We can also see it played off a men’s blazer, or paired with those pleated pants mentioned above.
The Skye is $180 at Eugene Choo (3683 Main Street). Specs and steno pad not included.