A SHOPPER'S TAKE ON THE ITEMS
Local accountant Celestrial Haymon, 32, gives a thumbs-up to most of the nine trendy looks from Belk.
"I love the new look in sweaters," she said. "And a dress and feminine blouses are a must, but I'm not a fan of ponchos or capes. There's no sleeves, and it makes me feel boxed in. I know they're stylish, but to me they're not functional.
"I'm not really a fan of fur, either. Maybe if I'm going out on the town, I'll wear something with fur on it, but definitely not every day.
"I am a shoe person, so I love the new take on boots. Boots can easily dress up or dress down an outfit. I love Jessica Simpson-brand boots. And the wide-legged pants are great. They offer most body types a better and more flattering fit. They elongate your legs, especially with boots.
"The big-faced watch is my favorite accessory, especially with a little bling."
Updating last fall's wardrobe can be as simple as buying a few key pieces, fashion experts say.
"Look for something that makes a dramatic difference in your wardrobe," said Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk department stores.
The department store chain's style watchers have compiled a list of nine "most wanted" fall fashion trends for 2011. Most pieces are ideal for the transition between seasons, Goldstein said.
Though it's difficult to think about cold-weather fashions with temperatures in the 90s, Goldstein said she is already seeing women incorporating fall trends into their wardrobe.
"They're buying pieces that can take them into the next season, such as a lightweight poncho with slim pants," she said.
Women want fashions that work, Goldstein said. "We're breaking rules, and we want things more personal for our taste. We're talking about fashions that will take us from work to dinner. We don't like fashions that are relegated to a certain time of day."
Lorena Cavanaugh, Belk special-events coordinator, said trends for fall can be mixed well with old favorites. "I especially love the boots this year," she said.
Goldstein commented on the nine styles that made Belk's list as the Most-Wanted Fashion Picks for Fall.
"It's all about boots, boots, boots. I'm loving the wedge. It's very modern whether in a short boot or long boot. All the varied heights are popular, and look for interesting materials, especially the rustic leathers that look aged, and detailing. And Uggs are still in. I feel good about Uggs, especially for the weekend look. California girls wear them year-round with mini skirts." (Shown: Fergie taupe suede wedge-heel boot, $169).
2. PONCHOS & CAPES
"There's a reinvention of proportion and shape in this season's ponchos and capes," Goldstein said. "It can be a Boho look with an updated shape. One of the most influential messages of the season is strong lines and shape. A poncho/cape has classic charm. Calvin Klein's poncho, for example, has a dramatic linear shape with modern hardware. If you opted for a high-country trend with English roots, the look could be fringed and sportswear-friendly." (Shown: Jones New York navy/gray striped poncho, $109).
3. FASHION WATCH
"It has become a fashion item while at the same time functional. You'll see them in silver, gold and rose gold. Mixing rose gold with stainless is a popular look. And there's a fashionable watch for everybody. We borrowed a look from the boys with the oversized face but updated with feminine flair. I bought a watch recently for the first time in ages. I feel liberated. I no longer have to dig into my oversized bag for my cell phone to find out the time." (Shown: Fossil tortoiseshell band, $105).
4. FEMININE BLOUSE
"Look for the pussycat bow. It's a big bow that ties at the neck. It's an old look that's new again. The blouse takes on a new, elegant aesthetic that you can wear with jeans or a longer skirt. These unexpected mixes make fashions look modern. Also look for novelty sleeve treatments, ruffles and lace." (Shown: Sunny Leigh multicolor blouse with bow, $58).
5. NEW SHAPE DRESSES
"We're seeing dresses with smart cuts and silhouette changes. Some have sleeves with new shapes, giving the dress a dynamic, refined persona." (Shown: Lucky Brand multicolor print dress, $99).
6. BOXY TOPS
"Loose, knit tops with a '70s flavor are perfect for transitional weather and into fall and winter. The oversized cut, away from the body, is very important, offering a cool comfort." (Shown: Pure Sugar stone with silver studs, $68).
7. SOMETHING FUR
"You've got to have a piece of fur in your wardrobe. It's a completer piece. I find myself wearing my faux fur vest in 88-degree weather. You'll see a lot of fur detail in the fall. You want to consider wearing a fur vest with a cocktail dress. The fun is in the mix." (Shown: Free People faux fur-lined vest, $168).
8. UPDATED TROUSERS
"There hasn't been a lot to say about trousers in the last few seasons, so the customer is embracing the wider leg. And there's lots of options. We're seeing the '70s flare jeans, but nothing will take away the wonderful look of skinny pants." (Shown: Jessica Simpson black flare-leg trousers, $69).
9. NOVELTY CARDIGANS
"We're seeing cardigans that have been updated with bold beading and painted patterns, prints and textures. The handcrafted details I love -- short sleeves, fresh color, textures, exaggerated knits." (Shown: Free People cinnamon cardigan, $148).
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...