Fall Essentials

To get the hottest looks, pull on some boots, slip into a trench coat and belt yourself

Fashion

October 08, 2006|By Tanika White | Tanika White,Sun Reporter

The weather has changed, and you've stretched your summer outfits as far as they can go.

Face it: It's time to go in search of a fall wardrobe.

And shopping for clothes can be expensive. So how can you update your closet without sending yourself straight to the poorhouse?

"One place you're going to want to spend money is on a couple of really key accessories," says Amy Cafazzo, style expert for Marshalls.

When most women think accessories, they think handbags. Purses in oversized styles with fancy hardware have been hot for several seasons. And they still are.

But this fall, other must-have accessories are boots, belts and coats - especially trench coats.

By mixing any or all of these three with clothing you already have, you can spruce up your cool-weather ensembles - and save a few bucks, too.

If you can only afford to invest in just one of these trendy items, put your money into a few cute belts, says Genevieve Yraola, senior fashion market editor for Shop Etc. magazine.

"The way to wear belts," Yraola says, "is to belt it over coats, belt it over your chunky sweaters. That's how you're going to get your cinched waist. That's how you're going to pull the entire look together, whether it be menswear, whether it be the layered look. That's why I feel that belts are the most important accessory that you're going to buy this season."

The layered look that's popular for fall - long sweater over shorter sweater; shrug over a bubble dress - is smartly accentuated by a belt, for example.

Or "you can also add a really wide, red belt to add a splash of color," Cafazzo says. "Pair it with a pencil skirt and a classic white blouse."

Silhouettes have changed this fall from seasons past - from lean and form-fitting all over to an emphasis on volume, in sleeves, collars and egg and bubble shapes.

"Because of these new silhouettes," says Nicole Phelpf, executive editor at Style.com, "you want to balance out the proportion with a substantial shoe or boot."

Boots are hot, hot, hot for fall. And they come in many different variations. Flat boots, chunky-heeled boots, slouch boots, cuffed boots, bootie-boots. Buy one or try them all. Just get a boot, fashion experts say.

"I think that the important thing to think about if you're going out shopping for boots is that they're falling into two sort of main categories," Phelpf says. "The fall boot, which you can think of as a modified riding boot - which you can wear with your jeans tucked into it - and then there's the huge platform or wedge boot, which really came into focus this season."

And on top of it all, the outerwear trend for fall is the trench coat. Donna Karan showed one in gold quilted metallic trench on her fall runway this past spring. Ellen Tracy has a beautiful version in red - the season's hot color for accents and accessories.

Of course, this fall is a particularly liberal season, where just about any coat will do - from wraps to military styles and pea coats, says Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom.

But "the trench coat is a classic piece that you can wear each season because it can be updated to meet the current trends by way of buttons, belts, color, prints and fit," says Andrea Lui, spokeswoman for Old Navy. "Also, the silhouette is flattering on everyone."

Many women have trench coats hanging in their closets already. In which case, Lui is saying, freshen it up with an animal print or wide, double-prong belt. Or change the buttons.

But if you're shopping for your first trench coat, classic is a safe bet, experts say.

"She should buy a traditional one," says Phelpf. "Knee length, I think that's the standard."

So that's your belt, your knee-length trench and your knee-high pair of riding boots.

Three new items, and you're the picture of fall.

tanika.white@baltsun.com

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