Fall fashion: How to build a stylish wardrobe

By: Lia Parsley

Author: Canadian Living


Fall fashion: How to build a stylish wardrobe

By: Lia Parsley
Professional style experts are not slaves to trends; they just know how to shop smartly each season to get maximum mileage out of their wardrobes.

Many of them abide by this one little secret: Small wardrobe tweaks each season can add up to big style impact. We chatted with Vancouver-based stylist Claudia Da Ponte to get the scoop on how to successfully style your wardrobe.

1. Updating your closet on a budget
If you don't have a lot of money to spend on new fall clothes, consider updates by way of fashion accessories, which tend to be more affordable purchases.

"Belts are great for wearing with your wide-leg pants or over top of your coats to create shape," says Da Ponte. "Or add a skinny belt over a buttoned-up cardigan to cinch in your waist."

Da Ponte also suggests having fun with statement jewelry layered over your basics: "Pair bright or neon accessories with neutrals and try a bold sparkly necklace with a basic T-shirt."

With a small amount of money spent on fresh accessories, your outfits from last season can be fully revamped. Rather than buying in to new trends, Da Ponte suggests digging around your closet for older pieces that have come back in fashion.

Think texture for fall: "Pair a vintage velvet jacket with a feminine blouse and dark jeans," says Da Ponte. By incorporating clothes that you haven't worn in years, you can get a completely new look for no money at all. Like they always say in fashion, what goes around comes around.

Another great way to acquire new pieces on a budget is to host a clothing swap with your friends or coworkers. Organize a weekend afternoon where your friends can mix and match each other's unwanted fashion finds. It's a great cost-saving strategy and it's eco-conscious, too.

2. Fall trends worth investing in
If you don't already have some fun textures to play with in your closet, definitely invest in some lace basics, like a black lace dress. Lace is always coming in and out of style, and is a feminine way to make an otherwise drab outfit more fun.

"Layer a lace cardigan with something unexpected like a floral pattern dress," suggests Da Ponte. "Or try a lace dress paired with polka dot tights for a bit of dimension."

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover why investing in a tailored blazer is a smart, stylish choice, and find other fashion trends to forgo on page 2

If you're wondering what silhouette you should be wearing this fall, Da Ponte says that 1970s-inspired styles are still hot. "Wide-leg pants are here to stay for 2012," says Da Ponte.

Consider purchasing a great pair of flared jeans or wide-leg slacks to tuck some of your favourite blouses into. Top the look off with a sophisticated skinny leather belt and you're set.

A great, sharply tailored blazer is always a worthy investment. Menswear-inspired cuts in a bold colour like red will earn you major style points. Or trade in your basic black blazer for one in an unexpected plush texture like velvet or one with leather-trimmed lapels.

3. Fall trends you can pass on
You don't need to buy in to every trend to make your closet feel current. Da Ponte says that this fall, geometric prints, balloon sleeves and "mullet" shirts – where the front is shorter than the back of the shirt – will be popular.

Same thing goes for boxy T-shirts, long sheer skirts and novelty fur accessories. Da Ponte recommends spending our money elsewhere – not on these fleeting trends. "These aren't classic pieces and won't necessarily translate into next season," she says. "And these trends generally don't suit everyone."

If you shop like the experts do, you'll feel more confident in what your closet has to offer. Focus your new purchases on accessories, and resurrect old favourites to renew your wardrobe. Remember, being fashionable has nothing to do with the amount of money you spend – it has everything to do with how you creatively pull your clothes together.

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Fall fashion: How to build a stylish wardrobe