Plenty of fall trends give shoppers lots of options

If the abrupt cold weather last week didn’t put you in a fall frame of mind, we don’t know what will. Oh, wait. Yes, we do: 2011 fall fashion.

It’s here in all its glory, waiting for you to decide which trends will last and which will decorate the clearance racks well before Halloween.

Fall runways showed a mishmash of different themes and directions. The diversity means more options for the consumer, but it also translates to less of a moment for any one look. For instance, skirt hemlines saw mini, midi and maxi lengths. Some were slitless, others (Christian Siriano and Diane von Furstenberg) had slits up to there. And that’s just the skirts.

Still, retailers have managed to target a few looks they expect shoppers to warm up to. And, preliminary shopping has already identified a few standouts.

Over at Saks Fifth Avenue, posh pantsuits mark a powerhouse trend. Yes, they’re traditionally connected with masculinity and boring board meetings, but not this season’s take on the pantsuit.

“They’re tailored for feminine shapes and constructed in luxe fabrications from finely woven wool to the softest velvet,” says Debbi Miles, marketing director for Saks Fifth Avenue at Fashion Show mall.

Women will enjoy the way these suits feel as much as everyone else will enjoy the way they look.

Menswear on a whole had a strong presence on fall runways. Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana both showed this look with meticulous tailoring. The boyfriend blazer so popular in season’s past takes a fitted turn, making for less bulk and more shape.

Miles expects fur detailing to have great appeal for its wearability and the way it specifically translates here in Vegas. “A fur vest can serve as outerwear here,” she says. “Plus, many of the jackets have detachable collars that can get multiple uses by pairing it with a sweater or dress.”

Fur was big with Proenza Schouler, Peter Som and Gucci. Miles points out that consumers can execute this trend with faux or real fur.

One trend that doesn’t want to go anywhere is animal print. It keeps showing up in new ways every season and shoppers haven’t grown bored of it just yet. Miles says to expect python motifs on ready-to-wear and the ubiquitous leopard print shows up everywhere else.

As for consumers dealing with hard-hit economic times, for Saks customers it has translated to more thoughtful shopping. Women are satisfied with simple enhancements to their wardrobe, rather than buying an entire new collection. They still aren’t ready to go for predictable, though. “They want functional and trendy,” says Miles, “not necessarily classic. I think the Las Vegas shopper is very stylish and she continues to shop the trends.”

One thing is certain, the recession opened shoppers’ minds to a new way of doing things. In many cases that meant new places to shop, which could explain the success of Patty’s Closet. The trendy, budget-friendly women’s boutique will open its sixth store at Town Square in November.

Owner Patty Barba expects three trends to rule the roost at her boutique this fall: the maxi skirt, lace details and tailored jackets. Why?

“We’re seeing lots of chunky sweaters with maxi skirts,” Barba says. “I’m loving the tops with all lace backs and tailored jackets tuck in all the right places so you can still look skinny.”

The ladylike look – with its pleated skirts, choker necklaces and ruffle details — is a nice relief from the New Jersey look that young women on the club scene gravitate toward. Even the soft neutral colors, Barba says, are a break from the loud and proud tones that can look garish if not executed well.

Mustards and blue hues are also big at Patty’s Closet. As are polka dots, which Barba has noticed tend to trade shifts with stripes in terms of trendiness. And, tribal prints take on a more geometric look.

She expects the ’80s to tone down while the ’70s, and its wide-leg pants, amp up. Her favorite look for the new season, however, are the cropped, tapered pants that consumers have shied away from in past seasons.

“I think people think they’re frumpy,” she says. “But they can really show your body off.”

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