Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mixed Signals:

Boy, no wonder the customer is confused these days. I agree with most of Cathy Horyn's observations ("Take a Breath, Let It Out: The Fit's Slim for Fall", Tuesday, March 15th), about the appealing return to classic tailoring in the form of the jacket (and suit). But, that said, all this inferring that certain things are 'in' or 'out' just further confuse the already confused customer who has come to fear - or has just learned to accept - that as soon as she purchases something, it will no longer be relevant in about 6 months (or less), and she will be out there searching for the next big thing (whatever that may be).

And the quote from Bergdorf Goodman's Robert Burke, "There has been so much emphasis on individual style and eclecticism, and I think designers and customers are gettting tired of the fur stole, the brooch and so on. A simple tailored suit looks refreshing" sends the wrong signals and doesn't help either. Why does one have to chose between a beautifully simple suit AND individual eclecticism? Why must the two elements be mutually exclusive? Can't they happily co-exist? The idea is be able to integrate all those wonderful things you own and love (and have collected), into your existing wardrobe.

Unfortunately, the one thing a designer, retailer, or a fashion magazine can't do for the customer is to teach her to when, where, and how to wear something. She has to figure it out herself. Most importantly, it's up to the customer to understand the idea of 'appropriate' (what is appropriate for one's age, bodytype, lifestyle, occupation, situation, etc.). There's a time and place for that suit, and a time and place for something more boho, eccentric, folkloric, etc. And by the way, who said the brooch and fur stole is 'out'? (Certainly not Anne Slater whose signature is always a wonderful brooch of some sort). Anna Sui's wonderfully madcap fall runway, which happily looked different from many others owing to her signature pile-on of accessories (chains, belts, AND brooches) further prove that it's not what is worn, but how it is worn that makes the difference.

And of course, I can't forget that not too long ago, in a column that ran during the New York Collections, Ms. Horyn made a wonderful tongue in cheek suggestion of what one might wear in order to avoid looking like everyone else this fall. Well, by definition then, perhaps, if you truly want to stand out, you may want to stay clear of the color black, belted coats, fitted tailored suits and opt for individual eclecticism, that brooch and fur stole.

- Marilyn Kirschner

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