There's one simple way to update your wardrobe this fall. Just throw your clothes on your closet floor and mix them all up. Well, maybe that's taking things a bit too far, but fashion designers have come up with some new combinations this season that will definitely have an impact on how some of us put together our outfits every morning.
It's an artful blend of prints and patterns that made the runways buzz with this modern fusion of contemporary style whipped up just in time for fall. Here are some of the latest ways to master the new mix:
Mix assorted patterns in one color palette. Yes, this can be tricky, but follow the lead of designers like Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan who did some of the best "pattern on pattern" combos for fall. Jacobs teamed Fair Isle sweaters with checked skirts in soft grays and tans, while at DKNY, plaid jackets and skirts are layered over geometric-print sweaters in autumnal hues of gold and brown. The key to mixing such diverse prints is to make sure all the pieces blend in the same color family.
Mix your textures. Another modern way to dress -- pair "unlikely" fabrics with each other. In his fall lineup, designer Ralph Lauren takes lightweight floral chiffon dresses and layers chunky cardigan sweaters and menswear coats over them. The fall collection at Burberry Prorsum includes lacy see-through skirts teamed with leather and shearling aviator jackets.
Mixing matte and shiny textures is another mix-master trick. For evenings out, one of my favorite "go-to" outfits is a pair of dark jeans with a black, ruffled chiffon blouse over a black tank. In the fall, I add a shiny, black leather jacket and boots.
Mix your styles. Think outside the fashion box and come up with your own way of combining clothes and accessories. I like to mix animal prints into my wardrobe. For summer, I layer black-and-white polka dots with black-and-white zebra prints; in fall and winter, I switch to leopard prints layered with accents of red. Roberto Cavalli's fall collection plays up a mixture of animal prints layered with dramatic red coats -- a definite inspiration for my own closet.
Mix masculine with feminine. This is one of the best ways to update a "suit" for work. Many designers have incorporated menswear looks into their collections this year, bringing back the streamlined tailoring loved by minimalist fashion followers. Inject some feminine flair into these pieces with flirty shirts or soft skirts. A chiffon blouse with a tweed suit is always a "do" for office dressing.
Mix your "eras." Don't be afraid to mix a few vintage pieces into your fall wardrobe. There's still plenty of "granny grunge" out there from the '90s to layer under a tailored jacket for more of a bohemian touch. One "funky" piece at a time, please. Wacky can quickly become tacky.
Mix your accessories. This is one of the easiest ways to amp up the style factor in your wardrobe during any season of the year. This fall, a big trend statement for the young at heart is wearing pointy-toe shoes with ankle socks. Booties worn with patterned tights is another fashion favorite. One colorful handbag will also do wonders in dressing up your basics. And don't forget those furry finishing touches showing up in abundance.
Mix your metals. Metallics are one of the best ways to get the look of the new modern mix. Antique bronzes, smoky pewters and rich coppers all complement fall's warmer color palette. Don't be afraid to mix your metals when layering on necklaces, bangles and rings. Experiment with adding some antique jewelry with your newer pieces and pile it on. More is definitely better.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.