Professional Jeweler Archive: Ladies' Room

August 2000

Professional Insider/Trend Spotting

Ladies' Room

Following years of casual dressing, ladylike suits and dresses make a comeback for fall – the trick is in who wears what and how

What started with little cashmere twin sets and throwback capri pants will flower into a full-blown return to ladylike formality this fall and winter. Be on the lookout for Chanel and Chanel-like suits with tailored jackets and conservatively cut skirts, tweeds and classic accompaniments such as brooches. But as with everything in the fashion mix, don’t expect it from everyone all the time.

Handle with Care

Though it would seem easy to put together, this throwback style may prove difficult to wear, say fashion experts. The ladylike look will work best on the young, say Vogue and The New York Times. A tailored suit or dress on a woman in her mid-20s has a flair, while on women from the mid-30s on up it may look staid, like they just stepped out of Barbara Bush’s closet. The trick for older Gen-X and Baby Boomers will be in the mix of things classic and trendy. “If you’re wearing a conservative skirt, you pair it with a tight turtleneck and boots. If you wear that same skirt with a blouse and cardigan and Ferragamo flats, you will definitely look dowdy,” Tiffany Dubin of the The Auction Channel tells Vogue.

Ratchet Up the Jacket

The women’s suit with jacket or a blazer with skirt or pants, which were off the fashion radar during the casual dress ’90s, will be back. Even Wall Street says so. An A.G. Edwards analysis of The Talbots Inc. praises the retailer’s merchandise team for guessing right on the greater emphasis on jackets and dressier apparel.

Brooch Time

The return of jackets and suits and classic apparel primes the pump for selling brooches – and opens up the younger market. Advise younger customers the perfect complement to a tailored suit is a beautiful gemstone brooch, straight pin or cameo. Show the older customers funkier brooches and pins – it will allow them to wear the conservative looks but avoid dressing exactly like a ’40s war bride. (Look for a focus on brooches in September’s Professional Jeweler.)

This return to the classic ladylike suit also creates opportunities for selling more pearl strands, bracelets and smaller, more ladylike hoop earrings than we saw during the summer months.

– by Liz Smutko

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications