Tip #1: Look for a leather skirt with a prim silhouette.
Though the pencil skirt silhouette is often relegated to the prim-and-proper portion of the style spectrum, this shape has the potential to look rock'n'roll when fashioned from an unexpected material--specifically leather. Case in point: Agyness Deyn, who wore a body-con knee-length skirt to the New York premiere of Inglorious Basterds in August. While we've seen mini skirts, evening shorts, and tapered trousers made out of this tough-meets-lux fabric before (not to mention little fitted leather coats and motorcycle jackets that continue to be prevalent) we think this incarnation is where it's at for fall. Be sure to incorporate French Connection's Leather High Waisted Pencil Skirt ($322) into your cool weather wardrobe; though Deyn paired her edgy piece with a Rocky Horror Picture Show T-Shirt ($20), Mechante of London Elektra Rose Python Heels ($780, 212.431.3890), and Lulu Guinness' Red Lips Clutch ($317), we think this future classic will seamlessly fit into any autumnal ensemble!
Tip #2: Try a bucket bag with all your fall favorites.
Vogue-contributing editor Lauren Santo Domingo may be a couture connoisseur, but she proved she also knows a thing or two about picking the crème of the retro crop, as well. While attending a Calvin Klein Collection celebration, the society swan wore an impeccable Chanel bucket bag straight from the '80s (by way of Los Angeles boutique and vintage Mecca, Decades). The always-stylish Santo Domingo (who paired her Chanel carryall with the Black Felted Wool Crewneck Dress ($6995, 212.292.900) from Calvin Klein Collection) shows us that a bucket bag is a great way to subtly reference fashion's current eighties obsession, without boldly going into power shoulder or acid-washed denim territory. Whether you decide to trawl your (or your mother's) closet in search of a drawstring satchel in supple leather or suede, or opt for Deux Lux's Bucket Bag ($68), the slouchy shape is the perfect way to transport your daytime--and evening--essentials!
Tip #3: Swap your summer cami for a dolman tank instead.
While attending a party celebrating Nylon magazine, Emma Roberts looked adorable and sophisticated in a body-skimming black mini (by LaRok) and sexy sky-high gladiator sandals (in this case, designed by Barbara Bui). However, our favorite aspect of her outfit is her 3.1 Phillip Lim Gathered Shoulder Tee ($125). We've had a serious preoccupation with all variations of arm detail: strong shoulders, puffy sleeves, and ruffled shoulders all make the grade, yet we still can't get enough! This Dolman-esque sleeve detail is a refreshing way to add a little interest to your favorite black bandage skirt; try LnA's Muscle Tee ($63) with a second skin skirt, like Free People's Scrunchy Skirt ($48) and a texturized cincher like Forever 21's Patent Chain Belt ($10) to get Robert's lovely look in no time at all!
Tip #4: Pick up a lingerie-inspired dress for fall.
Though beautifully draped boudoir-referencing dresses were spotted on Balenciaga's F/W 09 runway (always a good indicator of what will dominate for the upcoming season), we love Byrdie Bell's not-so-literal interpretation of lingerie-inspired looks. For the premiere of Ang Lee's new film Taking Woodstock, this New York doll wore a feminine lace-trimmed and belted robe from the forties, which she purchased at the Chelsea Flea Market. Be sure to check out your favorite vintage boutique for delightfully delicate frock or pick up Splendid's Eyelet Dress ($155) for a soft and flowing contemporary alternative to help you achieve that come-hither effect.
Tip #5: Mix a girly lace top with more casual basic pieces.
While we've never met a lace garment we didn't like, this fancy fabric is taking shape in a variety of refreshing and of-the-moment ways for fall. On a recent night out with friends in New York City's Meatpacking District, Misshapes DJ and nightlife fixture Leigh Lezark wore a casual and chic lace top. This material continues to make a fashionable splash, and peek-a-boo piece is the ideal match for your array of fall bottoms (think: high-waisted pants and formal shorts!) This piece is also a smart layering component; there's no better undergarment to add some edge (and a little coverage!) to your favorite crop top or draped dress. Seen here in American Apparel's Floral Lace Body Suit ($34), the downtown denizen paired her body-conscious suit with dark denim cuffed shorts and a classic black belt. For a similar look, try Topshop's Turn Up Hotpant ($55) for a spot-on alternative to Lezark's warm weather-appropriate assemblage.
Tip #6: Style preppy striped tops with chunky chokers.
Up-and-coming actress Tarajia Morrell proved that you can rock more than one fall trend without looking like a fashion victim, if styled correctly. While attending the I Heart Ronson for JC Penney collection late last month, the brunette stunner wore a sailor-stripe shirt with a must-have chunky choker. Lately, we've seen high-end and casual interpretations of the classic Breton stripe on some of our favorite runways (a strong shouldered rendition showed up in Balmain's F/W 09 collection tops our most-wanted list) and fashion plates (both Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo are fans). When worn solo, this top selection can look a bit too preppy or plain, so avoid this pitfall by styling it with this season's must-have accessory, the chunky choker! Try Topshop's Tall Button Back Stripe Tee ($32) and Fallon's Mixed Deadly Pearl Necklace ($176)--both are dead-ringers for Morrel's picks and would make a knockout pairing! Just make sure the rest of your ensemble is low-maintenance; a slightly baggy boyfriend short and cap-toe flat boots keep the eye focused on the simultaneously chic statement of the necklace and the top!--KM