Metro-East Living

Tips on fall fashion from those in the know

Fashion trends from the New York runways can be many miles from reality for Midwestern women.

For fall 2016, according to fashion designers, you can expect weird cut-up denim trousers, dresses held together with metal rings, the return of ruffles and oversized ’90s-style sweatshirts. Somewhere among the sometimes lovely and often strange garments seen online and in fashion magazines are what Midwest women want to wear.

This week, I visited three fashion boutiques in Lebanon: Minerva, Vibrant Vida and Basket Case.

What I came away with is that while your average woman over 30 wants to look good and be a little colorful and fashionable, she wants to be comfortable, too. Jeans can be snug, but tops should be loose, some even flowing. Layers hide flaws, flat and mid-heel boots are classy and practical, and scarves are an inexpensive way to brighten up something basic you already own.

Here’s a look at what retailers are offering their customers, which in some cases is a reflection of what was seen on the runway for fall and at these three boutiques.

Basics: leggings, skinny jeans, boots, tunic tops, statement jewelry, long scarves, long vests.

Fall colors: camel, burnt sienna (think burgundy with a hint of gold), mustardy yellow and dusty pink.

Patterns: small prints, florals and plaids.

Material: velvet and suede accents, leather, shearling.

Details: Ruffles, cowl necks, distressed jeans, lace.

Vibrant Vida Boutique

Owner Amanda Oelze on Tuesday was sporting a long camel-colored vest over a basic black long-sleeve tee with black stretchy jeans and short boots. Five months after having daughter Isla, this is what she’s comfortable in.

All the items are sold at her boutique.

The vests have been so popular that she sold out of them.

“We carry six of each item, so we’re always changing what we have,” she said. “We get shipments every other day.”

Dresses and tunic tops in “fall florals are huge,” she added, and often paired with a denim jacket.

Shawls, around $29, come in popular red and black “buffalo plaid.”

Carrying suede and leather booties ($90 range) and black denim skinny jeans ($52) are crucial.

“Soft and stretchy is what my customers want,” Amanda said. Make sure you check out the black slip-on pants with velvet and suede accents, too.

Customers like to bring in a basic piece and buy something to add to it so they can wear it from one season to another.

“We’re big on layering,” she said.

Chokers, an influence from the 1990s, are back, Amanda noted, pointing out a mesh goldtone one for $14.

In the front window, a mannequin wore a black leather bomber jacket ($239) — another style from the ’90s. To update it to 2016, a small ruffle sits on the shoulder seams.

Vibrant Vida Boutique is at 106 Wakanda Drive. The phone number is 618-537-9876. You can follow Vibrant Vida Boutique on Facebook. The hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.


Samantha Helton, of Belleville, was a moving mannequin Tuesday, dressed in some of the designs her mother, owner Donelle Gress, carries in her shop in downtown Lebanon.

“I like jeans and leggings,” said Samantha, who had her eye on a pair of cowboy boots with a cross design on them ($90).

Donelle’s eclectic clothing choices might be described as stylishly comfortable, with a little gypsy thrown into the fashion mix.

For fall, “You’ll see lots of fringe, distressed leggings, cowboy boots, long tunics and sweaters,” she said.

She just got in a shipment of fleece wrap coats ($80 to $160) in shades of pumpkin, chartreuse, cream, jade and more.

The furry ponchos are for fun at $49. On Samantha, one looked good over a gray stretchy, all-cotton tunic ($60). The distressed jeggings she wore ($48) keep going out of the shop, colors changing with the seasons.

Donelle is big on statement jewelry (she makes some of her own), so look for anything from a $27 multi-wrap bracelet in turquoise with silver beads (a line with magnetic clasps) to high-end French Kande ($200 to $300) that uses silver and other metal medallions, for example, in their triple-strand bracelets.

Minerva is at 208 W. St. Louis St. The phone number is 618-406-4244. You can follow Minerva on Facebook. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Basket Case

Carole Anthony was running the downtown Lebanon shop on Tuesday; it’s a smaller version of the Belleville store, which carries popular Brighton and Vera Bradley merchandise.

The Lebanon shop had a striking array of patterned tops in fall colors that include pumpkin, plum, copper and more. Many are tunics with uneven hems. They pair up well with stand-out jewelry from Treska.

Cowl necks are very popular, said Carole. So are wrap-around shawls meant for indoor wear, such as a red one fastened with a single wood button ($88).

Carole modeled a black stretchy tunic ($86) livened up with a red patch on the left shoulder, matching red edging on the cuffs and an uneven hem that sported multi-colored striped trim.

More of the current layering trend is evident in City Wraps ($52). The shawl/poncho/wrap can be worn five ways. It comes in six colors/patterns, such as rust heather, plum and houndstooth, and can be folded up and put away in its own drawstring pouch.

Basket Case in Lebanon is at 215 W. St. Louis St. The phone number is 618-537-9919. You can follow Basket Case on Facebook. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Note: Check out 26-year-old fashion blogger Jance Staten, of O’Fallon, and see what she has to say about fall trends in a BND video.

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