Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Jackets With A Retro 1950s Flair

It was shortly after World War II that women's fashion in the United States started to change dramatically. More women started wearing pants and iconic ladies like Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn were often among the first to set fashion treads.

It's no secret why this happened. Jackie O and Hepburn were masterful at managing that fine balance between classic and independent. Hepburn especially earned longevity by always picking fashions with clean lines and bold accessories, something Jackie had a preference toward too.

Both women preferred a more minimalist look, accentuating their inner beauty as much of their outer beauty. It's a good lesson for picking fashion. If people are too busy noticing the clothes, they might not notice the person wearing them.

Fossil adds two vintage jackets with a 1950s hook. 

Fossil has long been regarded as one of the better designers for vintage looks. Their newest addition is the 1950s inspired Kara leather jacket, which isn't very far off from the 1950s biker jackets that helped usher in the 1960s.

What's different is that the color, commonly black for women bikers, has been traded in for a more sophisticated dark brown. The zipper has been replaced by buttons. The cut is fitted, creating a more classic feel. And the front pleats are riveted, with the hardware always more modern than what was manufactured in the 1950s.

The inside lining is different too, of course. Fossil opted for a smooth texture made with 97 percent polyester and 3 percent spandex. It cuts at the waist, with buttons to help pull the jacket in.

For a more sophisticated look, Fossil also add the Audrey trench coat, named after Hepburn herself. While the coat is a classic double-breasted design, Fossil has cut it short to fall at the hips (as opposed to the knee), and added a waist tie to help retain more shape.

It is anybody's guess whether Hepburn would have been more likely to wear a canvas or wool trench coat (or black like she wore in Seine), but there is no question that she frequently topped her more masculine ensembles with a trench. The reason the look worked so well for her was because of her often beatnik and bohemian approach to fashion.

Sundance modernizes the look once made famous by Jackie O.

Although Jackie O was often fond of trench coats too, she is perhaps even better known for sporting peacoats. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was even more commonly called a Jackie O coat.

At Sundance, the designers have traded in the wool that was indicative of a stylish sailor's staple and created something even more memorable. The weathered leather peacoat turns back the pages but retains a more modern, almost Western flavored styling.

It also cuts below the waist near the hips. What makes the look appealing is that the distressed leather is considerably softer. It is both more casual and formal all at once — a nice modern take on the classic design.

A quick nod to a man who often inspired both fashion icons.

While Jackie O and Hepburn were adept at creating their own ensembles, Hubert de Givenchy worked with both of them. It was often his designs, inspired by being ahead of his time in foreseeing a relaxed chic look, that helped solidify the balance between feminine and masculine.

Along with Hepburn and Jackie O, he helped set trends with the likes of Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo, and Elizabeth Tailor. Interestingly enough, his designs often worked both ways. While he created the fashions that helped them become fashion icons, they inspired him much like any muse.

Givenchy retired in 1995, but his brand lives on. This year, Givenchy has launched two dramatically bold designs very different from its history. The haute couture designs are feminine, sheer, and see-through. The ready-to-wear line is boxy, masculine, and modernistic.

Retro Leather Jackets By Fossil Button Up At 6.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Leather jackets can be among the hardest fits to find. And other than some of the newer designs being created by increasingly cool Italian designer Le Sentier, slated for a future review, picking up at least one timeless classic is always the better bet. You'll own it for years.

The Kara leather jacket ($358) and Audrey trench coat ($358) are available from Fossil direct. The alternative pick, the weathered leather peacoat ($548), is from Sundance. All three designs capture the spirit of classic styles with just enough modernized accents to keep the looks alive.
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