NEW YORK, N.Y. - Got calendar confusion? The date says it's officially summer, but vacations are over and kids are headed back to school. And, yes, that is Halloween candy at the store. The fashion world can set you straight: It's the fall shopping season.
And it's a good one, says Nina Garcia, fashion director at Marie Claire and "Project Runway" judge.
"This is not a season that you have to spend a lot of money to get into the trends," she says. "It's a very conservative and classic season; everything is ladylike or minimal. It's a good season to buy and keep, not a season to buy and toss next season."
Garcia, author of the new book "Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion," also says there's no reason to wait to wear many of the top fall styles until it's chilly. The ladylike pumps on her shopping list, for example, pair just as well with a sleeveless sheath as they do with wool trousers.
The Associated Press asked Garcia and three other insiders for the must-haves on their personal shopping lists:
No. 1 on her list is the camel-coloured coat that she says defines the season. "Almost every single designer showed one," she says. "If you don't have one, it's the year to get one. It's like a pea coat; you can keep it forever."
An added bonus, she adds, is that the luxe hue is flattering to a full range of complexions.
There's another coat Garcia says she covets, specifically a Burberry shearling. "I will have one of those," she declares, allowing, though, that one will have to wait for cooler weather.
Garcia also will invest in a hand-held, framed purse — gone are the super-slouchy hobos — that will complement those stiletto pumps. "We've had saturation with the big, platform, angry shoes."
A leopard-print bag, belt or scarf is something she'll buy, and she suggests others do, too, because of their versatility and ability to instantly elevate an outfit to a more fashion-forward level.
—Mary Alice Stephenson, stylist and commentator
Stephenson already has worn her new Lanvin leopard dress, but you can do animal-print without paying runway prices. Talbots, she says, has a leopard coat worn by Linda Evangelista in its new ad campaign.
A good shopper, she adds, knows how to find great things at high prices and lower ones.
Tila March is a handbag line with some tote-style handbags that Stephenson has her eye on. But it's the Celine Shopper, in python, that she really wants. "It's a lady bag with an edge — the perfect carryall."
Her other accessory statement will be a chunky necklace and big earrings, picking up the trend where the Emmys red carpet left off. She'd pick Ranjana Khan's Industrial Deco pieces because they "add drama and a large dose of glamour to update all the classics I already have in my closet."
—Liz Rodbell, executive vice-president of merchandising for Lord & Taylor
Rodbell hones in on two "major fashion trends": the aforementioned sophisticated-lady glamour but also urban utility.
Retro-style fur coats and fit-and-flare dresses cover the refined look, as does the hand-held satchel, Rodbell says. For the more utilitarian items, think anoraks, cargo pants and lace-up boots, she says.
—Kelly Golden, owner of upscale Chicago-area boutique Neapolitan
With no hesitation, Golden says she wants Christian Dior's ripped-from-the-runway, thigh-high leather riding boots in espresso brown. The idea of thigh-high boots can sound intimidating, she allows, but they can be worn with either dresses with opaque tights or skinny-leg pants, both things she and her customers are still loving.
Maybe she'd try them with the Derek Lam stretch wool-leather riding pant that's also on her shopping list. They play into both the equestrian vibe and the motorcycle influence that dotted the catwalks.
For the fur that served as a fall cornerpiece for many designers, Golden says its the Miu Miu coyote-and-Mongolian-Lamb vest that she wants for herself.