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Top 5 picks at Mall title 4-99.gif (12161 bytes)

Written and illustrated by Kathryn Martinez
Tommy Hilfiger [Jump]
Todd Oldham's TO2 [Jump]
Banana Republic [Jump]
Ann Taylor [Jump]
The Gap [Jump]
Can you make a personal style statement with clothing from mass merchandisers? I say the answer is absolutely yes! It's all a matter of combinations. You can find wonderful pieces at all these international conglomerates.  Use them, but wear them YOUR way! I know there are days when you're feeling insecure, and you want to look like all those androids in the Gap commercials. OK. Now and then. If you have to. But really, trust your instincts. Buy great pieces, and make them YOURS!
Tommy Hilfiger offers sporty, all-American clothes. Tommy Hil turned the fashion world on its head when he plastered his name and logo across everybody's chests. But what I like the most about today's Tommy Hil stuff is that their labels and logos seem to be incorporated into the design of the individual item. Kudos to their design department for trying interesting ways to get their name into our subconscious.
This navy "nylon/polyamide/PU" long-sleeved top, for example, has the Tommy Hilfiger logo on the arm…like a branded, urban, tribal tattoo. The top itself has got that fitted bicyclist type of look to it, and it's got two seams that start at the bust and end at the waist. $58.00.

Next item is their polyester training pants. The waistband is thick and supportive across the tummy area, and there are groovy red panels on the bottoms that are trimmed in white piping. Definitely inspired by old school training sets. Plus, there's a little horizontal back pocket as well. $58.00.

Now we have a pair of Tommy jeans. These are a lightly faded gray/black pair, Eighties colored I know, but they have a boot leg, which makes them more modern. Call me crazy, but I like 'em...and that says a lot, because I don't enjoy jeans very much. Plus the logo on the button is really cute. And it costs, you guessed it, $58.00.
Ahh, the inevitable and ubiquitous bubble vest. It's unavoidable because it's so damn functional and looks so darn cute. Tommy Hilfiger offers one that's not too puffy, not too fitted, and has a fairly high collar to protect your neck. And the price is right, $58.00.

The last item breaks the $58.00 price streak. This denim apron has a little spandex in it for some stretch and wraps around your hips. It's just enough fabric to make the thigh conscious feel more at ease. Plus, you get a bonus little pocket in the front. $38.00.

TO2 is designer Todd Oldham's jeans and sportswear line. Todd's always been known for his bright colors and for using specialty fabrics. TO2 is his attempt to bring a bit of that extravagance into more casual wear.

First thing that caught my eye were these iridescent black jeans. They are not too shiny, but catch the light quite beautifully. Put them on whenever the urge to be a rock star strikes. $55.00. Oh, they also come in iridescent indigo.

This lavender T-shirt I noticed because of the extra panel at the shoulder, which I feel gives it a little more of a designed quality than your regular three-quarter-length, v-neck tee. On the chest is Todd's logo of a crown, which gradates from dark gray to light gray. $28.00, and it also comes in black.

Now, I know the whole gray and pink combo is a bit tired, but I thought this hooded top was really cute. It's made of acrylic, nylon, spandex, which gives it a thick, matte look. And I like the sporty little league style of the gray sleeves and pink body. Plus, the sleeves are not short sleeves, not three-quarter length, but end right before the elbow…are you sold yet??? Also comes in light blue with navy sleeves. $49.00.
When I was ten, I had these Eva Joya jeans that had rhinestones that formed a heart at the side pocket and I thought I was sooo cool...but I digress. Anyway, I still think rhinestones are cool, so I really liked this little tee with TO2 written in rhinestones. Available in black with fuschia stones, blue with yellow stones, hot pink with blue stones, or white with green stones. $26.00.

Last, but not least, are these navy blue track pants with saffron colored stripes down the sides. The bottoms are neither fitted nor flared. Why, they're just right! Since they're cotton/spandex, they are flexible and comfy. Pants worthy for Sporty Spice to do back-flips in (if she still does them that is…where are the Spice Girls anyway?). Also comes in light gray with pale blue stripes. $48.00.

