Fall 2009: We're Not Living Large but We're Dressing Big

Say, "Welcome back!" to layers, and ruffles, and tiers a plenty. Add folkloric prints, plaids, and faux fur to the fray and you have collections that are determined to offer a good time.

And a good time it was. How could I not feel uplifted when designers at the ENK Children's Club and Bubble Kids' Trade Show presented such lush jewel tones, such a variety of sensual fabrications, and such exuberant prints!

Where did designers find their inspiration to create this season's trends? From gardens, travel, from fashion icons, and, of course, they're aware of the styles shown on the adult runways. To see just how influential womenswear is, I've included a few pictures from the Fall 2009 fashion shows held in New York City.



Bohemian Rhapsody. With its mix of folkloric stripes, peasant florals and bold paisleys, this all or nothing style says, The hell with a bad economy, we're having fun! Think Russian Princess meets hippie babe with faux fur vests and hats, tiered skirts over contrasting patterned tights, hand-knit sweaters atop narrow, embroidered pants.

Big blooms mix it up with a tile print at the women's Kenzo show.


Le Fromage et L'Orange's peasant happy dress (ENK).


High Country. This is country squire not country mouse. Lots of Liberty prints, clean lined denim, simple jumpers and sweaters.


Workhand Chic. Get down and dirty with this vintage-inspired look. Focused on boys, manufacturers are showing simple, distressed jeans tinted to look like dirty denim; hoodies and sweatshirts; shirts in brushed plaid; pants with suspenders; and T-shirts with tractors, tools, and other work related objects.

Ready-for-work gear from IKKS (ENK).


Vintage Nerd. Lean yet comfortable button-down sweaters and narrow pants (make them plaid for boys) are just right for the part grunge/part audiovisual persona.

Little Maven by Tori Spelling's cardigan is fun to look at -coming and going (ENK).


Surprise. A hood lined in a contrasting color, a sweater that reverses to another design, little details like an underskirt with a velvet bow add intrigue to this season's dressing.


Slow-Clothes. Like the Slow Foods movement that encourages small producers in local farms, the Slow Clothes ethic celebrates a hands-on approach to designing small - a single designer or designing twosome producing well-edited collections that reflect a concern for beauty, respect for the materials they employ and the people who bring their vision to life.


Newcomer Clover New York creates each irreverent pattern and hand-blocks the designs on to organic cotton (Bubble).



-The vest is "it." Short and chunky or long and lean, it adds a layer of interest to sportswear dressing.

Kenzo's fur shrug over a sweet floral dress.

The mini-me version from Imoga (ENK).


-Piled on layers - a sweater over a T-shirt with a fur vest - looks very BoHo chic.

-One shape is wide on top with lots of layered pieces and narrow to the foot ending in a chunky boot or shoe.

-Tiered skirts and dresses - the ruffled shapes are a natural with the folkloric prints.

Tiers of rosy prints from Jean Bourget (ENK).


-Full, pleated skirts : This is a cleaner skirt usually shown in wool, corduroy, velveteen, or in softer fabrics with a layered underskirt or tulle. Lucky for girls, manufacturers are placing a thin layer of cotton over the tulle lining so there's no itchiness.

-Jumpers add one streamlined piece to an outfit. Manufacturers keep the look simple with a blouse and tights, or use the garment as a neutral canvas for layers.

-Simple, elegant A-line knits are a fresh alternative to tiers.


They're Laughing out Loud with the gay stripes and a clean knit shape that add up to a sophisticated frock (ENK).


-Bubble hems always look couture and this season is no exception.

-Slightly rounded knicker shapes and not-too-wide jodhpurs look great paired with a simple peasant top or sweater.

-Clean A-line shapes seen in tween and junior sizes, make an ideal backdrop for modern color blocking or 60's inspired prints.


Zoe Ltd's alternative to layers - because no one can work the peasant look every day (ENK).


-Pants for girls and boys are lean.



Purple Passion. Purple, burgundy, plum - they're the colors of lush foods like jam, and ripe berries and glasses of jewel-toned wine. These deep hues are soul warming and sophisticated, sensual and playful. Designers used the tones grouped together with rose and other warm shades, and mixed them with deep charcoal.


Gaspard Yurklevich's delicious palette of red, plum, sand, and charcoal.


Pinko's wine and charcoal seen at Pitti Bimbo in Florence, Italy.


Purple combos: Plum, lilac, rose, pink - sometimes accented with apple green or sky.

Rose fever. Rose and pink are still favorites. Designers are mixing the hues.

Reving up the hot hues at Kit & Lili (ENK).


Rose/Pink combos: Dark pink, sky and black or charcoal.

