Monday, August 17, 2009

Essentials To Fall Up Your Summer Staples

The appearance of back-to-school sale signs at your local mall can mean only one thing: reading, 'riting and retail--it's time to shop for fall fashions!

But wait!

There's no need to retire all of your summer staples for the annual closet switchover. You can winterize your look with just a few key items.

Layer, layer, layer. An oversize, slouchy boyfriend jacket/blazer thrown over your favorite warm weather dress or skirt is comfy, cozy and a chic must-have this season (and has even more appeal if you actually snagged it from your guy's closet).

Add some cardigans, turtlenecks and lightweight sweaters to your wardrobe mix to warm things up when temps dip and use as layering pieces for extra cold protection. Anything that's cashmere with a bit of feminine frou frou will become your new best friend. Throw stuff on and off to suit the temperature and still dress like a the epitome of feminine chic.

Unless you live in an igloo, skip the puffy Michelin Man coat and look for something made of heavy wool or cashmere that's fully lined. Black, camel, off-white, heather gray, or navy are your best bets for a coat that goes with everything. If you're afraid of looking shapeless, there's no better way to combat that than with a belt cinched at the waist.

I wrote about the versatility of a great pair of peep toe ankle boots on "Heels Are A Girl's Best Friend," but if the forecast calls for snow, you're going to have to get a pair of great warm boots, too--I suggest something that looks really sleek with a cute skirt and tights or with a pair of skinny jeans tucked into 'em, but will still keep you warm and toasty without forsaking style.

Rev up your cold weather look with a pair of seriously funky colored tights or dress up your no-nonsense snow boots with a textured or patterned pair. Why not try a footless version on for size? Very retro modern! And if you dare, try on the latest trend: grunge-y, ripped tights. Subscribing to this very cheap chic trend means that hole-y pair of tights you ripped in approximately 48 minutes after purchasing because you were in a rush to get out the door can be salvaged. They're not ruined, they're supposed to look like that!

Of course an outfit is not complete without a fantastic bag! Gray is definitely the new black this season from gritty dark pavement hues, earthy-grey tints and light grey tones. The shade is soft and sophisticated, but with a bit of an edge without looking too goth-y.

How to wear these pieces: Pair a cold-weather piece with a warm-weather piece and you are good to go. Some of my favorite combinations are a wool turtleneck with a miniskirt, a pair of shorts with a long-sleeved cardigan, a black leather jacket with a floral dress, or an oxford-style button down shirt and cashmere sweater with a short denim skirt.

It works for a few reasons, most importantly because it allows you to mix pieces you already own from other seasons with the few fall items (like lightweight sweaters) you'll actually buy, so your wardrobe stretches much farther. It also creates a contrast, which is widely accepted to be a fashion DO.

What are you fall must-haves? Have you started shopping for fall clothes or still living in your favorite maxi dress?

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