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Pair a pencil skirt with a faux-fur sweater. / BANANA REPUBLIC


After bold — even brash — summer fashions, fall ushers in a return to the classics, with romantic stylings, rich colors and patterned textures. Mad Men’s ’50s cool has been replaced by Downton Abbey refinement.

“These are working clothes that are chic and versatile, practical and glamorous at the same time,” says Simon Kneen, Banana Republic creative director and executive vice president of design. “And you may already own them.”

To add spark to a wardrobe without blowing your budget, Kneen and other pros suggest buying a few strategic pieces and mining your closet for the rest. While you’re at it, consider burying items that will time-stamp you!


The mood has darkened, from pastels and brights to brooding black, eggplant, oxblood, Concord grape and 50 shades of gray. Royal purples and bottle greens reflect our ongoing fascination with Brits, from Kate and Pippa to James Bond.

As you turn to the dark side, go for a monochromatic look with head-to-toe palettes of burgundies and reds, navies and purples, grays and blacks.

Buy an eggplant stretch pencil skirt — to hit multiple trends at once.

Dig out anything inky blue or black.

Bury brights, neons, color-blocked garments and tropical prints.


Step aside, solids: This season is all about patterns and textures — plaids, brocades, wallpaper prints.

Buy a jacquard sheath dress.

Dig out paisleys and menswear-inspired tweeds, plaids and pinstripes. “But when you borrow from the boys, make sure clothes are not oversized as in the ’80s,” says Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s forecasting director and fashion group vice president.

Bury Missoni-inspired chevron, bright lace and loud floral. They all have overstayed their welcome.


We’ve bottomed out after seasons of bare legs. So cover up. “The cropped pant with a tapered leg and closed toe [shoe] is in,” Kneen says. “It’s feminine yet boyish.”

Buy slim capris (yes, even for cooler weather) or colored denim.

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Dig out lean skirts and slacks, dark corduroys, and cable-knit sweaters.

Bury flared trousers, last winter’s puffer coat, ’50s hourglass party dresses.


Leather has become season-less and easier than ever to wear. “Just don’t go with anything that’s rock ‘n’ roll or roughed up,” Kneen says. Stick with tailored, minimalist styles. “Everything should feel good to the touch,” he notes.

Buy a faux-leather little black dress or a cropped leather moto jacket.

Dig out suede shoes, bags, belts, and cashmere — luxe classics. “NEVER throw those away!” he says.

Bury lamé, sequins. “Too flashy,” Kneen says.


“This season is not for sloppy Joes,” Kneen says. Men will be sporting buttoned-up, tailored suits. Military-inspired details are everywhere; choose jackets and shirts in army greens adorned with shoulder epaulettes. Too fussy? “Why not throw in some country tweed or burgundy chinos?” Kneen says.

Buy a pocket square to add a pop of color to a patterned sports coat or a Fair Isle crew sweater to wear with dark denim jeans.

Dig out a suit vest or an heirloom tie pin.

Bury anything that's wrinkled or fits poorly.


A little garnish goes a long way, from playful cocktail rings to feather-adorned fedoras to dressy gloves.

Buy tasseled necklaces or earrings to glam up a simple sheath dress. “If you’re adventurous, add a faux-fur scarf,” Kneen says. “It adds luxury and warmth.”

Dig out that owl or peacock pin you inherited from Granny. It fits the animal trend seen on the runways, and is a great reminder: Even in tough times, fashion should be fun.

Bury clunky chain-link chokers and tortoise-shell anything.


With ladylike fashions center stage, a stacked-heel pointed-toe pump will get a lot of mileage. “Single-sole pumps are back big-time,” Fischelis says.

Buy a pointed cap-toe, for a modern twist on the Mary Jane, or velvet slippers for a Great Gatsby vibe.

Dig out equestrian boots.

Bury your peep-toe boots, if you heed Kneen. “We’ve seen enough open-toe shoes,” he says.


Scoop up timely fall fashions with these tips from J.C. Penney trend director Cyndie Washburn-Nester: give faux leather a try. Grab skinny jeans, a pencil skirt or a motorcycle jacket. “You won’t regret it!” she says.

Buy white pants. White is no longer just for summer. Black and white pairings are a top fall look.

Don’t wait on the perfect boot. Buy now, Washburn-Nester says. “Inevitably it will sell out quickly, and boots are a great investment that work year-round.”

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