Originally created 09/22/96

Beauty in the Beast



Women of all ages and sizes are making a beeline for anything feline this fall.

Besides the big cats - tiger, cheetah and leopard prints - there are zebra stripes, giraffe markings, snakeskin and even bovine patterns.

The animal kingdom stampede is just the beginning.

Fall fashions also come alive with passionate colors: reds, purples, scarlets, aubergines (eggplant) and burgundies, said Sheila Kamensky of Atlanta, fashion director of Rich's, Lazarus and Goldsmith's stores.

"Passion colors are the color story of the season. We'll see reds and purples in all variations this fall. You can't go wrong with a black-and-white print, but for a new look add a jolt of unexpected hot color. You can try a zebra-print jacket with a red collar or a leopard-print knit top with an orange scarf," she said.

Passion colors include roses, wines, plums, pinks and lilacs. pumpkins and golds add a fresh autumn look.

You'll risk looking beastly unless you wear animal prints with moderation.

"Don't go wild," Ms. Kamensky said. "Animal prints mix well with a mock crocodile or chain belt, or tortoise-shell sunglasses or headband."

A variety of animal-print belts, scarves and watches are available to add an untamed touch to your solid pieces.

Passion colors should also be paired with a natural, nude or sheer black leg, with black, brown or same color shoes. With an animal print, try heeled loafers or moccasins, or even a pair of shoes trimmed in mock skin.

The newest trend in this year's fall fashion is flat-front pants, said Erica Carpenter, assistant manager at Ann Taylor at Augusta Mall.

"We have cotton chino pants in khaki and in wool. They come with a single pleat instead of the double pleat, which give a lean look. They are a little more slimming than a full trouser, where the full trouser can disguise things and can add a little weight. But they're not like the slip pants that clung to your body like last year," she said.

Popular colors for the fall are brown, camel and black, with accessories in mango, citron and lilac, she said.

Skirts can be short or long, straight or full.

"There are very different shapes for skirts this season because different shapes flatter different people and the designers are finally realizing that," Ms. Carpenter said.

Suits are a must, whether they are pantsuits, dress suits or skirt-and-jacket combinations. But jackets are more fitted and a little longer, Ms. Carpenter said.

Marion White, fashion director for J.B. White & Co., said this will be a sweater year, with snowflake and winter patterns like those in ski sweaters.

In fabrics, the emphasis is on technological advances, said Rich's Ms. Kamensky.

"Nylon will be seen in new fabric blends for outwear looks, and stretch has been added to make silhouettes more comfortable. Silks will be in fall colors, from lime-green to pumpkin to dramatic red," she said.

For career looks, traditional wools and boucles work well, while newer fabrics, silks and stretch velvets make a great social statement, she said.

Ms. Carpenter said texture is really hot for fall. Angora blends, corded silk, wool blends, corduroy, leather and suede can be worn for career or casual wear.

Shoes are still chunky and interesting, Ms. White said.

"Suede shoes and boots with chunky or interesting shaped heels are going to be popular," she said. "They come with buckles, zippers and stretch fabrics."

Jewelry is gaining more momentum this year, with y-necklaces, long necklaces and pins, Ms. White said.

"Women are going to enjoy shopping again because the clothing is not gimmicky," she said. "It's feminine again, with dressmaker details and shaping and quality evident without being extreme. Clothes are going to give the body shape without making the woman uncomfortable."

Top 10

 Here are 10 essential things to add to your wardrobe this fall:

  1. Silk, high-V-layering knit shirt

  2. Stretch velour turtleneck

  3. Chenille button-front knitwear with a collar

  4. Black leather jacket or vest

  5. Corduroy pants in bright color, khaki, black or brown

  6. Twill slim-leg pant in khaki, brown, hunter green or burgundy

  7. Silver link bracelets or a silver watch

  8. Rings with large stones

  9. Heeled moccasin or loafer in mock crocodile or lizard

  10. Bright outerwear in nylon or microfiber