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Brave the chill with fall fashion must-haves

Fall is almost here and there are a dozen trends that may seem strange or hard to wear, like the ’80s-inspired shoulder pads or leather leggings. TODAY style contributor Stacy London explains which fads are wearable and which are best left in the past
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Fall is almost here and there are a dozen trends that may seem strange or hard to wear, like the ’80s-inspired shoulder pads and leather leggings. TODAY style contributor Stacy London explains which fads are wearable and which are best left in the past.

Velvet jackets and animals prints
We saw a lot of velvet on the runways this season, some of it in burnout dresses, which can look complicated and not particularly user-friendly (i.e., hard to wear for every day!). There are, however, some beautiful velvet jackets in rich colors that can look great and are supereasy to wear from work to evening without looking stuffy and prim. Look for one with a strong shoulder that nips in at the waist and hits the top of the hip to get a bit of the ’40s look that was also a big runway hit. Pair that with an ivory ruffle blouse (ruffles are a huge trend) that is work and evening appropriate. Be careful with any ruffle that overwhelms your frame. If your chest is bigger, keep the ruffles flat, not too three-dimensional, and to a minimum. Add a thin cashmere crewneck to this jacket and it's great with jeans and boots on the weekend!

It's been interesting the way animal prints appear to almost have been silk-screened onto fabrics this season, like on silk and on top of a tweed. This makes it an easier proposition for a day to evening look. A lot of women get intimidated by animal print, but in neutral colors, it is easier to wear and adds interest to an outfit — regardless of age! And the shape of a pencil skirt is a good, universally flattering one. It adds to the ease with which you can wear this type of print on your lower half. The shape is straight, without being too narrow, allowing women with or without hips to wear it well. Pair it with a black silk top and slinky black heels — the perfect combo for a dinner party!

Blazer: Theory at Loehmann's, $100, velvet blazer chocolate, available at select Loehmann's Stores or call 212.352-0856
Blouse: Madison & Michelle at Lord & Taylor, $82, ivory ruffle front blouse available at Lord & Taylor department stores
Skirt: Tahari at Lord & Taylor, $98 leopard pencil skirt available at Lord & Taylor department stores
Shoes: Pelle Moda at, $112.50, Jamison in cognac polished calf available at
www.Zappos.comEarrings: Rachel Leigh, $88, Crystal Drop Earring, available at
Necklace: Rachel Leigh, $44, Capsule Pendant, available at
Scarf: Echo, $48, Guadalajara Floral Scarf black/neutral, available at Lord & Taylor 1.800.348.6940
Handbag: Banana Republic, $350, structured leather tote, available at Banana Republic stores nationwide
Bracelet: Rachel Leigh, $132, Crystal Snake Chain Bracelet, available at

Long cardigans and plaid
Cardigans are everywhere this season and you will see them oversized, belted, unbelted, long, short — you name it! I love them for weekends because they are supercomfy and can be added to almost any outfit when there is a chill in the air. But you want your cardigans to be user-friendly. Look for ones whose length and width don't overwhelm your frame! Stay around hip length for the most user-friendly style, especially if you are under 5'4"! Stick with a lighter-weight cardigan in the office, as they tend to look more sleek and appropriate. Leave the thicker ones for weekend wear. Remember, the thicker the knit, the less body-conscious your cardigan will look. So if you are on the curvier side, stay away from anything with thickness! That just adds shapeless bulk to your frame!

As for plaid shirts, I like the more feminine cuts, like ones that look like blouses, or with a ruffle so they can do double-duty in your life. With a bit more shape and detail, a blouse works under a suit for weekday wear and just as well under a yummy cardigan and jeans for weekend wear. I love the hunter plaid for weekends, but you will see plaid in every conceivable color combination out there. Choose one that is flattering to your skin tone but don't be afraid to go bright. Plaid is the perfect punch to any outfit this season. Especially your favorite pair of jeans!

Cardigan: Banana Republic cardigan charcoal gray, $89, available at Banana Republic stores nationwide
Top: Kensie at Macy's, plaid ruffle front blouse, $68, available at select Macy's department stores Jeans: GAP new denim bootcut indigo jean, $59.50, available at GAP stores nationwide
Shoes: Zara lug sole booties, $109, available at select Zara stores
Earrings: RJ Graziano, $44.95, turquoise drops, for availability call 212.685.1248
Bracelet: Banana Republic silver chain link, $49.50, available at Banana Republic stores nationwide
Handbag: Nine West Stud Hobo in black, $99, available at select Nine West stores

Faux-fur vests and studded platform heels
There was a lot of fur and faux fur on the runway for fall. One of the best ways I've found to wear this is in in a vest, or "gilet." They have a lot more versatility than you might think! Instead of wearing something superfluffy and wide a la the runway looks, keep these vests well-fitted to the body without a lot of volume for the most figure-flattering effect. There is a rocker influence in lots of the collections this season, some of it all-leather and hard and some of it softer and more ’70s-inspired: Think Marianne Faithfull and Jane Birkin. For weekend, try mixing the tufted texture of a faux-fur vest with something feminine and soft, like a sheer floral blouse and a wider-leg jean, to create an outfit that is cool but casual.

