Designers from Louis Vuitton to Juicy Couture churn out covetable carryalls each season, but fashion now is about being creative...

Share story

The bag

Designers from Louis Vuitton to Juicy Couture churn out covetable carryalls each season, but fashion now is about being creative, not toting the same purse as every Sienna, Sofia and Kirsten on the block. And so it happens that the “it” bag is singing its swan song.

“There’s a bunch of ‘it’ bags now,” said Amanda Freeman, vice president of the Intelligence Group, a market research company. Expect to see a mix of crafty clutches, prim top-handles and big, slouchy totes at many price points this fall.

One classic that manages to look perennially current: the Chanel-inspired chain-strap purse. Hobo International’s version combines posh pleated leather with cool chains for a look that’s a little bit lady, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.

The shoe

Platforms have been walking tall for some time, but the 1940s favorite remains big for fall — you’ll see extra height on pumps and boots. No, they’re not as comfortable as the ballet flats that have dominated fashion recently, but at least the platform provides a little extra cushioning (emphasis on “little”).

This season, look in particular for styles with dressy details, such as Nine West’s patent leather “Yarrow,” which sports a comparatively stumpy 4-inch heel. (Several designers fashioned 6- and 7-inch versions, but steer clear: Even professional catwalkers have taken tumbles in them.)

The dress

According to industry watchers, this is the year of the dress, for at least one very practical reason. “Dresses are easy,” Freeman said. “They go great with the legging trend [and] there’s less of this need to match things.”

Apron and sweater dress styles promise to be big this season. A more trend-proof option: a Borne silk frock, which walks the line between casual and dressy. It looks as good over leggings or skinny jeans as it does on its own with a pair of heels.

Architecturally inspired color-blocking livens up the neutral palette, and the empire waist flatters many figures. The finishing touch? Gently flared sleeves, which pick up on fall’s kimono dressing fad without overdoing it.

The belt

After years of taking a backseat to baggy boho tops and the hip-slung belts that love them, the waist has returned as a fashion focal point. It began at Yves Saint Laurent, where in just a few seasons designer Stefano Pilati has made the pilgrim-buckled belt a mainstay of his runway.

Colorwise, black is perpetually “back,” but if you’re looking for a fresh take, seek out something bright instead — or a Hot Topic belt that reverses from basic black to cheeky polka dots.

The jacket

The tweedy blazer has been a fall classic since Katharine Hepburn’s heyday; this year’s version gets an update with stylishly gathered sleeves and a not-too-padded shoulder. (Tartan checked jackets are big news in the fashion world, too.)

Pair yours with anything that balances out its smallish scale — wide-legged pants, say, or an A-line or trumpet skirt. Experiment with the layering trend by trying a longer top (or two) underneath.

The top

Fashion is having a minimalist moment, to be sure, but for those who don’t want their look to get too plain-Jane, a dressy, decorative top is the answer.

Seek out pretty details such as pleating or bows — or both, as Julie Haus’ “Sunburst” version offers. The pleats, rendered in featherweight silk, add a crisp, refined element.

Wear it under a blazer in a dark, contrasting shade such as burgundy; groovier types could try it over a long-sleeve tee in deep blue. Major jewelry around the neck is a definite don’t: Try a small pendant, or play it safe with a bare neck and dangly earrings instead.