Talk about a marathon window-shopping session: three full days spent prowling the 1,200 showrooms in the 15-story Atlanta Apparel Mart during the annual fall fashion market last month.
Here are some trends and neat things spotted on the racks, runways and backs of manufacturers' reps and buyers.
* Trendiest footwear to team with your new pantsuit: Cowboy boots.
* Simplest way to update last year's long jacket: Cinch it with a wide, big-buckle belt.
* Cheapest way to look chic next fall: Buy an inexpensive ($15 or so) black beret and wear it with everything. (Stick it with pins for evening.)
* Most amusing -- and comfortable -- take-off of the popular menswear look: A "gangster sweater" by Pronto Modo. Knitted into the front of the oversized sweater is the image of a '40s-style gangster -- complete with double-breasted, pin-striped suit, fedora and cigar.
* Most sensible trend in several seasons: big, structured purses. So big, each could hold a dozen of those silly little purses that have been on recent "what's in" lists.
* Best news for the thirtysomething set: The next collection of Miraclesuits by Swim Shaper will feature styles and prints that are decidedly more updated than those in the first collection, which made its debut earlier this year.
Made from a super-stretchy fabric, the Miraclesuit does wonders for the slightly out-of-shape body.
"Initially, we thought it would appeal to the missy [matronly] customer," said Miraclesuit's sales manager, Barbara Jacobs. "But we found the baby boomer was our big customer -- the woman with a couple of children, the woman who works, who has no time for the gym. We're rethinking the collection with her in mind."
* Finally, the motif that has everyone bullish: cows. There are fearsome-looking steer heads on bolo ties and belt buckles; cute, spotted bovines on the pockets of kiddie clothes by Sweet Potatoes; and calfskin bags, belts and shoes -- all printed with leopard spots or tiger stripes.
DO have a cow, man.