Fall Fashion Q+A

Families in the Loop has staged a fashion coup by joining forces with THE JulieWatsonStyle! One of their leading consultants, Annie Barlow, is here to share fall’s hottest style secrets. And she should know: in 2010, Chicago Social Magazine named this mama of two tots as one of Chicago’s “Best Dressed.” Looking fab in five minutes, integrating old pieces for a fresh, post-baby look, back-to-work basics and – finally! – giving us the lowdown on combining blue/black and brown/black. Get ready, mamas, for the chic-est fall you’ve ever had!


As a very busy mom, I never have more than a few seconds to pick out an outfit. There is ZERO time to go through my closet to choose what to wear! Do you have any tips?

AOB’s Response:

I completely understand! It seems like getting out the door is extra-tough when you have young kids. I recommend starting with a great layering piece such as a cardigan, a relaxed blazer, or even a light jacket that has a little more structure. With a great pair of jeans and simple tee, it’ll make you feel fabulous. Sometimes, I’ll pull in a fresh color or pattern, too. Try a bright cardigan for daytime casual or slip into a striped blazer to create a more polished look.


Since having two kids, my figure has changed and my weight has shifted. Even though the scale reads the same number, my clothes don’t look or feel the same. However, I have a closet full of clothes that I don’t want to get rid of (and some items even have the tags on them!). What should I do with the clothes I love that might not fit the same way?

AOB’s Response:

Have you tried them with different silhouettes? After baby #2, I found that while I could button my jeans, they didn’t look the same on me. So now I tend to wear tunics or a longer fitted tee with a cardigan to change where the eye is drawn. If I lift the line of my hip and draw it up, that helps elongate my shape.

You can also try adding a belt, which helps trick the eye around where things “start” and “end.”  Last but not least, a deeper scoop or wider neck under your layering pieces can help those of us moms who chests may have grown or shrunk after babies.

If these tricks don’t work, it’s probably time to give the clothes away (and find new clothes to love!). There are many ways to do this, either by donating to local charities or selling them through consignment stores.


I’m starting to think about going back to work, which means… interviews!  It’s been years since I’ve been in the workforce, and I have no idea what is appropriate for interviews.  Can you recommend a few essentials that can get me through the interview process?

AOB’s Answer:

There is a term that we use in the apparel biz called a “suit system,” which is all about finding separates, and perhaps a dress, that can create several different outfits out of a few key pieces.

To start, I would suggest finding a great pair of trousers, a perfect fitting skirt (pencil or A-line), a suit jacket or blazer, and a dress in fabrics that are either the same or very similar in color and weight.

Pair that with two or three shirts and a cardigan, and you have created your very own suit system, with more than enough to get you through the interview process. If you’re not interested in buying an entire “suit system,” a suit jacket or blazer with a skirt and just 2 shirts will be enough to help you land that new job.

Remember, if your work is business casual, all of these pieces can be found in casual fabrics (cottons, canvas and light weight wools).

If you’re allowed to wear jeans, even if only on Fridays, find a great fitting jean that won’t show your undies while working at your desk. I would suggest a mid-rise to avoid that situation! A dark rinse is appropriate and sophisticated for the office and easily transitions to a fab after-work look when you pair it with a pair of sexy heels.


What is the truth about mixing navy and black and/or brown and black? Opinions and trends on this topic seem to change from season to season and year to year. Can you give us the latest update on this? What other colors are hot for late summer and early fall?

AOB’s Response:

Fall 2011 is all about COLOR! Color mixing, color matching, and pattern on pattern—you can’t go wrong.  The same goes for navy and black and brown and black. Especially navy and black: this combo is so chic. Forget what the old rules may have said. After all, if navy and black is good enough for Coco Chanel, it’s good enough for us!

I love these dark colors mixed together. Even when it comes to accessorizing: if you choose to wear an all black outfit, choose brown for your accessories or vice versa.

Psst: if you find that it is still warm after Labor Day, keep those white jeans in the rotation! It’s perfectly fine to wear white jeans after Labor Day if high temps are in the air.

Winter white pants (just slightly warmer than true stark white) are also a very chic way to keep light pants in your wardrobe during the colder months. In a wool or wool/silk blend, this is my favorite cocktail pant come December.

Happy Fall Fashion!

Want to learn more about the incomparable JulieWatsonStyle?  Check them out here!

Find out where we got this awesome pic of the Marc Jacobs’ show here…


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