Sophistication returns to fashion without being stodgy

This season’s clothes aren’t taking their cues from club kids, college students or teenage rebels. There’s something grown-up about some of the most popular looks: They’re a little refined and very wearable, but they avoid being stodgy or, worse, just plain old.

Some of the influence could be coming from pop culture, with “The Great Gatsby” and “Anna Karenina” among the most anticipated movies before year’s end, and the popularity of TV period pieces such as “Downton Abbey,” “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

No flannel PJ bottoms or ripped jeans there.

Polished sophistication can be tempting after periods during the past decade that have alternately favored bohemian, aggressive and blingy looks.

Some of the trends on retail racks include rich jewel tones of purple, blue and green, lace handiwork and refined accessories including brooches, opera gloves and top-handle bags.

Buttery, work-appropriate leather pants, equestrian jackets, quilting and gilded baroque embellishments are also on the sophisticated shopping list.

It’s not just fashion experiencing this adult-quake, Tom Morton said.

Morton is North American chief strategy officer for forecasting and advertising company Havas Worldwide. He prepared a report that dealt with the “pushback against youth obsession.”

“People are going where the money is,” Morton said. A side effect of the economic downturn is that teenagers and 20-somethings aren’t entering the economy as early as their counterparts did a generation ago, he said.

Women aren’t necessarily using fashion and beauty as a tool to look younger, he said.

Instead, they’re using those tools to be the best 40-, 50- or 60-year-old they can be.

Younger women are learning that sophistication doesn’t mean matronly, and they’re seeing these grown-up styles as a fast track to confidence and credibility.

Samantha Critchell

Associated Press

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