Think of Fall 2004 fashion as a tribute to the two major U.S. political parties and the upcoming presidential election.
On the conservative side, there are matchy-matchy tweed suits, pearls and blouses.
The more liberal side of fashion features wild mixes, luxe estate jewelry and metallics.
Of course, in fashion (like politics) there are always moderates and independents, so take your pick from these eclectic trends and wear your diversity well.
Prim tweed suits, bowed blouses, argyle vests and pencil skirts are ladylike visits to the career wear of decades past.
These buttoned-up styles look best when not worn too literally: instead try adding a modern touch by mixing shrunken tweed blazers with denim, choose boxy or fitted jacket styles with a frayed hem or add tights and metallic shoes to a ladies-who-lunch suit.
Inspiration: Coco Chanel
Caution: The tweedy thing can look just a tad matronly if it's head-to-toe. Try a menswear or boucle handbag or a tweed jacket with jeans for a touch of this trend.
The perfect accent for a cardigan and pencil skirt? How about a piece of estate jewelry or a piece that looks convincingly real.
Brooches make a huge comeback: no surprise so since they've been sported by fashionistas like Sarah Jessica Parker.
The freshest way to wear major jewelry this season is to pair it almost off-handedly: pearls mixed with a white shirt, vest and faded denim or wear a sparkly brooch in your hair.
Inspiration: Hip-hop stars, Elizabeth Taylor
Pretty trends like vintage-y satin camisoles and girly colors are a carry over from spring and summer.
Now, the camisoles go under wraps to soften menswear jackets and pink deepens to jewel tones including rich purples.
Look for bows, skinny belts that define the waist, ruffles, ribbon trims, beading and fur trims.
Skirts, some with pleats, kick pleats or softly ruffled hems, stay right around the knee area.
Shrugs (tiny, bolero-style jackets) add an extra layer to strapless dress, and fur pieces -- especially fur scarves, collars and capelets -- add glamour.
Inspiration: Old Hollywood
With the new layered mixes, the trick is to look like your style evolved instead of being carefully planned out.
If you're new to mixing high and low (designer with flea market finds, for example) and layering disparate elements, seek designer inspiration from Miuccia Prada (Miu Miu and Prada). Her mixes look effortless, modern and vintage: all at the same time.
Caution: While eclectic mixes may look easy, they actually require a very deft styling hand. Don't throw a vest over a shirt over a cami and tie and run out the door to work: practice in front of a full-length mirror first!
Inspiration: Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, vintage shoppers
Croc is the richest material for shoes and bags this season: the highly textured and luxe appearance is right in step with the tactile appeal of tweed and fur.
Metallic shoes -- especially gold -- and highly embellished sandals step straight from the red carpet and into daytime.
Not sure you want that much flash? Try boots, pumps and slingbacks for a polished finish.
Bags range from artsy pouchettes to heavily hardwared satchels in jewel tones.
Remix these items from the past few season:
- A-line skirts
- Soft scarves used as belts
- Clutch bags
- Bows and ruffles
- Faded slim fit jeans