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Thursday, August 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
You need tweed: This fall's fashion must adds miles to your wardrobe
By Pamela Sitt
If you buy one thing to update your wardrobe this fall, make it a tweed jacket.
That's the easy part. This season, it's not just about what you wear, but how you wear it.
"This is the season in which all the extras are really important, and so tweed is a great base for that," said Sally Singer, fashion news features director for Vogue magazine. "It has texture and a wonderful old-fashioned quality, so when you add to it you're adding culture to culture and showing just how nuanced and interesting and classy you are, even if you're just wearing it with jeans."
All that, in just one jacket? That's what a statement piece should do for you.
Of course, tweed per se is nothing new. But the profound influence of the classic Chanel jacket has emerged this fall wearing bits of fur, fringe, beading and velvet.
"It's not just a tweed jacket, but a tweed jacket with a kind of deconstructed edge," Singer said. "The embellishments take it somewhere new."
Unlike previous years that saw everyone clamoring for the "It" item of the moment, this season puts a premium on personal style. That's not something money can buy, but here's the next best thing: Hire a personal stylist. Jocelyn Kessler, a local image consultant by way of Manhattan, suggests customizing a mass-produced jacket by replacing buttons or changing the lining.
"You could get a tweed jacket from the Gap and say, 'I love this jacket, but five of my girlfriends have it too,' " Kessler said. "Then you find some great vintage-looking buttons or buy a great silk lining and all of a sudden, look what you've done with it.
"If you're talking about individuality and uniqueness, that's what it does. It gets you involved in your fall fashion."
This season's tweed is versatile. It can be worn with denim, leather, silk or satin, metallics, even plaids or contrasting tweed. Channel Ralph Lauren in a fitted tweed jacket and full skirt for a very feminine look, or go edgier by pairing tweed with a lacy camisole and boyish slouchy trousers.
"I think it looks really modern, the way it's being mixed up, and not worn head-to-toe," said Jennifer Wheeler, director of designer apparel at Nordstrom. "What's nice about it is it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. It really can work for anyone."
Kessler, the personal stylist, has even been known to pair designer tweed with sweatpants.
"When I go to yoga, I'll throw my Chanel jacket on with my Juicy sweats and a tank-top," she said. "I'm not saying to break every rule, but if we're talking about getting the most out of your buck, how do you do that tweed jacket? You can do it any which way you want."
Even better, as one of fall's top trends, a tweed jacket can be had for just about any price point you want. Nordstrom's juniors department carries them starting at about $50; designer jackets can cost upward of $4,000. Club Monaco's selection includes a tweed blazer trimmed in velvet ($199) and a cropped boxy jacket ($179). Gap next month will have a fitted tweed blazer for about $90; Sears has a black-and-cream jacket and matching skirt for $64 and $38, respectively. Express' functional $140 version will hit stores in September.
"I think any time you're buying a classic piece, you should splurge because you want a good fabric that will wear well," said Singer, the Vogue editor. "How you wear it will change over the seasons, but it is not going to go out of style."
The most important thing is to choose a jacket that suits you. A narrow jacket with a nipped waist is quite fashionable for a petite frame; an athletic figure with broad shoulders might try a more boxy, classic Chanel shape. Many moderately-priced stores, including Banana Republic and Club Monaco, offer custom tailoring to ensure a proper fit take advantage of it.
Other particulars: The most fashion-forward can pull off the bracelet-length sleeve, which hits right at the wrist try layering over long sleeves and chunky jewelry. The color to wear this season is purple, in rich shades of eggplant and plum. But again, stick with what works on you and what feels like you.
"What this season is not about is glaring designer credits. This is not a season to wear logos. It's much more interesting this season," Singer said. "In a weird way, it's bizarrely democratizing, because a teenage girl can wear a velvet purple jacket over ripped jeans and a blouse and look like a rock star that Kate Moss sense of style that's eclectic and interesting.
"It's a very easy piece to wear. Put a tweed jacket over anything and you look chic. There's no question about it."
Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or email@example.com
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