9 smart ways to update your wardrobe for Fall

A model in a skirt walks the Carlos Miele Spring 2012 Fashion Show in New York

Story highlights

  • Fashion expert Nikki Pennie identifies the styles to look out for during Fall/Winter 2011.
  • She says there is a look or piece that will suit everyone, both financially and stylistically.
  • The most prominent trend from the catwalk this season will be the skirt, Pennie claims.
Fabulous news for this season -- there is a look or piece that will suit everyone, and I mean everyone. Finally hooray, looks from the runway that real people can actually wear. Even better, the key trends seem to be sensitive to the financial climate -- investment pieces have pushed out throwaway fashion and are the underlying theme throughout.
1. For the ladies: Return of the skirt
The most prominent and wearable trend from the catwalks for this season is the skirt. The dress has dominated for a while but now it's time for the skirt to reign supreme. The mini, the midi, the maxi, the maxi with slits and the femme fatale "Mad Men"-inspired forties ladylike pencil skirt are all big news, coming in copious colors from merlot to eye-popping, color-blocking citrus.
The maxi should be every woman's best friend: It covers a multitude of sins and looks effortlessly elegant during the day with chic ballet flats and for the evening paired with a gorgeous blazer or even a leather jacket. The mini can be a show stopper if you have pins that go on for days.
I would opt for the most prominent shape this season, the pencil skirt. It can have the same effect as a mini on a model if you are a real girl with curves. VA VA VOOM! The midi is the black sheep from the runway -- it's an underrated yet exquisite option for any fruit shape, apple or pear.
2. Fashion grows up
Sophistication, luxury and empowerment set the tone for fall/winter 2011. There is a new feel for simple, wearable shapes and delicious fabrics from the decadent eras of the forties, sixties and seventies.
Colors are eye popping and blocking; androgyny and masculine tailoring a la luxe tux are in. Sensational prints, gold and baroque, high-octane glamour, statement chokers, snakeskin, fetish, fur, lace and tartan were all over the catwalks.
But remember, less is always more! The biggest fashion faux pas is to wear a trend head to toe -- unless it is Halloween ... Highlight trends with an accessory or one piece of the outfit and then downplay the rest with neutral, minimal pieces. Add a magical touch of gold in the form of magnificent killer heels or a clutch, or take a classic t-shirt and add the jewelry du jour -- a statement choker -- for instant glamour.
3. Accessory updates
Accessories are undoubtedly the most fabulous way to update an outfit.
Ladylike chic is here to stay, so what better way to sail into the new season than to invest in a little piece of heaven -- a leopard-print bag for day and night -- like the Jimmy Choo "Catherine." This hits the spot on two levels: it's a classic investment piece that is timeless, plus it incorporates my favorite trend that has been on the prowl for a while now, the leopard. Pair this beauty with a simple black dress or suit and you immediately look as if you have effortlessly stepped out of the pages of Vogue Paris.
4. Cozy cashmere
The perfect sweater is such an essential -- it will make you smile in addition to keeping you warm. Practicality is the most inviting aspect of this trend. Cozy knits come in almost every rainbow color, striking prints or solid neutrals with bohemian or luxe undertones. I adore knits when they are slightly oversized and chunky. Wear them with leather trousers, silky luxurious evening dresses or jeans. The hip New York designer Chris Benz has concocted the perfect Houston cashmere oversized sweater with extra long sleeves. You will never want to take it off.
5. Comfortable kicks
At this time of year, boots are key. This fall, go for boots that are either flat or have a tiny heel, or are extremely high. Platforms and fringes are trends to look out for, and look for details like lacing or buckles for an extra zing. Equestrian riding boots never cease to epitomize elegance. I may have found my next boot obsession in the form of Tory Burch's "Corey" flat boots. These fabulous babies are incredibly chic. I love the fact that they are a mix of leather with suede giving them that cool city edge -- and you can actually walk in them!
6. For the guys: Turtlenecks rule
Gentlemen, you are not forgotten. This season, turtlenecks are your equivalent to the pencil skirt. You'll find this elegant essential anywhere from Gucci to J Crew.
Turtlenecks come in a variety of different colors, but for fall and winter, the jewel tones are the most spectacular -- look for emerald green, cobalt blue and purple. They aren't too bulky so you can pair them with any kind of blazer, leather jacket, jeans or pants for an instant handsome mogul effect. This could help you in both work and play -- remember, first impressions always count!
7. Pilot jackets
Leather jackets are always the most pivotal item in a man's closet. They are casual, cool, classic and forever fall.
This season, the pilot jacket influenced a lot of the catwalk shows, from Louis Vuitton to Cerruti. This essential piece of leather may incorporate the trends of sheepskin and shearling. This iconic piece of clothing became popular during World War II as the uniform of the patriotic aviator pilots. It then had a resurgence in the 1980s due to a little movie called "Top Gun." Gentlemen, if you are going to invest in anything, invest in this as a good leather jacket will last forever and will get better with age like a fine wine. Go for a soft leather that feels as if it's your second skin.
8. Military boots
What Fall boot should men snap up? Military boots are still going strong and the Chelsea boot is making an interesting return. Frye is a great source. They have an exquisite selection of boots that will give a kick to your look.
Simple black leather or suede is consistently the best option but grey, beige and brown are also interesting. The only downside with these is that they are best matched with skinny pants and they don't necessarily suit all. But on the upside, these boots are incredibly comfortable as they hug your ankle and will instantly give you that Brit mod feel.
9. Keeping it real
I am a humungous fan of "High Street" stores i.e. Zara, Topshop, Gap, J Crew, Banana Republic, Target, Forever 21 to name a few. You can now get most of these trends on a budget, which makes me so excited to go update my wardrobe for the cold wintery days ahead -- even though in LA they are few and far between.