By BARBARA BRADLEY
Scripps Howard News Service
After seasons of fitted jackets and skinny jeans, fashion has nowhere to go but out.
The new direction has come to us first in exaggerated shoulders and peplums. Now we are beginning to see dresses with folds or gathers around the hips.
This is new. A photographer, shooting such a dress recently, complained that the rear stuck out. He was unaware Marc Jacobs charged a lot of money to make it stick out.
More daring designer dresses have pockets that fan out at the hips like baskets or large caps of fabric that cloak the hips like petals or plates of armor. The shape women fight constantly is coming prepackaged.
Of course, we have not always been uncomfortable with exaggerated bottoms and hips.
The bustle was once the height of fashion, its charms fully captured in the paintings of the Impressionists.
You can sort of see why women liked them. You didn't have to be a Beyonce back then. Every woman had something to wag.
Designers, of course, know many women will be leery of this trend, and quite often you will find a subtle balance in their designs, a barely noticeable tweak to create the illusion of a more hourglass shape.
They may expand the shoulders with wide-set straps, or little cap sleeves, or off-shoulder straps or folds of fabric at the shoulders or breast drawing the eye up. The straps of the Marc Jacobs dress offer just a little unexpected padding.
Aisle-clearing designs are out there too, in tiers of tulle or voluminous gowns that seem unrealistic anywhere but in an antebellum ballroom. Most of us won't be going there.
Nevertheless, we are surely headed toward casting a bigger shadow.
Already, the greatcoat looks luscious again. Who doesn't like a big snugly coat, perhaps tied at the waist, the kind we associate with Ingrid Bergman or Lauren Bacall?
From '40s-style wraps, offered now by labels such as MaxMara, it's not so great a leap to a double-wide opera coat by Jil Sander, or a sandwich-shaped peacoat from Dries Van Noten.
Women's fashion may have walked the straight and narrow long enough. There's value in being a broad.