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The Design & Style Issue

See how the latest trends translate from the runway to real life. – By Ashley Breeding | Photos by Jody Tiongco

In the way of fashion trends, fall 2012 is going big (as you’ll recall from Vogue’s 1,000-page September issue—the largest in the publication’s 120-year history). So big, in fact, that it seems hard to go sartorially wrong when such a diverse range of styles are “en vogue.” Couture-clad models marched the Fashion Week runways showcasing everything from military-detailed duds and rock star heavy metals to soft winter whites and opulent brocades. Thread in leather and lace applique, fur (faux, of course!), bold graphic prints and a slew of textures, hues and silhouettes, and the possibilities still aren’t close to covered.  Of course, how these trends translate from the New York, Paris, London and Milan catwalks to SoCal’s coast is vastly different from what we’d see, say, in Manhattan, Boston or even San Francisco. Not only does our year-round balmy weather relieve us of the need for wool trench coats and ear muffs, but the relaxed, easy and carefree vibe that comes with living in a beach town also finds expression through our wardrobes.

Newport Beach Magazine consulted with the town’s top stylists for a trend report and insider tips, and then took to the neighborhood streets—a la The New York Times’ famous style photographer Bill Cunningham, save the bicycle and worn windbreaker—to capture how Southern Californians are putting their own spin on the top trends.

Modern Classics

“You can never go wrong with classic pieces,” advises Leslie Christen, stylist to Newport’s elite, and personal shopper at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Chicly outfitted in cuffed skinny jeans, a plain white T-shirt and fitted military jacket, a camel leather Chloé bag over her arm, she adds, “Designer items are a good investment because you can wear them forever … and cheaper ‘classic’ finds will still look more expensive.”

The classics typically keep to neutral colors—navy blue, black, gray, browns and beiges, white—and are your go-to pieces that fit comfortably and make you feel confident. Think denim, soft cotton T-shirts and button-downs, cashmere sweaters, and tailored coats for both men and women. Your most elegant little black dress, precious family jewels and most wearable pair of Louboutin pumps also fall into this category.

A few in-season items to add to your forever-staples, Leslie says, that are sure to be seen in Newport Beach are winter whites (a summer favorite in more textured fabrics), cropped coats, capes and peplum hems (which will weave in and out of style over the years), high-waisted and loose-fitting trousers (paired with a structured shirt) and leather equestrian boots. Accessorize with driving caps and fedoras, scarves and timeless jewelry. “I just bought a chunky gold cuff necklace,” she reveals. “Jewelry is a great way to change your look and dress up more [simplistic] clothes.”

The stylish men of Newport seem to be adopting a more preppy New England style as of late, donning casually-worn Oxford shirts, straight (not skinny) denim and Topsiders, all of which can be updated this fall and winter. For dressier occasions, Leslie says, skinny tailored suits are on-trend. “Classic three-piece suits with a narrow silhouette—those are great.”

Returning to the autumn It list for yet another season, military-inspired styles for both sexes have also become a classic that’s always in fashion. “I love the military trend for both men and women,” says OC-based fashion designer Lisa Rodarte. “Military styling and details are classic and easy to wear. I love military-inspired parkas, bags and boots.” Dare to think outside the barracks and also try on feminine military detailing like cargo pockets, brass buttons, buckles and patriotic patchwork adorning everything from skirts to ballet flats.

Right on Hue

While earth tones never fade out of style, a few colors boldly stand out this season: Bordeaux, orange, gold and a mix of heavy metals dominated the Fashion Week designers’ shows, and will likely be at the forefront of Newport fashion this fall. We saw both leather and wine hues make their debut, and the two also poured together on everything from riding pants and quilted vests to pencil skirts and peplum belts. From frocks to stockings, gold also glittered on the runway, along with sparkly midnight shades that can be rocked day or night, depending on how you pair them (opt for subtlety in the early hours—woven into a knit, for instance, and save more brilliant pieces for evening).

Colorful prints popped up in a variety of fashions, from retro 1970s geometric patterns to silver- and gold-threaded brocade (and even faux brocade—patterns printed on other materials like silk). “My favorite trend for fall 2012 is the printed trouser,” says Lisa. “I think it’s a great new way to bring back [this pant style] and I love all the different fits I’m seeing—flare, pencil, cropped and wide leg.”

If you thought bold bedazzling went out of fashion in the 1990s, never to make a comeback, think again: Everything from embellished scoop necklines to cigarette pants to chunky platforms is making a statement this season (much more elegant than the bejeweled stonewashed denim from decades ago).

Also kicked up a notch this season is the return of the motorcycle (“moto”) boot and bootie. Beyond basic black, step into a variety of shades and textures—beiges, browns, reds—adorned with buckles, studs and other updated accents. “The bootie is the No. 1 shoe and must-have this season,” Leslie says. “My favorite are moto boots by Rag & Bone.” When it comes to color, a rich and diverse palette invites you to explore and experiment with your wardrobe this fall.

Mix It Up

“Newport is more fashion-forward, so I think a lot of the season’s trends will translate well here,” says Leslie, who predicts what she calls “a mix of elements”—trends layered with beach-wear.

“We’ll always have the beach vibe (and weather) here, so summer styles translate well into fall. We’ll see items from last season worn with what’s happening now. For example, a long floral dress roughened up with a motorcycle jacket and moto boots (she recommends Westerly Boutique and Bardot for stellar selections of styles). What we won’t see in Newport is full structure or straight-from-the-runway [ensembles].”

Lisa adds: “I like the fact that people in Newport don’t take fashion too seriously and always incorporate an easygoing beach aesthetic to their wardrobe. What I love most is that mix of casual and trendy.” Beyond the beach-y, Bohemian look, she thinks trends like the wide printed trouser will translate easily to casual Newport style, by pairing them with, say, a white T-shirt and flip-flops opposed to the tucked-in blouse and platforms that stomped the runways. Newport-based stylist Channing O’Neill, who favors a bit of a Boho vibe and says she also loves mixing styles like floral prints with stripes, cautions not to go overboard: “Whatever trends you choose to mix, try not to overdo it,” she says. “To keep it balanced, keep it natural and not ‘done.’ ” Some of her favorite trends as of late are velvets, cable-knit sweaters, printed jeans, embellished sequined shorts (worn with a plain white T-shirt) and black booties.

“Although, the biggest excitement for me in the fall is finding a fun new handbag—that’s always my main splurge.” Channing is still searching for the perfect find.

For men, she’s fond of mixing trendier pieces like fitted blazers with surf clothing, which, she acknowledges, most men in Newport will also incorporate into their style. When it comes to fall fashion on the Newport streets, the rules are—there are no rules. “It’s all about having fun with it,” Lisa says. Keep in mind a few simple tips, Leslie advises, like dressing in what’s most flattering on your figure and playing the proportions right—the smaller your size, the smaller the print; loose, flowing pieces on top or bottom but not both, go with something short or low-cut but not both, et cetera). So shop the local boutiques, try on a few fun trends and hit the streets. NBM

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