By Trish McQuillen

As a style consultant, I seem to get most of my appointments prior to the Fall season. My guess is that as clients get ready for a season of layered styles and extra accessories, they’re less certain of what pieces are timeless and which pieces can be purged.

I do feel that each client has different needs depending on her lifestyle.  There are those who work full time while others may be raising a family at home.  Some need to have a closet filled with more conservative yet fashionable items – some want pieces that will take them from school meetings to soccer fields while still looking put together.What I like to share with all of them is no matter what their day-to-day calendar is filled with, my feeling is that effortlessly chic pieces seem to have a timeless quality.

But I didn’t want the “answer” to be based solely on my opinion. So I decided to reach out to a few friends in the fashion industry and ask them to add their viewsto the questions of what are their classic keepers and what new trends are excitingfor this fall/winter season.

I began the inquisition with Shannon Tolar, a friend who works at British Vogue in NYC and London.  She has exceptional taste and expresses a fashion style that is always forward, feminine and polished.

When I posed the question of what styles or pieces she feels can be carried over from previous Fall seasons, Shannon explained to me that her timeless items are “a well-tailored black leather Prada straight skirt, as well as a fur trim piece or fur ‘scarf’ that can wrap around the neck of an inexpensive sweater and make it look like a million dollars.”

2 outfit 1 Fall Back Into Fashion with Some Friendly Fashion Advise

Photo Credit, from left: Maison Martin Magiela Goat Fur Scarf, Bergdorf Goodman; Docle & Gabbana Leather Pencil Skirt, Nordstroms; L’Agence Leather Pencil Skirt, Barneys NY

Another classic item in her closet is a beautifully tailored shift dress.  “I must have 15 in various colors, textures and prints that I’ve worn for years.”  These classic, yet always contemporary dresses are extremely versatile whether worn alone or under a blazer or cardigan.

2 outfit 2 Fall Back Into Fashion with Some Friendly Fashion Advise

Photo Credit, from left: Lauren by Ralph Lauren Black Wool Stretch Sheathe Dress, Ralph Lauren; Rachel Roy Sleeveless Shift Dress, Bloomingdales

She went on to add that anything with skins “such as Dolce & Gabbana’s leopard pieces have been shown in their collections for years.”

And speaking of skins, Shannon expressed her excitement in owning something snakeskin this season…a bag, a skirt or even a printed top.  “Snakeskin and black leather for the ‘fetish trend’ are very IN this Fall.”

To add even more spice to this palate, she’ll throw in a splash of red.   She invested in a pair of Jimmy Choo fire engine red patent shoes, which, as she puts it, “look gorgeous with chocolate brown, black, white and definitely skins!”

I continued on with my quest and met with Joanne Slattery, who is currently Vice President at Vineyard Vines after holding similar positions at Tory Burch and Burberry.Her timeless pieces totally define her lifestyle and attitude – clean and classic…with a twist.Items such as a great pair of riding boots from Vince Camuto and a soft rib turtleneck have been a staple in her winter wardrobe for years.

Joanne stated that despite the fact that there are tons of skinny jeans out there right now, she still “favors the best boot cut jean.”Whether worn together with a wool tweed jacket or alone with a leather belt and printed scarf, the look always looks fresh and new. Throw on some easy black boots and a riding jacket to complete the classic Fall look.And maybe from her many days at Burberry, she added, “ A trench coat is forever.”

2 outfit 3 Fall Back Into Fashion with Some Friendly Fashion Advise

Photo Credit, from left: Blue Bin Trench Coat, Anthropologie; Hudson Signature Bootcut Jean, Hudson Jeans; Vince Skinny Rib Turtleneck, Scoop

Her new wardrobe ‘wants’ trend toward this season’s lady like approach to fashion. Starting with a J. Crew monogrammed cashmere cardigan, stating that, “many brides-to-be in her office thought if was a great gift for them.”

She adds in a romantic, silky blouse from Trina Turk and a new pair of Jimmy Choo nude pumps to balance the look for Fall/Winter.

When I thought about my own closet I realized that my attire has definitely changed since my career has changed.  I’ve gone from working everyday in New York, traveling for days at a time, and presenting to store management to teaching students, editing clients’ closets and yes, driving to various sports tournaments.  My tried and true “go to” pieces aren’t the same.


When I thought about what I’ve enjoyed wearing each chilly day in the past, I quickly came up with my favorites’ list.Black leggings in a fabric thick enough to look like skinny pants, but soft enough to be comfortable are a must.   Helmut Lang Skinny Leggings with Leather Insert from Barneys can be worn with a wool jacket or my favorite, cozy fur trimmed cardigan.

Over the knee boots have been in my closet since 1990 and I still love wearing the style.  With the leggings mentioned above, with skinny jeans that are still in style or with a short sweater dress.

Lastly, for all those errands and transports, I love my jeans and low suede boots (that I can also wear with that sweater dress.)

2 outfit 5 boots Fall Back Into Fashion with Some Friendly Fashion Advise

Photo Credit: LD Tuttle Shifter Boot, La Garconne; Miu Miu Black Lace Boot, Nordstrom

I’d like to add just a few pieces this season, but I definitely have time to add to my list!A new shape coat is what I’m missing.AllsaintsSpitalfields has a boiled wool coat that almost reads as a cardigan and is fabulous with a leather legging/skinny pant.  Simple yet fashion forward.

2 outfit 6 coats Fall Back Into Fashion with Some Friendly Fashion Advise

Photo Credit, from left: Lendra Coat, Allsaints Spitalfields; Loop Pile Coat, Zara

Lastly, I’m guilty of keeping and adding the same shape jean to my collection every season…the flare leg (and sometimes even a wide leg) jean.  I love wearing them all year round with a platform wedge boot or sandals.  I can even add Joanne’s feminine blouse suggestion to further update the look for this Fall season.

That’s just the beginning….I’m sure I’ll enjoy shopping for more as the days go by!

Trish McQuillen is the owner of Style Design and can be found on “You never know where the path leads….mine went to working for Giorgio Armani one day to teaching Fashion Merchandising at a local college the next.  And now I’m helping clients feel more confident when they dress…and writing a few blogs, such as this one, in between! “


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