Fall Fashion Trends: Hourglass Dresses, Tartan and Skirts

PHOTO: Actress Kate Winslet
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Want an hourglass figure but don't have the willpower or the genetics to make it happen? Then fashion has a solution for you.

The new optical illusion dresses literally redraw a woman's silhouette -- whether she's naturally curvy or looking to add some curves -- and they're among this fall's fashion trends making the leap from the runway.

Kate Winslet wowed the crowd at the Venice Film Festival last week in a black and cream Stella McCartney dress. With a sleeveless cutout on top and cunning black panels on each side, the dress whittled away inches from Winslet's waistline while accentuating her voluptous bustline.

Earlier this year, Liv Tyler wore a similar Stella McCartney in electric blue with black panels.

But McCartney is not the only designer cashing in on this trend. Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian have been photographed wearing an Alexander McQueen design that uses black lines on a white dress to create the impression of an hourglass. And popular stores like Topshop sell a knock-off version that's thousands cheaper.

Liv Tyler, left, and Kate Winslet, right, in Stella McCartney, and Topshop's version, center.

Connie Wang, global editor of fashion website Refinery 29, says these new silhouette dresses are a celebration of womanhood.

"For so long that waifish boyfish figure was celebrated," Wang said. "Now, a lot of strong women who are icons, Beyonce, Michelle Obama, have volutputous beautiful figures. Fashion is playing into that. And for those of us who might need a little help, the optical iullusion gives you an hourglass figure."

Wang calls the look sexy with a little humor. "It's doing sexy with a little bit of wink," she said.

As for the rest of fall's fashion trends, Wang says there's something for everyone. "There's a lot more practical sense of dressing on the runways that's relatable to the average consumer. There's skirts, pants and mid-level heels for women of all ages, shapes and styles."

When New York fashion week opens tomorrow with a preview for spring 2012, Wang expects to see a continuation of the practical, as well as more "playful dressing," including playsuits and fun, clashing patterns.

"It's clown chic," she said. "We'll have to see if that's going to happen or not."

But, with fall upon us, Wang tells us about four other trends we might want to tap into.

Tartan, bright pants, thigh-high slits and midi-skirts part Fall 2011 trends.

Tartan

No this is not your grandmother's tartan.

This fall offers tartan with a twist. "Maybe electric green and pink tartan," Wang said.

Plaids this year are big and bold, a celebration of preppy. "Waspy is cool again," Wang said.

Bright Pants

This fall will see a big move toward color, in contrast to the neutrals and blacks that become more popular as the weather turns colder.

And this season the color will be on pants. "We'll be seeing a lot of women moving toward neons and super-saturated colors," Wang said.

But if the idea of neon pink pants is a little too clownish, you can always choose a brightly colored handbag or coat.

Thigh-High Slits

After a season of women covering themselves in skirts from waist to toe, this fall offers a dose of sexiness with hip-grazing slits.

"It's all about confusing other people," Wang said. "Sexy? Dowdy? What am I feeling?"

Midi-Skirts

The "Mad Men" love affair continues with the comeback of the mid-calf length skirt, this time in cool metallics and mixed prints and with menswear tailoring.

The good news: "Midi-skirts looks good on everyone."

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