It’s Inherited
Fall fashion’s senior moment

By Amelia Rasmus

Imagine raiding a rich grandmother’s closet. You’d find shapely suits from her days as a ‘40s socialite, ladylike sweater sets and pencil skirts worn to host ‘50s teas and the sparkly dresses that rustled through ‘60s cocktail parties. You’d even find the gold-chain belt she’s partial to these days. And, of course, more baubles, bangles and beads than you can carry.

The major looks for fall borrow heavily from gram’s wardrobe.

Clutching crocodile purses, dripping with jewels and sparkling in gold, runway models are decked out in what look like the spoils of a sprawling estate.

With dazzling accessories at the center of attention, clothes serve as a very stylish backdrop.

Old money? New money? Designers don’t care. “Granny chic” embraces the prim pieces from New England matrons as well as flashy items from Palm Springs retirees.

“That looks like something my grandmother would wear” has become the ultimate compliment.

So, tuck a hankie up your sleeve and step into your sensible, round-toe shoes. Following are just a few of fall’s grand-dame grand slams.

Pink and yellow flecks, gaudy accessories and a fun-print lining perk up the classic Chanel suit.


Fall’s belts do so much more than hold up pants — they’re jewelry for your waist.

Chain and stud belts with Versace-logo buckles punch up tweed suits, white pants and slim pencil skirts.

The St. John collection features belted jackets, with gold chains glinting at the closure as well as a shimmering swathe of silver chain mail slung low on the hip.

Feminine bows of velvet cinch the waists of almost everything Marc Jacobs — dresses, blazers, even fur coats.

Bows also are big on the Dolce & Gabbana runway, where ribbons tie on a yellow-lace coat and encircle evening gowns. And gold chains bring an urban edge to tidy, tight skirts.

For Oscar de la Renta, a wide cummerbund of ethnic-looking gold disks is the center of attention in an ensemble of neutrals.

At Chanel, belt loops be damned, as multiple ropes of chains, beads and leather swing far below the waistline.


Shoes are similarly fancy. Gone are the wickedly pointy stilettos of the past few years. Taking their place are charmingly retro round-toed pumps.

Like a miniature corset, the vamp of a pair of Marc Jacobs pumps laces up the instep with ribbon. Others are trimmed in gold spectator detailing and crocodile.

Prancing down the runway at Chanel are such confections as ruffled booties and sandals with a swingy ring of pearls wrapped around the heel.

A wide, gold band shines at Oscar de la Renta.


Catching everyone’s eye are brooches. No modest pins, these big, blingy numbers are the size of a woman’s palm and adorn everything from suits to stoles.

Clusters of rhinestones, drop pearls, silver and gold, in shapes from bows to Roman crosses, crust the shoulders of Versace sweaters and jackets. A multimetallic piece clings to the collar of DKNY’s chunky, off-the-shoulder sweater.

Brooches even accent eveningwear. Chiffon meets sparkle in the cleavage of St. John’s royal-blue gown. For the Gucci redux of the label’s own white, cut-out jersey dress, the minimalist silver buckle of the ‘90s version has been updated with a doorknocker of gold embellishment.

A handful of bejeweled brooches dress up a Versace sweater set.


While there is no purse-of-the-moment this season, the fashion-conscious won’t be caught without a seriously stylish bag.

Clutches have made a comeback. Bright yellow ones show up in both the Chanel and Versace lines.

Gucci’s are covered in logos, crocodile and fur. St. John’s clutches feature prints, beads and studs.

Ranging in size from a hard-back novel to a cigarette case, the Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche purses come in furry, engraved, golden metal and bejeweled versions.

Whatever purse you choose, make sure it isn’t made of plain, black leather. No fall bag should be without color and texture.

Chanel signatures, such as classic tweed and quilted leather, are mixed in with furry pouches in hot red (with matching trimmed gloves) and acid green. An uncharacteristically conservative outfit at Versace gets revved up by a studded, red doctors’ satchel.

The St. John collection boasts a shoulder bag covered in feathers and a roll bag tricked out with sequins and beads.

Dolce & Gabbana handbags are gilded with gold rings, buckles and chains.

A St. John bag is covered in feathers.


This fall’s suits are classic but not stodgy. Tweed is the fabric of choice for these outfits.

A black-and-white St. John suit has flirty details, such as girlish pleats, a bow belt and a fringe-edged jacket.

The tweed-suit experts at Chanel reinvented their signature plaid, which is sweetened with candy colors and lined with playful prints.

Slightly puffed sleeves and a ruffled jacket soften the edge of Gucci’s nipped, curve-hugging, black-satin suit.

Black, furry threads trim the edges of an ivory Oscar de la Renta skirt and jacket.

Ruched YSL Rive Gauche ensembles in gem-toned satin seem to slither around the female form, enhanced by strong, “Dynasty”-style shoulders.

Skirts aren’t the only stars of these outfits.

Jil Sander’s white pants and peacoat make for a crisp, mod combination.

Also, a velvet pantsuit from Dolce & Gabbana is a luxurious alternative to an evening dress.

St. John’s plaid ensemble is a suit with all the trimmings.


What goes better with suits than blouses?

Edwardian ruffles spring from the collar of a Chanel top.

A white, high-collared Jil Sander blouse is part of a sexy-secretary ensemble when paired with a clean, black skirt and tights.

White lace peeks out from the neckline and cuffs of a St. John coat and foams along the collar of a curvy, black suit.

A sheer and shiny, striped Marc Jacobs blouse ties at the neck and tops a skirt of lavender, one of the season’s most ubiquitous colors. Another shirt, of pink-and-beige print, demurely tucks into a cream-colored cardigan.

Jil Sander’s modest blouse is crisp and ladylike.


Listen to your mom this fall — always take a sweater.

Favored by ‘50s housewives, modern sweater sets look practical and polished.
Straight from a country-club luncheon, Versace’s cartoon-red cardigan hugs the shoulders. A bright-yellow twinset, worn atop a plain, white blouse, is the perfect foil for graphic, black-and-white plaid trousers.
Knit ponchos are everywhere this season.
From the mall to faraway runways, these toppers cut a dramatic figure.
With a nod to ‘70s style, a purple, fringed Michael Kors poncho grazes the thigh and makes a rock-and-roll accompaniment for fur-trimmed boots.
More city than country, St. John’s black-and-white, animal-print poncho is accessorized with a furry collar and leather gloves.
The large proportions of Chloe’s flowing poncho, edged with stripes in shades of chocolate, are balanced by knee-high boots worn over snug-fitting jeans.
Similar in silhouette, DKNY’s caramel-colored, oversized sweater is big enough to slip off the shoulder but looks anything but baggy when paired with riding-tight pants and equestrian boots.

An oversized DKNY sweater offers a glimpse of skin.


This season, designers have given the soiree set plenty of make-a-scene options.

With lines similar to an ink drawing, the skirt of Oscar de la Renta’s black cocktail frock has lacy ruffles squiggling around the body.

A slithery column of sequins fades into shreds of sheer material at Chanel.

Leopard print worthy of Paris Hilton dapples a silky, shiny, ankle-length St. John evening dress. Another glitzy halter gown, streaked with gold stripes, meets the neck at a gold ring.

At DKNY, a simple film of moss green wraps around the torso and flows into a graceful, below-the-knee skirt.

In contrast to the polite daywear side of the collection, Versace’s evening looks are slices of the wild life. One acid-yellow gown is slit across the chest and up the legs.

Another, in five-alarm-red satin, has horizontal slashes down the front.

A loden-green DKNY frock wraps around the body.