The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. Fall is definitely here. Making the transition from summer fun to fall fashion isn't hard if you have the right pieces.
Dressing in light layers offers warmth in the morning, and it's easy to remove layers throughout the day, says Heather Beckley, former design student and avid home seamstress. "Layering a couple tees over each other is really trendy and fun right now."
Leslie Gonzales, personal shopper and owner of Missussmartypants.com, stresses that the bottom layer needs to be snugger and longer than the others. "It keeps the fabric from bunching up and making you look lumpy."
She recommends making summer dresses fall-friendly by covering up with a cardigan, suit jacket or wrap-style top. She favors short-sleeved, shawl-collared cardigans. "Wear them open and put a belt over the top."
Pencil skirts are appropriate for most situations, and both Beckley and Gonzales say they're hot this fall. "They're almost universally flattering," says Gonzales.
To get the longest, leanest silhouette you can, Beckley says, "wear matching, opaque hose." Continuing the color from hip to toe makes legs look a mile long, she adds.
Pants are another great option for fall. You can even continue wearing your summer capris, says Gonzales, as long as they're a solid, dark color.
"Length is very important," she says. The best length for most women is just below the knee. Tall women can go an inch longer. "Avoid anything that hits at mid-calf," says Gonzalez.
Go from summer casual to fall sophisticate by adding heeled boots. They should be long enough that there's no gap between the top of the boot and the pant hem.
If you favor jeans, Gonzales recommends looking for a "mid-rise, straight-leg, dark-wash jean. These flatter everyone and won't look dated in a few seasons." Buy them a bit snug, she says, because denim stretches when worn.
Cynthia Adams, a Portland-area costume designer and seamstress, has one caution: "A 'muffin top' can easily make you look 20 to 30 pounds heavier," she says. If a spare tire appears at the top of your jeans, look for a larger size or, even better, a higher waist.
Color and texture are important for fall, says Beckley, noting that wool and corduroy are "time-honored favorites."
For Gonzales, rich jewel colors are appropriate for both fall and winter. She says that linen, traditionally a summer fabric, can be worn in the fall "if it's dark-colored."
Beckley and Gonzalez agree that leather is hot this season.
"Look for classic pieces trimmed in trendy fabrics like faux leather," recommends Beckley. "You'll look current without being a slave to fashion." Or, keep your clothes basic and update your look each season with a few über-trendy accessories.
Fit is essential, says Adams, who has a clothing and textile degree from Oregon State University. "Blouses with bust darts are getting hard to find," she says, "but they're worth it. Darts keep button-down shirts from pulling and gaping at the front."
For pants and skirts, look for fabrics with a bit of stretch for the best fit. And fitted jackets are most flattering when they end at the natural waist.
"Have clothes altered to fit," stresses Gonzalez. "It makes a huge difference."
And, of course, fall is the perfect time to buy a great, new jacket. Both Gonzales and Beckley like peacoats in fun colors. Beckley recommends trying on several to see what's important to you. One thing she looks for?
"You can never have too many pockets," she says with a laugh.