Cool in the Heat

Think we can’t do cooler-months fashions in South Florida? Think again. We went to some of Fort Lauderdale’s most fashionable shops for tips and trends – and found northern style with Florida flair.

As the summer drips away into the fall, stylists, boutiques, and fashion houses are swapping out light, playful fabrics for layers, darker hues and warm knits.

Not in South Florida — right? A place where people can enjoy a day at the beach into the new year and locals celebrate a dip into the low 80s, the region seems to be in a perpetual summer, save for the three days a year a “cold front” comes through. A place where we have to settle for flipping through magazine and Instagram posts of clothes and accessories that just won’t work.

Not so fast, local fashion experts say.

Walking through her boutique Lilacs and Lilies, owner Michelle DiMarco sweeps through the racks and neatly folded shelves of clothing. One after another, she pulls out clothing that’s set to be hot for the fall, and all of which can easily be worn right here.

“No one wants to be wearing a sweater,” she says. “We’ll buy lighter weight items. We might buy the occasional heavier piece for if someone is going out of town, but we definitely are very aware of climate changes and how it’s so hot here year round.”

Not only are different styles going to be attainable in South Florida, but the looks from earlier seasons will extend into the fall months. Molly Carey, the owner of La La Couture, is looking forward to the arrival of fall colors in rompers and maxi dresses.

“There’s a lot of trends that are sort of carried over from summer and spring, which is great,” she says. “There’s a lot of bold prints this fall, a lot of floral prints in fall colors — browns and reds and pumpkins and yellow, beautiful bohemian maxi dresses that are in these floral prints.”

The beaches will never be out of bounds, so DiMarco will continue to stock up on swimwear – especially one-pieces. Her inventory includes one-pieces in colorful florals, sexy deep v-necks, cutouts and high-waisted bottoms.

“Don’t think that one-pieces aren’t sexy, because they totally are,” she says. “I think sometimes when you aren’t so revealing, it leaves more to the imagination.”

The summer was filled with music festivals, with styles inspired by the playful ’70s or the tough kid persona of the ’90s. These throwback looks are still going strong – no need to splurge on a brand new wardrobe. With that plus easy-to-style neutrals on fashion’s radar with pops of bold colors mean fall fashion is truly in reach for South Florida’s fashion elite.

Bohemian Rhapsody 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking into her crystal ball for the fall season, Carey, the owner of La La Couture, has been ordering pieces that exude romantic, bohemian charm a la bold prints, ruffles, lace and florals in warm hues.

“In the ’70s, there were a lot of very flattering silhouettes,” she says, adding that the charm of festival wear at music shindigs like Coachella has lent to the attraction to the era’s fashion.

For her store, she’s stocking up on long maxi dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, figure-hugging flared jeans and high-waisted bottoms. Chunky heels (pictured above), floppy hats and statement jewelry, very reminiscent of the funky decade, will also be seen on store shelves.

Happily for South Florida, Carey is seeing lighter pieces on fashion’s radar, a contrast to the extremely cold winters around the country that require heavy knits and fabrics. Instead, the fall will be ushering in kimono covers and denim jackets.

“These are all relevant in South Florida; you can wear all those things,” she says of the bohemian clothing. “You’re going to see a lot of floral maxi dresses in fall colors.”

La La Couture, 1918 E. Sunrise Blvd., 954.712.1100,

Go Bold 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking for more adventure in your wardrobe for the next season? Fall doesn’t have to just be about warm tones. On the contrary, J. McLaughlin’s lookbook is chock full of geometric designs, paisley, plaid and gingham prints in print blue and orange shades normally reserved for the spring and summer months.

“The J.McLaughlin wardrobe features season-spanning styles in a mix of fabrics and colors that are perfect for right now and a little later when fall makes its first footprints,” a company spokesperson says.

Women can indulge in indigo and citrus hues splashed across sweaters, dresses, and skirts. Their accessories are equally bold, with thin scarfs in daring prints. Don’t hold back — fashionistas can mix fabrics and prints together for a show-stopping look.

For the guys, J. McLaughlin’s designs are more toned down, heading in the direction of the neutral trend in its collection of classic khaki pants to be paired with traditional gingham button-down shirts.

It’s like they designed around South Florida’s style.

J. McLaughlin, 808 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954.530.9710,

A Nod to Neutrals 

blue-blazer-moda-marioSet on Las Olas Boulevard, Moda Mario has been in business since 1975, providing residents and visitors alike with high-end fashion for men and women.

