If Donna Karan didn't invent uniform dressing in the eighties, she went a very long way toward making the idea a sexy one. Now, with the economy in a nosedive, she's brought the clever, potentially budget-saving concept back for Fall, and the result is one of her strongest-looking collections in seasons. It starts with a jacket or a draped jersey top—all exaggerated, sculpted shoulders with a wrapped or belted waist. On the bottom, it's either a long, lean skirt or tapered trousers. That powerful, triangular silhouette came down the runway in all sorts of arrangements, each ready to be pulled apart and reconfigured with any number of different pieces. A caramel calfskin trench jacket, a white poplin button-down shirt, or a black silk parka might be paired with a stretchy, below-the-knee jersey skirt, while a portrait-collar alpaca jacket or turtleneck bodysuit might top cropped pants.

But it wasn't all about separates. Dresses, whether they came long-sleeved or in a drapey goddess style, followed the same commanding lines. Karan only abandoned the bold shoulder to reproduce on the runway a look that she herself has been wearing for years. Made from satin jersey suspended from a necklace of leather-wrapped rings, the halter-style "cold shoulder" dress—as she calls it—has been battle-tested not only for sex appeal, but also for ease. Who wouldn't want to slip into a uniform like that?