Modernize this whole look with one of the biggest trends this season: studded shoes or boots. Have fun with these! Yes, they work for day as well as night! You will see these shoes work with casual outfits, but they will just as easily work with a cocktail dress as well. These shoes give what could be too retro an outfit a little bit of a modern edge. Alternatively, try that vest with a turtleneck and slouchy plaid trouser when it starts to get really cold, for a great apres-ski look, even in the city! Or the vest and blouse with a pencil skirt and boots for another great fall look.

Vest: Gianni Bini at Dillards, $108, Beatrice in coyote brown, available at
Top: Zara, $79.90, floral sheer blouse
Jeans: Express, $59.50, stella fit + flare denim available at Express stores nationwide
Shoes: Zara, $109, gray studded platforms, available at select Zara stores
Earrings: RJ Graziano, $85, leather & gold circles, for availability call 212.685.1248
Necklace: Gerard Yosca, $255, Style # N8017, available by calling 212.302.4349 for a store nearest you
Bracelet: Ben Amun by Isaac Manevitz resin rope bangle STYLE: MAG 202, $85, Made to Order 212.944.6480
Bracelet: RJ Graziano, $125, gold bangle with stones, for availability call 212.685.1248
Bracelet: RJ Graziano, $145, fish bangle, for availability call 212.685.1248
Ring: NOIR, $75, star ring, available by calling 212.244.4846 or

Ring: Rachel Leigh, $68, Gumball Ring espresso, available at
Handbag: The Sak, $139, Silverlake Convertible Crossbody plum, available at and Macy's

Architectural little black dress and waist belts
There was a lot of black for fall, which isn't surprising considering the economy at the moment. Black is quite "recession proof.” And while there was lots of heavy and hard black leather, there were also tons of little black dresses that can live a long, user-friendly life in your closet. The new feature of the LBD this season is the way it is constructed: more draping, folding, almost origamilike. The trick to finding the right one for you is to find one that is trendy and still figure flattering. Some of the drapier dresses can look wide and shapeless. Go for one with a defined waist — even add a belt for extra emphasis, and keep the folds toward the neckline.

Keep your dress fresh by trying all sorts of different accessories for different evening looks: Add shine with an embellished heel and mini crystal clutch for a sophisticated look. Or go for a harder edge and add a studded shoe or ankle boot and a leather envelope clutch. For an even trendier look, throw on a leather motorcycle jacket!

Dress: Adrianna Papell at Dillards, $128, asymmetrical drape neck dress, black, available at Shoes: Gabriella Rocha at Annalee in Silver, $85, available at
Clutch: Adia Kibur Accessories at Supplements, $80, black studded box clutch, available by calling 212.290.0091
Earrings: RJ Graziano, $65, black jet studs, call 212.685.1248
Brooch: Roxanne Assoulin for Lee Angel, $245, CZ Cluster pin Style CZP200BK, available at

Bracelet: Juko at Supplements, $75, black chain link, available by calling 212.290.0091

Fall shoe trends

Fold-over boots:
They will look great with narrow pants or jeans and can help balance a heavier thigh as they are wider through the calf. Aldo Babinski black suede, $140, available at

Embellished flats: You'll find them with studs, jewels, chains and sequins this season. They can add an extra bit of oomph to any outfit, like a plain black dress or a suit. Rorrer studded ballet black, $39.99, available at

Cut-out boots: You may find these are a bit harder to wear once it gets really cold outside. Rather than wear them with traditional tights, which will make your toes look weird, try footless or stirrup tights and some of the awesome new nail colors like dark green and purple. Blowfish at DSW, $59.95, Miami in gray suede available at select DSW stores

Over-the-knee boots: Stay away from these if you are under 5'6" unless you are all legs. These can be tricky to wear as they will shorten your leg line. But for the taller girl, they will look great with skinny jeans, leggings or tights and a micro-minidress. Just keep the top half of your outfit well-tailored and cut closer to the body, unless you want to look like a pirate! Steve Madden at Nordstrom, $99.95, Blondee black suede available at