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

Written and illustrated by Kathryn Martinez
Ann Taylor [Jump]
Banana Republic [Jump]
The Gap [Jump]
Benetton [Jump]
Abercrombie & Fitch [Jump]
Welcome back, Fashion Find-ers! In anticipation of fall falling into place, I have dutifully scouted the local stores to check out what's in stock once the degrees start to fall along with the leaves from the trees. This month we are featuring Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, The Gap, Benetton, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
At Ann Taylor, I found a few sporty pieces  mixed with otherwise classic AT looks.

First item up for bid is this gray sweatshirt that AT has redone for a more cleaned up look. It's slightly cropped for a bit of a 1980's touch, and a tiny little pocket on the left sleeve to keep up with the utilitarian/cargo thing that happened to us all this year. $38.00.

This cozy, pastel wool skirt is a great piece for adding a bit of subtle color to the fall/winter wardrobe. It has a few threads of green, yellow, blue and gray that can be picked up when paired with all sorts of colored tops. $78.00.


Here we have MATCHING, yes, MATCHING bag and shoes. Brown wool brings great texture to this cute tote bag, $68.00, which also comes with a shoulder strap if you wish to use it.

The closed toed, slip-on mules are also in brown wool, and are trimmed with brown leather, $110.00. Together, they look polished and professional; separated, they can hold their own alone.

And a dark brown leather jacket, with a fleece-lined hood! No more wearing that sweatshirt under the jacket for umbrella-haters like myself. It also has seams across the front for a bit of a Fonzie feeling, including neat pockets in the front to hold all those "ey's!" But it costs $250.00.
Seems like Banana Republic has yet to recover from that mudslide they had months ago, but for some reason, I'm digging their muddy colored pieces for fall. When paired with bright colors, an earthier and less graphic look is created.

For example, we have this khaki mid-calf length, A-line cut skirt. It's a subtle grayish-khaki color, has two pockets on the side, and is made of mostly cotton with a touch of lycra and spandex for added stretch. $78.00.

There's a traditional men's shirt worn by Filipinos called a barong tagalog. BR's embroidered 100% cotton shirt looks very much like a woman's version of one, which I love because I've always liked the barong shirt better than the women's traditional shirt. The embroidery work runs all along the front and continues onto the sleeves and collar. Comes in both beige and gray. $68.00.

Next, we have a great wool skirt that's cut on the bias, and stops below the knee. It comes in a light toasty brown fabric and costs $98.00.

Continuing on the men's inspired look, we have these great men's style trousers. Amongst all the ultra-feminine looks and colors we have been seeing lately, they are a great contrast to it all. Plus, they are made of cotton with some lycra and spandex, so comfort is no issue. Comes in black, khaki, charcoal gray, a yellowy-tan, and a blue-gray. $78.00.
Then there is another  skirt available that is also made of wool, but this one is gray and grazes the ankle. It's heavy enough to wear in the winter, and long enough to hide long underwear once the weather turns really cold. It is also available in black, but is made of cotton, not wool. $118.00.
Despite The Gap's huge marketing effort to dress the entire population up in their love, just in time for the back to school season, their monotonous clothes manage to make even the most beautiful group of multi-racial models blend into a sick pattern of unindividual individuals in uniforms.

One thing I do celebrate is their choice to keep their walking karaoke machine in colors. Exhibit A: this cotton hooded, three-fourths sleeve top, which comes in orange, "mellow-yellow," gray, black, and white. $24.00.

Exhibit B is this indigo denim skirt that looks bright but dark at the same time. It's got contrasting yellow stitching, looks great with orange, and costs $34.00.

I also found some versatile jackets to combat the fall winds, or perhaps to provide some insulation from the chill of this consumer.

This khaki hooded jacket, made of 100% cotton, has three front pockets and a drawstring around the bottom. $39.99.

