Tops to Tips

Like a gift wrapped in tissue and bow or an impeccably garnished cocktail, a fashionable ensemble is nary complete without your hat and gloves. To formal wear, they bring Golden Age-glamour; to cold-weather dress, they bring all the coziness of a hot toddy at an Aspen chalet.

They may classify as accessories, but this fall hats and gloves have turned into statement pieces. What were once mainstays in the days of Betty Draper have until now been reserved for occasions like high tea or a day at the races. I think of throwback fashion formalities of the ’40s, when ladies like my grandmother from suburban Chicago would take the train to her job at a city bank with her hat and in fact two pairs of gloves – one to wear while reading the paper aboard and, the other, a fresh pair to greet the workday devoid of ink stains. Seems designers have been reminiscing, too, since the hat-and-glove combo appeared all over fall runways.

Hats, of course, have typically speckled among special occasion outfits, weekend wear and hipster culture alike. Beanies are having another day this season from BCBG’s basics to more unusual evolutions from Alexander Wang. Stella McCartney came out with a fantastically fashionable wool baseball cap that’s sporty luxe for the tomboy all grown up. From there, make sure to explore gloves in the season’s many styles and textures, including animal prints and patent leather. Pair a show-stopping headpiece with the elbow-length glove dominating fall catwalks and hello, Dolly!

On the runway, Ralph Lauren’s fall collection featured opulent formal wear – his evening gowns finished with shearling hats and opera gloves. Complete with feminine silhouettes and chandelier earrings, the result was a little “Anna Karenina,” a little “Downton Abbey,” and overwhelmingly exquisite. Donna Karan’s designs feature more shearling hats, this time with matching arm cuffs for an air of regal fierceness. The fur finishers completed full ensembles of luxurious draping and rich textures for looks elegant as an Upper East Side evening but with a feel of dramatic warrior chic. And speaking of drama, John Galliano’s flair was ever so apparent at the Oscar de la Renta show where delicate mesh gloves poked out of extra-long sleeved blazers that were bold colored and belted messily. Topping the look were grand cloche hats that seemed three stories high.

Tommy Hilfiger, on the other hand, went more subdued with his modern-day Ivy League looks and plenty of Brit inspiration. Pairing a neat pull-on angora hat and fingerless mittens with a multi-textured argyle mini-dress, knee highs and tasseled loafers, he produced the stuff of prepster dreams. And for a ladylike look worthy of the classiest dames, Kate Spade infused a colorful modern-day approach to her fall outfits with inspired classics that matched brights in hat and coat and neutrals in gloves and bag.

Grandma, I think, would approve.

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