Out And About: Fall Fashion

As the election campaign heats up while the weather cools down, this is one autumn you don't want to spend indoors watching news broadcasts. Wrap up, and enjoy the elements instead. Whether you're taking care of business or taking off for a weekend jaunt, you can find outerwear to express your personal style. The season's dress coats have clean, conservative lines with a new touch of opulence: Their manufacturers are weaving in just enough cashmere to give you a luxurious feel without an exorbitant price. A subdued palette includes lots of charcoal grays for men and earth tones for women. Offsetting the sober silhouettes, hats have made a big comeback. And you will see the occasional leather coat worn over pinstripes. Leisure jackets are practical and versatile, with warm, removable linings that work on their own as sweaters or vests. Even skiwear has evolved into casual clothing more adaptable off the slopes than the skin-tight outfits of years past. The flexible functionality that distinguishes this fall's looks means that many coats can do double duty, so you can dash from work to play without missing a beat. Oh yes, and don't forget to vote.

Let it Rain

Before synthetics were invented, raincoats were made of silk, the finest and most water-resistant natural fabric. Now, man-made microfibers imitate silk more closely, repelling moisture and allowing the skin to breathe. You'll see a multitude of lengths, although midcalf is still classic, and the same earthy colors as in topcoats. Shorter, sportier rainwear is more colorful--but never electric.

On Your Own Time

Cozy and familiar shapes--reminiscent of the pea

jacket and the car coat--make for easygoing weekend wear this season. Even when the fabrics aren't natural, they're as sturdy as the flannel lumberjack shirts you wore in college. Accessories add comfort rather than clutter. And instead of heavy metal, designers are adorning their creations with leather, on elbow patches and discreet trim.

To Ski . . . Or Not To Ski

Where have all the neons gone? Today's skiwear colors come straight from nature--stone, bone, and primary solids. Ski duds have grown up. For sport, the clothes are still flexible but have a bit more substance. For aprs-ski, coats in sensual weaves are cuddly but chic. The extras run the gamut from expanses of fringed cashmere to warm, whimsical mittens.

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