In the latest fashions shows all the models wore large necklaces and wrists-full of bracelets made of wood or shells and had their hair done in loose, gentle upsweeps. The black-and-white Beatnik style is back, aimed at the 16-25 age group, severe and pared down, a complete about-turn...gone is casual, throw-it-all-together, ethnic school of style, with last season's Bohemian look making but a brief showing. We saw sequined dresses, halters and shrugs in purple, green and gold; swimwear followed the metallic theme: women wore tiny silver and gold bikinis, while men wore shorts or swimsuits in colorful prints. Last season's Bohemian look made a brief showing.
Many of the formal dresses were updated versions of more classic styles. A simple off-white knee-length strapless gown was accented with a skirt of tulle ruffles around the waist. A long purple evening gown was slit up the front with a cloud of feathers beginning at the knee.
Steer clear of flat black - the key element is the combination of black and white, such as a crisp, white shirt with a pair of well-cut black trousers, and look for rich fabrics such as satin, silk and velvet; black and white-striped mohair sweater-dresses, worn over tights or very fitted jeans, worn with black ballet slippers, patent slippers or with knee-high black boots; black wool cropped jackets and pea coats; Beatnik-style black caps; black eyeliner and mascara; sunglasses and straight hair.
The hourglass silhouette is already a key look for this winter but if you don't have a tiny, well-toned frame, choose less fitted silhouettes, and add narrow, leather belts, retro-style shoes, vintage handbags and opulent fur, a striped Pompom scarf.
Pompom decoration is a designer look and very easy to make yourself. Back in style is the Sixties-inspired wool shift, with a Chanel touch and in solid colors such as a white shirt and oversized black blazer, and rather than a revival of androgyny it is simply a question of comfort and ease; black mini-skirt with over-the-knee boots; or a striped top or sweater [with a pair of skinny black pants.
Dresses have been the featured item in the latest fashion shows; 'The Wrap' dress is making a comeback, and is not in a boudoir-inspired style, but a dress with a waist, a neckline, a skirt and - most importantly - sleeves. The new autumn collections are full of dresses with sleeves of every shape and size - three-quarter length, cuffed, long and tight, full and belled, raglan and puffed, many in a print pattern such as paisley print, on a long-sleeved dress. Prints in shades of green, orange, pink and purple dominated the beginning of the show. Shorts and skirts came in bright patterns that echoed back to the 1950s and 1960s. Modern technology, with improvements in jersey fabrics and stretch, makes a dress really comfortable to wear. Many younger women want an all-in-one solution for work and business travel, rather than a skirt and top or a suit.
Fall/Winter 05/06 has accents of color combined with regal fabrics. Black is not minimalist black as in the 1990s; rich deep plush velvet, black satin, black lace and black just accented with white or red is the look for 2005. Black silk, black gauze, Persian lamb, black taffeta, penne velvet black denim, black cashmere, black jet, corduroy, black suede and Shear ling add touches of sophistication and glamour to new trends. Main colors are deep rich violet purples, wine reds, burnt ginger tones, moss greens, mustard, and teal. The basic solid black and white can be very sharp and smart, plus grays and oyster shell tones.
British country style tweeds have been out in force, but this year tweed is less textured. It looks more like Harris Tweed, flat plaids or old familiar checks such as black and white hound's tooth checks. This is a look that can continue into night with sequins used to create the contrast; boldly vibrant colored checks, colorful tartans and tweeds are all used in coats, dresses and skirts that are loose-fitting with flowing folds of fabric, or with a Roman touch with lines of gold appliqué. Ironically, these heritage fabrics and shapes should be worn in a quirky way, jumbled up, mixing Argyle knits with tartans, plaids and stripes. Or you could borrow from the men, Ralph Lauren-style, and wear slouchy tweed trousers with brogues and oversized knits; and boucle tweed suits in the 50s style.
Intarsia in knitwear is back again, such as Fair Isle, ikat, bold abstract and paisley arrangements. Long cardigan jackets cardigan and asymmetric cardigan wraps and coats often have fur collars or a narrow fur edge; Aran knits, not usually in the traditional cream but in richer deep shades of creams, teal and rust feature in many collections.
Luxurious rich fabrics and antique brocade fabrics, often interpreted with Ombre dyed materials like velvets that move through related colors such as burnt orange merging with reds through to claret in Ombre dyed velvet. Such velvet is then over printed in toning colors or textured with embroidery. Velvet can also have texture and appliqué and is generally gorgeous this winter with an antique vintage feel. Metallic luster and rich satins and the plushest of velvets bring a new opulence to winter. In addition to rich plush velvet there will be penne velvet, corduroy, suede, Shear ling, leather reptilian skins, boiled wool, suiting. Designer shoes frequently have lace and beading and if they are not velvet, they may just as easily be made of suede another luxury material.
The best styles to look for are wide-leg cuffed trousers, short, swingy jackets and slim skirts, totes and bucket bags, flat lace-up brogues, flora and fauna prints. The 'in' colors are black and white, beige, orange, gorgeous greens and often have crochet motifs added - also a lot of purple tones in tartan skirts, fur coats.
Just remember that black in 2005 is no longer the only look to wear. The fabrics in rich deep berry and gem jewel colours may do far more for your coloring than black ever might. Berry colors and purples will be a wonderful choice instead of black or as an accent color. Cubist paint techniques as prints will lead us into Spring 2006 and stencil print effects will be popular.
Leave behind gypsy skirts, kaftans, tribal jewellery, military jackets, waistcoats, drainpipes, crocheted shrugs and warrior belts [finally!].
Margot B is a journalist, writer and Web site designer, has written a book, plus 100s of articles on topics ranging from health and the environment to Web site design...published on the Internet and in the print media; numerous magazines and newspapers.