You've seen the soft, romantic style of flouncy skirts, fitted denim jackets, and cowboy boots on Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, and fashion designers have declared the "country chic" look as one of the biggest trends for fall and winter.
"The great thing about this all-American style is that it's not strictly 'country,'" says Deezah Suleman, CEO of WardrobeAve.com. "Now 'country chic' includes dashes of both biker/rocker and boho chic styles. Take a cue from Taylor Swift and keep it casual."
A country-style sundress paired with cute kicky boots was a top summertime look that can extend into autumn. "You can easily transition your summer country chic-wear to fall by throwing a brown leather jacket (not black, which is more of a biker look) over a boot-cut jeans and breezy tank combo. Distressed jeans are OK, too, but stick with less loud accessories," Suleman says.
Suleman also suggests carrying over this summer's feather and fringe bohemian styles into fall, but in moderation, such as wearing just one or two feather extensions or carrying a fringe handbag. "Keep your countrified accessories to one or two -- especially if you're sporting cowboy boots or a cowboy hat, an absolute must for these looks," she says. "Luckily, brown, tan and caramel boots with Western flair (think buckles, slouchy styles and sewn-in designs) come in lots of styles, from low ankle boots to those that fit snugly over the knee, so everybody can find a style that suits her body. Plus, either low style or high style works for chilly fall weather, not to mention the fact that many leather boots are durable enough to last through the winter slush and snow. As for hats, we like those with small embellishments, such as a beaded wrap or small studs. Again, less is more."
Fashion expert Carilyn Vaile also has suggestions for the country chic look. First is the maxi skirt. "I'm crazy for items that are multifunctional and can transform at whim in seconds, which is why the maxi skirt is listed at No. 1 on my fall/winter country chic priority list," Vaile says. "A printed maxi skirt can look amazing as a strapless dress in the evening with heels or with jeweled cowboy boots. Add a cowgirl-inspired belt for a more casual daytime dress look." She suggests choosing a pull-on skirt rather than one with difficult fasteners, such as a hook and eye or an invisible zipper, which limit the skirt's flexibility.
Vaile's next pick is a flounced turtleneck for fall and winter. Her design, available at http://www.vfashions.com, was inspired by her fans' requests for turtlenecks of all different sleeve lengths and silhouettes. "So I designed a turtleneck top with a flounce cuff that is powerfully feminine, just as country chic should be," she says.
The feminine theme crosses over to cowboy boots, too. "There is no doubt that cowboy boots have a masculine overtone, yet designers are giving them feminine flavor with colors, stones, fringe and other creative design techniques," Vaile says. "This yin-and-yang harmony makes cow-gal boots a must-have fit for any occasion. Plus, they come in such a wide variety of choices that you can express every facet of your personality with them."
Also on Vaile's "must" list of countrified accessories: the multi-wrap belt made from a blend of leather and jute. "Think of it as a cowboy's lasso. It's a subliminal message to the men out there: 'Come and catch me!'" she says. "Plus, when wrapping a belt multiple times, you can accentuate your waist." A belt that is made with natural fabric fits country chic style far better than skinny silver belts, though a silver belt with country turquoise accents can be incorporated into your look. And speaking of turquoise, Vaile says a turquoise-accented bolo tie makes a fantastic, style-appropriate choice.
Karen Leano, CEO of Cayetano Legacy Collection Inc., starts her list of country chic looks for fall and winter with leather skirts. "Gorgeous knee-length leather skirts paired with wedge boots and casual chic tops give off a sleek yet demure style," she says.
Leano also loves bold-colored tartans for fall. "Plaids, tartans and boxed shirts are in. Patterns are always eye-catching, and plaid achieves a subtle 'I'm not trying too hard' effect. Getting too cold for you in just a plaid shirt? Add a cape or poncho on top to accent the outfit."
Leano's next pick? Aviator jackets. "They're a nice masculine balance to the very feminine country chic look," she says, speaking of still-stylish floral skirts, dresses and tops. "To make your aviator jacket look more feminine, pair it with long skirts."
Accessories complete the look, and Leano recommends saddlebag purses and bold statement jewelry. "Pair outfits with gorgeous bold statement necklaces or chunky bracelets and rings for a complete, magazine-worthy look."