Catwalk Considerations: ‘Why Not?’

Five low-impact suggestions to create a smart Fall 2011 wardrobe.

Thinking about our relationship to fashion beyond conspicuous consumption is a core principle here at EcoSalon and as we all know is as challenging as it is enlightening. Identifying what fashion truly means to you is the first step to figuring out how to re-design a stylish future that better serves you and the planet. For me, the fun of fashion is in its unique ability to express the outlandish, a sense of wit and imagination, as exemplified by icons such as Alexander McQueen, Isabella Blow and Diana Vreeland.

Vreeland, Editor-In-Chief of Vogue from 1963-1971, created the fashion media as we know it today. She imparted her sparkling wit and ingenuity into the style scene, qualities that are mostly missing in these days of carbon-copy consumerism.

Vreeland began her career as a columnist for Harper’s Bazaar in 1936. Her tongue-in-cheek “Why don’t you” columns – “Why don’t you use a gigantic shell instead of a bucket to ice your champagne?” and “Or paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?” for example – inspired her post-Depression readers to think outside of the box and break the rules of fashion.

It was Vreeland’s fearless, slightly madcap voice saying “Why Not” that came to mind as I watched last week’s New York runways with a view to how I could adapt my own wardrobe to reflect some of the trends. In the spirit of fashion risk taking, and with humble acknowledgment paid to a true genius (she actually invented the word “Pizazz” for goodness’ sake), here are my five low-impact suggestions to create a smart Fall 2011 wardrobe.

Why not…tie one on? Menswear is a huge trend. With Yigal Azrouel, Alexander Wang and Prabal Gurung (above) showing tuxedo inspired ensembles, the easiest way to get the look is to borrow a tie or cut a thin strip of black silk. Tie the knot a little looser and lower  than you would on your male counterpart or forget a collar completely and rock the androgynous look with a tee.

Why not…stop playing so safe? It’s not until you’re confronted with a chartreuse dress or bright orange pants that you realize you’ve essentially been weaned on a diet of safe neutrals and black. If you’re going to buy one thing for next season, choose a piece that gives your neutral ensemble an unexpected pop of color, as seen at Peter Som, Preen and Phillip Lim (above).

Why not…chop off the arms of your old trench or jacket? If this idea makes you squirm, get your tailor to do it. Make sure to save the arms to create a bias binding to neatly finish off the look. Vest coats looked fresh at Alexander Wang, Richard Chai Love and Rachel Roy.

Why not…nix the match? Clashing textures, plaids and prints is the way to go, as seen at Marc Jacobs, Rag and Bone (above) and Thakoon. Consider it  the perfect excuse to try on all your old clothes again to see what clashes with what!

Why not…make a sweeping entrance? Flowing, mid-calf and longer skirt lengths feel radical, even mildly uncomfortable, after years spent in form fitting tops and skinny pants. Dig around your local thrift store and I guarantee you’ll find some floor-skimmers left over from the early 1990’s. Pair with a utilitarian jacket to get the new silhouette, as seen at Tommy Hilfiger, Rachel Comey and Tory Burch.

All images from


Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.