Must-haves

By Chandra Orr

July 8, 2011 6 min read

Looking to tap into the season's hottest trends on a limited budget? Nab a few killer coordinates and splurge on fall's must-have accessories for a look that's very in vogue.

"Many trends have longevity; you just have to pick the right ones," says fashion stylist Marissa Rizzuto, who specializes in designer looks for less. "Splurging on accessories is smarter than splurging on clothing. You can always fit into your accessories, but clothing is another story. Plus, you'll always get more use out of your accessories."

If you can afford only a few key pieces this fall, get the biggest bang for your buck with the season's must-have handbag and the perfect pumps. Pair these of-the-moment accessories with trend-driven yet classic clothing that will look great even as the styles change.

"When it comes to spending, spend on quality pieces that are essential for the season," says personal shopper and fashion stylist Lauren Franks. "Pick versatile pieces you can style in different ways to make sure you get the best bang out of your buck."

If you are only shopping for a few items, "marry these new fall trends into your current wardrobe for an affordable wardrobe refresher," Franks says. "If you choose carefully, you can stretch your wallet to hit both great accessories and clothing."

Even for frugal fashionistas, these trends are worth the splurge:

*Satchel Handbags

The "it" purse for fall 2010 is back and bigger than ever. The satchel handbag, often called the lady bag, is still the must-have tote -- and for good reason. Featuring top handles, a removable shoulder or cross-body strap and plenty of cargo room, this handbag is ultra-versatile.

"Make sure you have a preppy, cool leather bag in your collection for this fall," Franks says. "The across-the-chest shoulder strap is not only functional but also completely fashionable. Pack a satchel full for work, and then convert to carrying the top handle for a different look at night."

You'd get more use from a satchel with clean lines and classic details in a basic black, brown or white, but a trendier tote bag might be just the thing to infuse a basic wardrobe with the season's hottest hues and textures. The top styles for fall feature quilted accents, python skin and biker hardware in brilliant reddish orange, forest green and royal purple.

*Platform Heels

Forget the sexy stiletto. Platform heels are back in vogue. From strappy satin wedges and reptile-skin pumps to rocker boots with biker-chic buckles and knee-highs with fierce yet feminine lacing, fall's best footwear features a super-high chunky heel.

"Thank goodness for that platform heel," Franks says. "This fall, grab a pair of closed-toe platform pumps. Think oxford, penny loafer or Mary Jane, and add a 4-inch platform. It makes walking 4 inches above the ground just a tad bit easier when you have a platform area versus the tiny area of a killer stiletto."

Nail the trend by pairing chunky patent-leather platforms with thick tights or scrunched socks in contrasting colors -- or both -- to mimic the looks worn on the designer runways.

*Perfect Pants

If you can afford only one great pair of pants for fall, look for perfectly tailored trousers or wide-leg jeans.

"Fall fashion definitely has a masculine influence. Incorporate this into your wardrobe by investing in a pair of tailored trousers -- and don't hem your pants too short," Franks says. "This season is all about lengthy trousers. Make sure they skim the ground, even though it makes for a complicated cleaning process."

Wide-leg jeans in darker denim are also on trend for fall; think 1970s-inspired silhouettes, not bell-bottoms or boot-cut jeans. Pair them with a loose-fitting cotton T-shirt and platform penny loafers for a casual, effortless weekend look, Franks says.

*Sparkling Sequins

Sequins make quite a showing for fall. It's a bold look but one that's versatile and bound to go the distance.

"Definitely invest in a sequin dress, jacket or top," Rizzuto says. "The great thing with sequin is that it can be worn dressed up or down. You can wear it in the summer, as well. You will get a lot of use out of it. Sequin is always in fashion."

Sequins may sound over-the-top, but the trend is more modern-vintage than prom-gone-wrong. To get the most longevity from your purchase, look for antique-inspired sparkle in short classically fitted skirts and cute cropped tuxedo jackets.

"A cropped tuxedo jacket is perfect to pair with your wide-leg jeans for a casual look or your tailored trouser for the workday. Every fashion house has one out this season," Franks says.

*Bold Coats

"Coats are always a good investment. They keep you warm and can be worn season after season," Rizzuto says. "This season, bright coats in red, orange and blue are super-trendy."

Fall's coolest coats pair classic styling with electric hues. Think traditional peacoats in rich coral or lemony chartreuse, biker-cut cover-ups in electric periwinkle and deep green, and sleek knee-length numbers in plum purple and tomato red. Shoppers also will see plenty of feminine details, such as oversize princess collars and romantic ruffles.

"My advice is to stick with a less bright color. This way, next winter you can still wear it," Rizzuto says. "Go with white, dark blue or dark green, and then bring in bright colors with accessories, such as scarves, hats, bags, shoes and gloves. This way, you're still on trend and not out a ton of money."

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