Ocean: Tones of sky, electric blue, emerald paired together have never looked so inviting.


Cynthia Steffe knows that if you have two shades with as much chemistry as this gray-green and charcoal, you don't dilute them with lots of detail.


Off the adult runway and into the kids' market is this bottle green faux lambswool vest and gray peasant style dress from Essentiel Girls (Bubble).


A Dab of Mustard: While mustard isn't the easiest color to wear, it works when it's paired with inky neutrals or rich jewel tones.

Neige's mustard cardigan sharpens and warms a charcoal silk dress.(ENK)


Warm, Light-Toned Neutrals: Wear them solo or in combinations of dusty tones for an ethereal innocence.

Anne Valerie Hash's collection of creamy neutrals seen at Pitti Bimbo is good enough to eat.

Lotus Springs stays true to its organic origins with a palette of delicate neutrals. (ENK)


Black in a Minute: As a solid in outerwear collections, as a wash for jeans, as a solid sweater even in infant lines - black is hot right now.

Black for the little peasant by Nolita Pocket at Pitti Bimbo.

Black gets a pop with accents of sky and rose at Childish Clothing (ENK).


Gray To Stay: Popular for a few seasons now, the appeal of gray isn't fading. The color looks freshest when its weight is dark and it's cast on the brown side. The hue keeps the clarets and purple tones from running amok.



-Faux fur. It's a must to trim coat and jacket collars and cuffs, and the fur vest in close-to-nature neutrals or over-the-rainbow brights is the "must-have" item for the season.

Never ones for understatement, the designers at Oilily pushed fur to the limit (ENK).


-Jersey. Because of its beautiful drape, jersey is a natural for peasant style tees and easy, tiered skirts.

-Waxed silk. This treatment lends more structure to material, giving pleats, for instance, a stiffer hold.

-Cashmere, Pima cotton, bamboo and organic blends. Even during this recession, cashmere remained a staple of some high-end collections.

-Brushed cotton. Brushing the surface takes a preppy plaid shirt to a grungier, edgier place.

-Heavy cotton or cotton blend knits. The weight of the cloth gives it enough body so simple jumpers or modish dresses retain their shape.

This material is soft yet has enough heft to give Sarah Waldo's mod dress structure (Bubble).


-Velveteens. For jackets and pants.

-Babywale corduroy. A perennial in preppy lines, is shaping up as a soft mix-in with grungier pieces.



Folkloric: Russian dolls meet commune babes with folksy, clashing patterned stripes, patchworks, floral embroidery and paisleys.

Argyles: Argyle too preppy for you? How about argyles with sequins, Ms. Diva?

Elsy goes full glam with this sequin-happy cardigan (seen at Pitti Bimbo in Florence).

A subtler version from Le Fromage et L'Orange (ENK).


Liberty florals: The sweet florals are important in sportswear and dress collections as a stand-alone print or a mix-in with bolder designs.

Peasant florals: This look appeared in so many forms: mimicking needlepoint; as tiny, allover ditsy designs; or big and bold like a peasant's babushka.

Mod Sixties prints: There were lots of brightly colored, Pucci-inspired designs.

Sara Sara's new collection Truly Me delivers great, mod style at an affordable price point.


Plaids: Always a favorite, colored in dusty tones and softened with brushed surfaces, plaid takes on a hipper, grungier edge.

Velvet & Tweed's plaid for boys looks fresh teamed with vintage style suspender pants (Bubble).

The grungier side of plaid at IKKS (ENK).


Pinstripe denim: Adding a simple pinstripe to denim plays with the idea of business attire without being stuffy. The pattern is wonderful mixed with plaid for boys and peasant style florals for girls.

T-shirts: Vintage etching motifs of animals, trucks, plows and other farm implements are popular.

Okkies tee with horse graphic and shorts from the new girls' collection.



Plush Parkas. Forget navy and khaki. Candy colors; black; narrow, belted shapes; fur trim and sometimes lining; thin, super soft leather. The parka has never been so hot.

As sweet as a vanilla cupcake, as plush as kitten fur: the baby pink, fur-lined parka from Floriane is a treat (ENK).


Vested Interest. Fake fur, knit, sheepskin, the vest keeps kids warm whether it's worn solo or under a jacket.

Coat Concern. The pretty coat is important. The lines have feminine details such as pleats, laser-cut lace, novelty buttons and always fur collars and cuffs.

From the froth of pink fur to the feminine shape and pretty baroque print, this lovely coat from Kate Mack is a winner.



-Fur trim

-Fringed yarn


-Silk or velvet ribbons in place of belts and to close sweaters

-Rosette shapes


Originally published April 25, 2009



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