Clothes Minded - Black is the new black

We may still battle 100-degree days for the next few months, but in retail, fall starts immediately after the Fourth of July sales. Neiman Marcus held its fallfashion show last week to clearly and easily outline the must-haves that will keep you up-to-date without looking over-the-top.

For women, black is the new black. You can forget those recent dalliances with chocolate brown or navy and relish a wardrobe where everything matches, resists dirt, and is universally slimming. Effortlessly encompassing themes like military, goth, glam rock, and menswear, the fall runways are in a veritable blackout. The only other color that counts is red, especially in accessories. A red patent-leather shoe, diva-like red lipstick, and a red-and-gold handbag are all you need to punch up your all-black ensemble.

Speaking of menswear-inspired looks, the new suit still consists of shorts, in this case in a small glen plaid or pinstripe, and a matching, fitted, cropped vest over another staple we’re happy to see again, the crisp white shirt. Pair with opaque tights (black!) and a pair of the new solid, stacked-heel shoes.

Jewelry is big, bold, and gold, and there’s lots of it. Gold hardware on bags and belts is a must, and layering several chunky necklaces looks great against everything from soft knits to structured jackets.

I mentioned in a recent column on fashion blasts from the past something like “at least it’s not leggings.” I was in denial. Intersecting two major trends — layering, and anything inspired by Debbie Harry — leggings saturated the runways. My personal feeling is that if you wore leggings the first time around, skip round two. But the folks at Neiman’s had a counter argument. Nouveau girdlers-to-the-stars Spanx make a pair that will confine everything right where you want it. If you must indulge, make sure the leggings end at the narrowest part of your shin, and black only, please. Better yet, if you want to channel more of the ’80s, revive skinny jeans in a faded charcoal grey and a long, skimming, knit tunic.

If this all seems too tame, and you’re ready to rock a big-city runway look, play with proportion. Full, blousy sleeves, super-cinched waists with big belts, puffy skirts, and egg-shaped jackets all bring a modern, architectural appearance. But overall, breathe a sigh of relief that fall fashion is wearable and versatile.

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