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Bold Choices: Owners of boutiques discuss the season’s hottest fashion trends 

click to enlarge Sweetest Stitch (431 N. Ridge Road) carries a pair of burgundy corduroy overalls ($84) with functional chest, front and back pockets. Snake print V-neck midi dress ($68) features bohemian dolman sleeves and is available at Mod & Soul (323 W. Broad St.).

Sweetest Stitch (431 N. Ridge Road) carries a pair of burgundy corduroy overalls ($84) with functional chest, front and back pockets. Snake print V-neck midi dress ($68) features bohemian dolman sleeves and is available at Mod & Soul (323 W. Broad St.).

As the temperatures change and the holidays approach, the best of the year's fashion comes out to play. But this season feels different than falls that have come before: Women's fashion is bolder than ever. Women of the world are bolder, too.

A variety of female-led social movements such as Time's Up, Me Too and Everytown for Gun Safety have made it onto front pages and into daily conversation. Some of those movements have leveraged fashion to spread the word, including celebrities who wore black dresses at the Golden Globes and Lady Gaga, who chose to wear an oversized men's suit to accept her Women in Hollywood award from Elle Magazine.

'Tis the season to express your wild side, you have every permission and every excuse. This fall, Richmond boutiques are filling their hangers and shelves with trends that allow you to do so. Here are a few finds in the area with thoughts from the owners:

Animal Instincts

Some may say that animal print was never out of style. If it weren't out, then it's evolved into an even bigger beast this year. From hats to shoes, pants to makeup, the influence of animal-inspired prints is just about everywhere.

Think beyond the cloth and wear the trend on your ears. Nina Zabal has been rapidly creating new statement earrings inspired by patterns and collections straight from designers at New York Fashion Week. It's no surprise that one of the patterns that made its way into her latest collection is leopard print. They are made from polymer clay, gold-plated brass and stainless steel. You can find them on her site at shopheartlily.com or stop into Ashby (310 W. Cary St. in Carytown). Prices range from $25 to $250.

For something of a different breed, try snakeskin. Mod & Soul (323 W. Broad St.) carries a snake print V-neck midi dress ($68). It features bohemian dolman sleeves and a light, flowing fabric. While the pattern may nod to a wild vibe, the neutral brown tones are easily paired with fall basics like leather jackets, booties and tights.

One and Done

"Jumpsuits aren't going anywhere," says Daniela Paraschiv at Firefly Lane Boutique (2005-A Huguenot Road). "It's the easiest way to get dressed and make a statement."

If you're a lady on the move, you own a jumpsuit. If you don't, you should. Jumpsuits made a big resurgence several seasons ago and the styles continue to become more wearable, more flattering, and more modern.

Parashiv's store carries a variety of jumpsuits ready for play.  One cherry red Storia jumpsuit ($69) features ruffled bell-bottoms and ties at the shoulder. Another more conservative olive green floral print En Creme jumpsuit ($64) has short sleeves and a flattering wrap top and tie at the waist. Both are in essential Pantone colors for fall.

It's a Man's World

Menswear has been a political statement since women started wearing pants into the office during the 1960s. During the past half century, menswear has adapted more and more to the feminine figure. During Hilary Clinton's recent presidential bid, the power suit had more play than ever before. This season, however, menswear silhouettes aren't limited to blazers and trousers.

Traveling Chic Boutique (3143 W. Cary St.) owner Annie Cosby says she's added two new tuxedo dresses to the store's fall collection. One Greylin white tuxedo dress ($147) features long sleeves and comfortable silk fabric. Another black tuxedo dress ($133) is more feminine with a strapless sweetheart neckline, accentuated by a lapellike border.  The boutique reopened Oct. 19 after renovating its Carytown shop.

Corduroy

As the dress code turns more casual and bolder, women are looking for options outside of denim. "Corduroys are a comfortable alternative to denim and I think that's exactly why they are coming back in style," says Sweetest Stitch owner Niki Kong.

Corduroy can be found in many Richmond boutiques. The new take on the retro trend is less stiff than the classic interpretations you'll find in thrift and consignment stores. Sweetest Stitch carries a pair of burgundy corduroy overalls ($84). They are a familiar pinafore design with functional chest, front, and back pockets.

In another nod to the jumpsuit trend, Sweetest Stitch carries a deep V-neck jumpsuit ($80) in a rich teal color. The wide leg design is best when layered over a fitted long sleeve shirt or tee. The adjustable straps make it easy for a variety of body shapes to wear.

It's Rich

For Posh Sake (9502 Chamberlayne Road) owner Brook Fulwider says that "jewel tones have been a huge hit for fall." Mustard, magenta, teal and burgundy top are her favorite hues. Take home one of the boutique's magenta three-quarter bell sleeve dress ($42) for workwear and a cozy swing magenta bell sleeve sweater for the weekend ($47).

Sometimes these rich shades are best laid out in patterns, according to Shauna Smith, partner and co-owner of the Ashby, Clementine and Clover family. She pulled out a cropped sweater ($9) from Ashby's latest stock. It features thick turquoise, white and golden-rod yellow stripes.

"There are a lot of influences from the '70s in Ashby," Smith says. "Bold is definitely the way to go." S

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