For the upcoming fall season, style director Claudia Argiro has been curating a collection of soft neutrals with accents of bold jewel tones — think camel, bunny grey and dusty rose punched up with oxblood, aubergine, and the classic navy and black.

“We have a good mix of local clientele and seasonal clientele who come down certain months — we have to cater to both,” Argiro says.

For women, Moda Mario will ease into the fall season with unique pieces that bring together different styles, accented with detailing. This includes one-shoulder cocktail dresses, tailored jumpsuits, pleated skirts, dresses with mixed fabrics (such as florals and lace in a single piece), moto jackets, lightweight vintage pieces with hued furs, and washed velvet blazers.

Gentlemen can look forward to layering their looks with cashmere and light wool cardigans paired with slim-fitted casual and dress shirts, from solid colors to striped and adventurous floral prints. The classic look of a dapper man is returning, hence Moda Mario’s attention to vests, silk hankies, and cufflinks. For a more relaxed look, Argiro is honing in on unconstructed blazers to go with jeans and leather sneakers.

Think this will never work in South Florida? Think again. These fashion-forward looks will still work in the warm fall months, thanks to indoor venues continuing to crank up the air conditioning, as well as temperature dips in the evening hours. Plus, lighter fabrics make all the difference.

“We have to be careful with the weight of fabrics. We are so particular when buying for fall to make sure fabrics are breathable, soft, lightweight and easy to travel with,” Argiro says.

Moda Mario, 805 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954.467.3258,

Make It Work 

image4The running joke down here is that ladies whip out their boots as soon as a light breeze is present. Cécile Charlotin, the maven behind fashion blog Cecile A La Mode, doesn’t believe the myth that South Florida has to sit on the sidelines for fall fashion.

“Fall is one of my favorite seasons, but it’s always really hard to get to pick the most up-to-date piece because you’re still wanting to wear summer attire,” she says. “What people down here do is incorporate fall fashion and just kind of make it so that it’s either loose fitting or they pair it with a crop top just to make it easier to wear in the heat.”

Charlotin suggests tapping into the popular distressed boyfriend jean trend with an off-the-shoulder top, crop top, or even a thin, silky bomber jacket. For heavier fabrics, simply throwing a sweater or light jacket over your shoulders gives a good look without forgoing comfort in the heat.

For accessories, women can still indulge in knee-high boots or hats without breaking a sweat. Charlotin pairs her boots with distressed shorts or a dress to tap into the look with South Florida flair. Floppy hats, even those made of felt, can be worn with a loose-fitting tank top.

A look she is adding to her closet are baseball hats in suede or leather material in neutral colors, for a dressier, yet casual look. She’s also on the lookout for trendy sneakers.

“You can pull off anything that is neutral; it’s definitely a good fall look,” she says.


Grungy Throwback 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since opening eight years ago, Lilac and Lilies has become the go-to shopping destination for the fashion-forward woman. Owner Michelle DiMarco has curated a widespread collection of clothing styles, accessories, and home decor, but foresees the ’90s fashion comeback continuing into the fall season.

“The ’90s trend is really popular right now, the chokers and the flannel and the denim shorts and all that,” she says. “It’s incorporating more layers, like a flannel, some kind of floppy hat and a choker. And maybe some kind of cool, grungy graphic tee.”

The store carries fun, vintage style t-shirts of classic rock bands and pop culture from the ’80s and ’90s, which can be paired with a light chambray coverup or a flannel button-up — a look that DiMarco says is “effortless” and easy.

The era is also reminiscent of darker colors, a great excuse to try dark lip colors and nail polish if you haven’t already. Faux tattoo chokers (you remember those) are resurgent as well, but an updated take includes leather ties and metal collar necklaces. Swap out your Doc Martens for slimmer, chic booties in leather or suede, and it’s a blast from the past with a present day feel.

Even better, with the ’90s trend emerging in the summer, those who have already tapped into the style will be able to translate it into the fall effortlessly.

“No one wants to spend a bucket load of money every season, nor do you have to,” DiMarco says. “An awesome way to transition your summer to fall piece, if you have a summer romper, to transition it into fall, you can put on an ankle bootie and a denim jacket.”

Lilac and Lilies, 2541 E. Sunrise Blvd., 954.530.3109,


Originally published in Fort Lauderdale magazine.

Leave a Reply