When I think about what is lacking in the average woman's wardrobe these days, three major themes seem to recur: mystery, minimalism, and, perhaps the most important of the three M's, modesty.
Here in Washington, DC where women outnumber men by double digits, there seems to be a frantic, desperate attempt by women to get a man's attention resulting in what I like to call the "cleavage explosion".
When I'm at cocktail parties, I have to remind myself sometimes that I am in the nation's capital, not Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
The necklines and standards of good taste have grotesquely plummeted.
Of course, the bosom is an alluring part of a woman's body, and elegant women have been drawing attention to their chests for centuries (heck, even Marie Antoinette and Dolley Madison did), but there's a difference between 18th century low cut gowns accessorized by coquettish fans, and the NFL cheerleader look I've seen on display lately.
I was relieved to see the demure and lady like trend for fall that doesn't throw sexiness out with the bath water, and I'm hoping my peers will put down their Victoria Secret catalogs long enough to take inventory of the new look, what Nieman Marcus is describing as "lady chic. The look is deliberate and polished, yet very present day".
Here are some of my favorites:
Perhaps Banana Republic's fall 2011 Mad Men collection designed by the show's lauded costume designer Janie Bryant is the best example of dressing with the three M's in mind. Her body hugging tweed suits, tie neck blouses, and simple sheaths for evening reek of old world glamour with a restraint that is dignified, and far from prudish. This "leave more to the imagination" aesthetic is seen in Gucci's fall campaign with models in colorful silk blouses buttoned and tied to the throat. In a recent New York Times style piece, the fashion writer's number one must have item for fall was the turtleneck. "You're covered up, but you're also revealing something", the article reminded the skeptical reader, citing Jill Sander and Celine as showcasing the turtleneck's elongating silhouette. This fall's inclination to the mod A-Line, round neck dress and shapeless coat are other indicators of a shifting toward women dressing for themselves, and not the way they think men want them to.