Shoulder bags for fall

Photos: Gentl & Hyers

Get Ready for Fall in a Flash
This season, all you need are a few key pieces to instantly energize your wardrobe—and we found them, at prices ranging from steals to splurges (bet you can't tell which is which).

The Bold Shoulder Bag

The style of the season is an old favorite with a hands-free advantage

The Deal (left)
Because it converts to a clutch, this bag is even more of a deal. Peacock blue is a big fall color—seek it out to update your closet. Nine West, $39

The Middle Ground (top)
Sling on this sunny bag in supple canary leather. On the reverse side is an ingenious exterior purse, perfect for keeping phone or keys readily accessible. Coach, $398

The High End (right)
Oversize studs and bold topstitching punch up the geometric lines of this well-tailored purse. The brighter-than-navy blue is neutral enough to be useful but far from bland. Fendi, $1,620

The new little black dress

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The Sculpted Black Dress
No more baby-dolls or boring shifts: The new Little Black Dress is big on shape and detail.

The Deal (middle)
For arm-sensitive women, this long-sleeved sheath is a find; for those in search of a narrower-looking waist, the belted folds in front do the trick. To dress it up, try fishnets. Calvin Klein, $128

The Middle Ground (right)
So chic you'd swear this dress came off a Paris runway. Waist-defining, hip-slimming elements—diagonal ruching on top, plus vertical pleating and a belt—flatter womanly bodies and invent curves for more boyish types. Byron Lars Beauty Mark, $295

The High End (left)
Call it lipo-in-a-dress—tapered starburst inserts at the waist take off 10 pounds instantly. With a cardigan, it's work-smart; without, an evening knockout (just add red lipstick). Searle, $598

The new fall necklaces

Photos: Gentl & Hyers  

The "Wow" Necklace
It takes just one of these to dramatically transform the basics already in your closet.

The Deal (right)
A triumvirate of ceramic flowers in sugar-cookie colors makes for an elegant breastplate that lets you advance fearlessly into a party. Shelly Saber for GS Lillian, $95

The Middle Ground (left)
A medallion embroidered with antique ruby and diamond look-alikes hangs from four jeweled strands and ties on with silk ribbon. Imagine it gleaming at the throat of a (partly unbuttoned) white shirt. Elie Tahari, $398

The High End (top)
This bib necklace is a really big show. A triple row of smoky Swarovski-crystal pearls explodes into a cluster of exuberant satin roses and grapes. Very effective with a fitted black turtleneck. Beavaldes, $670

Photos: Gentl & Hyers  

The Chunky-Knit Jacket
So rich and thick, you may not need a coat until winter.

The Deal (right)
Comfy as a bathrobe (but more elegant), a black honeycomb-stitch version of the classic kimono solves your black-tie problems and wraps things up for day. Victor by Victor Alfaro, $130

The Middle Ground (middle)
Thick but distinctly civilized, this nubby gray double-seed-stitch is not your rough-and-tumble fisherman's sweater. Longer hem, higher collar, and handy pockets make it a natural for indoor/outdoor use. Walter, $268

The High End (left)
A knit-stitch cardigan in heathered purple merino wool is no slouch at shape—its diagonal contours define the body as beautifully as a structured blazer, while the generous collar defends your neck. Lutz & Patmos, $595

Sexy pumps for fall

Photos: Gentl & Hyers

The Sexy Pump
For legs that seem longer and leaner than they actually are, step up to these heels.

The Deal (top)
Ombré effects (where one shade segues into another, and darker tones anchor bolder ones) make bright colors more wearable. This shiny pump starts out with a blood-red toe and deepens to black at the heel. Colin Stuart for Victoria's Secret Catalogue, $70

The Middle Ground (left)
Subtly shaded, pointy-toed red-to-Bordeaux patent leather does wonders for a neutral suit. Besides, you need heels this high to get the new wide-legged pants off the ground. Charles David, $215

The High End (bottom right)
There's a molten look to these bewitching, sparkly, Dorothy-in-Oz round-toed heels—add the designer's trademark scarlet sole, and this is one hot pair. Christian Louboutin, $595

Bold fall coats

Photos: Gentl & Hyers

The Coat That Makes an Entrance
Bold, extroverted cold-fighters have the impact of accessories.

The Deal (left)
Why be confined to basic, no-frills toppers? Silvery textured tweed is the ideal foil for a simple black underlayer. Among the fine points: balloon sleeves, a generous fit, and a fashionable one-button closure. Spiegel, $119

The Middle Ground (right)
A coat in a soft gray that's kind to most skin tones is equipped with a wind-beating double collar, seams that accentuate the vertical, and a wide "corset" belt (whittles like nobody's business). Mackage, $693

The High End (middle)
Patent leather diamonds and pyramid-stud snaps give this coat edgy allure. The shape is a trapeze with narrow, well-tailored shoulders and space for hips below the raised waist. Marc by Marc Jacobs, $1,200