At Banana Republic:
First up at BR is their black sleeveless sweater, made of nylon, wool, rayon AND silk…but wait there's more! It's got these creamy colored little nubs (for lack of a better word) that create an abstract, floral pattern. $78.00.

Next, we have this long, chocolate-colored skirt in cotton, nylon, and spandex. The mix beautifully blends the crispness of the fabric and stretch that allows it to drape nicely. There's also a raw-edged slit in the back. $118.00.

This shrunken merino wool top is going to be great when it starts to get really cold because even though it's wool, it's really thin and feels a bit slinky. Point being, its great for warmth without the bulk. It's got a mock turtleneck and three-quarter-length sleeves. Comes in black and gray, $68.00.
Now to indulge my love for slightly sheer long-sleeve tops, I have chosen this 70% rayon/30% wool, crewneck top with the stitching showing at the seams. The fabric is thin, allowing for some sheerness to soften the look of the shirt. Comes in pale blue-gray and black. $34.00.
Finally, we have these amazing shoes. Although they are Mary Janes, they retain very little of the little girl quality and gain a more antique, flapper-esque spirit because of the sophisticated design and colors (light gray, dark gray, and a muddy red) $118.00.
Ann Taylor:
This black dress is a great piece. It's got three-quarter length sleeves, stops around the knee, and has side seams at the bust for a more tailored fit. Plus, the matte nature of the fabric, and the curvy V-neck gives it a slight Star Trek edge that makes it kind of modern looking and graphic. Just hope the heater isn't on full blast because it's made of wool! $128.00.
Next, I spied this cotton/spandex button down. I must admit that my first reaction was "Not another button down!!!" However, I couldn't take my eyes off this luscious emerald green color. Maybe I was just so thankful that it's not fuschia, lime, or khaki. It also comes in a silvery gray, apple green, and a very business-like blue. $58.00.
Now, for people who like the comfort and warmth of fleece, but want to keep the Outward Bound look at bay, here's a neat turtleneck version by Ann Taylor. I like it in the polar white the best, but it also comes in red and charcoal gray. $38.00.
I must take a moment to applaud Ann Taylor for its accessories the past few seasons. Take for example this great shoulder bag. I love it for its design and its great mix in textures: speckled gray, white, and black wool fabric, silver metal edge on the top, with black leather side panels straps. It's delicate, yet strong. $88.00.
Also a testament to the great accessories claim made by yours truly is this belt with little pouch. The pouch is small enough to keep said belt from falling into the "fanny pack" category, or the "uber-trendy utility pack" category. Plus, if you're ever in the woods, you can keep candy corn in it to mark your trail and escape that dreaded debutante Witch from the Facts of Life. $48.00.
The Gap has added some shepherd-inspired wool items into their collection this month.

Perhaps they've got a plan to dress their lip-synching android models in sheep's clothing? It is Halloween season. I do admit that the heathered color palette is more sophisticated and appropriate for the crisp, colorful days of fall.

This hooded, lamb's wool, sweater-vest is a prime example of this. The color is really bright, but soft because there are specks of purple, orange, and pink in it. $38 .00, also comes in light brown or black.
Next, is this wool/poly/acrylic quilt-vest. I like the fact that it is a variation from those ubiquitous nylon bubble vests. I guess you could call it an earthier version. Available in charcoal gray, maroon, and hunter green. $42.00.
Continuing the wool trend into their accessories, the Gap offers this little totebag. There's a patch in front with little cherries on it. Comes in gray and brown. $28.00.
For a bit of contrast to all this wool, the Gap is also offering a lot of leather. Since we already know from the "Just Can't Get Enough" ad that everyone (yes, EVERYONE) is going to be in leather, I thought it would be foolish not to add just a little bit of leather into the Top 5. Besides, this rectangle leather bag with long shoulder straps, is plain, simple, and relatively harmless. Comes in orange-y leather, reddish-brown leather, and black leather. $68.00.
The final Gap item is their taupe cotton/rayon nightie. It's very fine and soft, and has green embroidered flowers that start at the hem and grow upwards. I'd imagine that this nightie would be great for wearing to sleep under mounds of warm blankets, or when the heater is working overtime. $24.00.
Well, that's all I've got his month. Enjoy and don’t take candy from strangers!
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