Fall Fashion Etiquette

The rules of fashion are changing. One of the only things that has remained constant in the past century is that New York still drives the fashion trends in America.

New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham’s weekly pictures always showcase the pulse of the city, and the diversity of individual styles that are so much a part of what New York’s fashion scene is. Women are always very visible, so no diehard or would-be fashionista would ever want to be caught wearing something that didn’t showcase her sense of fashion and knowledge of the latest trends and styles. Here are some of the hottest trends coming out of fashion capitals like New York this season:

Casual and Work Attire

The nature of the business, its location, the number of people who work there, and the extent of interaction employees have with the public will dictate appropriate work attire. Even if the company you work for has no dress code, you should still dress professionally to show you are serious about your job and want to be taken seriously.

People who work for big companies where ambitious professionals are constantly trying to climb the corporate ladder would do well to wear formal business attire. Women may wear suits, or interchangeable separates like pants and a jacket, a shirt and a jacket, or even just a sophisticated cashmere sweater.

Photo by br1dotcom via Flickr

Look to 3.1 Phillip Lin to update your work wardrobe this year. His fashion combines subtle luxury with versatility in a collection of ready-to-wear pieces that are meant to mix and match. If you want to add some foundation pieces to your existing wardrobe, look at his coats, tweeds and leather short skirt and jacket.

One of the hottest “must-have” pieces for fall is an over-the-knee boot. Instead of black, go for brown, a versatile update to the traditional riding boot. Wear it with a short tweed or bouclé skirt and a chunky sweater or boxy jacket.

Photo by …love Maegsn via Wikimedia Commons

Black and white are very hot this season, but so is pure winter white. Derek Lam paired classic white wool pants with a sophisticated white cashmere sweater. This look takes you from work to elegant dinner after work.

Photo by goMainstream via Flickr

Semi-Formal and Slightly Dressed Up

If you’re having dinner with a special person, or happen to be invited to theater because someone has New York City Broadway Tickets, you’ll look fashionably elegant in a Mark Jacobs grayish-green sweater and skirt “new suit” outfit that is a feminized take on the traditional man’s suit. Emerald and other shades of green are hot colors for fall and winter, and are especially appropriate for winter holiday dress or casual clothing.

Photo by br1dotcom via Flickr

Formal Attire

The rules of etiquette regarding wedding attire have changed a lot since the days of Emily Post. At one time, women were prohibited from wearing red, black or white at weddings. Today, the admonition against wearing white remains. You wouldn’t want to upstage a bridge, after all.

Take your cues from any specifications on the invitation. You can often tell by the venue whether it is very formal or moderately formal. If the wedding is a “white tie” affair, the men are expected to wear tails, and women are expected to wear long, formal gowns. White tie is the ultimate in formality and every aspect of the wedding will be very formal.

Photo by br1dotcom via Flickr

“Black tie” events are still formal, at least by today’s standards, but they aren’t as fancy as “white tie.” Basically, men wear tuxedos and women are expected to wear long dresses or short formal dresses. Think elegant silk cocktail dress. You can even choose one in pastel colors, but make sure what you choose is respectful of the venue and appropriate for the occasion. Be prepared to wear a shawl or cape for a wedding at a house of worship, just to be sure you don’t offend anyone by exposing arms or shoulders.

Photo by Kris Krug via Flickr

A sleeveless black Mary Alice Haney turns the little black dress on its head, with its daring but unusually revealing neckline. Be sure you have a jacket or wrap so you can cover up if there’s a possibility that you’d offend someone.