This next jacket reminds me of something worn in the wintertime in China, during the time of Mao. It's short, has a soft polyester shell, big buttons, and round-seam pockets. Comes in cream, black, and a grayish-mint. $59.50.
According to the sign in the store, our final Gap item is their favorite tee, and I believe it because this crewneck, long-sleeve T-shirt is  thin and SOFT. It costs $16.50 and is available in black, grey, and a very light pink. gap5.gif (15822 bytes)
Our next store is Benetton, a store that I have always loved. I still wear a pink cardigan of my mother's bought way back in the days when their logo was in lower white case letters with a green background. Benetton clothes last, and are classically cut, but sparked with definite elements of design.

The first thing that caught my eye was this bright shirt in this amazing blue-red color. It's a wool/acrylic knit tee with three-quarter sleeves, and a v-neck trimmed in satin. And if red is too bright for your taste, it also comes in gray. $58.00.

Next, I spied this great knitted scarf. It's rather big and is half wool, half acrylic. Like I said, it's big, but it's thin, so you can wrap it around many parts of you without feeling too bulky. $44.00.

Turtlenecks are great! And this one is even greater, because the neck part is extra long, adding dramatic drapes and scrunches that keep you extra warm. The rest of the sweater is rather thin, so the bulk is concentrated on the neck. It's made of, yes, wool and acrylic, and is available in red, light gray, charcoal, black, and olive. $78.00.
Now, this hip-length, wrap around knit tank top is made of a rayon/viscose/nylon blend and crosses the line between dress and top. It comes in a variety of colors like sweet sky blue, the lightest lavender, rose, a beige-y yellow, and white, and can be layered over and under a variety of sweaters. $34.00.
Last, but most definitely not least, is this bolero jacket with a hood. There are no buttons  and no pockets; it's made of polyester, and is one of the most artful articles of clothing I've seen in a while. $78.00.
Honestly, I was really put off by the back to school frenzy blasting inside of the South Street Seaport location of Abercrombie and Fitch. I overheard one mother quip to her daughter "$40 for a tee-shirt, I don’t think so." I couldn’t help but agree. Although I appreciate the soft and cozy, worn-in feel that the majority of AF's line possesses, I couldn’t help but notice that the prices were higher on items with noticeable, but hiply faded Abercromie and Fitch logos that are branded on most of their merchandise. I did, however, find myself growing very excited over a few items that were, to me, worth the price for instantaneous worn-in luxury.

The first of which was this lambswool/nylon, crewneck sweater. It's got three-quarter sleeves, and comes in gray and light blue. Plus, for the convenience of all the BoyZone members, there's a crafty little tag on the lower left side that identifies the wearer as one of the girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch…they'd take her if they had one wish…but she was gone since that summer...since that summer. $49.99.

Next, there's AF's merino wool/acrylic/nylon sweater with a little bow in the center. The neck is wide across the neck to let the straps of a tank top show, and the sweater itself is sheer enough to let a tank top's color show through. Comes in dark gray, light gray, navy blue, baby blue, and light pink. $59.50.

Then we have these great cotton/nylon tech chinos that are such fun to run around in. The material makes a swishing noise when you walk, and there's a panel of construction worker orange at the bottom part of the back. Plus, it's got an orange Velcro fly…Very cool! They come in khaki, olive, and blue. $49.50.

Now we have this lambswool sweater that is knitted using green and yellow colored yarn, creating a subtle yellow-green hue that looks great with the red velvet piping that runs along the collar and trims the bottom. And to make it even sweeter, there's embroidery of leaves and flowers on the back and the sleeves. $79.50.
Last, we have this 100% cotton shirt. It's very thin and light, great for summer, but can be a great layering piece for the fall. There's a string a little bit below the bust that's to be tied at the back, and accenting strings at the bottom of the sleeves. It comes it pale blue, light pink, khaki, and white. $49.50.
Well, that's all folks. I hope  this transition of seasons is made a little easier with these suggestions and selections. Until next month!

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