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Break the right rules for a more-fashionable fall

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Does summer fashion end on Labor Day?
Does summer fashion end on Labor Day?

Labor Day signifies the unofficial end of summer — and the final time to wear certain clothing.

What are the rules? Is everything white forbidden? Straw handbags? Sandals? Linen?

There are no hard and fast rules, fashion experts say.

“Color is not seasonal,” says David Zyla, Emmy Award-winning stylist and author of “Color Your Style: How to Wear Your True Colors.” “White can be worn year-round in different weights, which are appropriate to each season. The new rule is wearing color that looks great on you year-round. A bright pink coat in the dead of winter not only makes the woman who wears it smile, but is a happy sight that takes the chill out of the wintery air for all those who see her.”

There really are no rules about fashion after Labor Day, agrees Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. What you wear is about self-expression. And if it's 90 degrees in September, it's just fine to put on a pair of white jeans, he says.

“The weather will dictate how you are going to dress in the month or two following Labor Day,” says Andrews. “A lot of times, September is one of the hottest months of the year. You do, however have to start thinking about transitioning into fall.”

That might mean wearing a summer dress with a pair of booties — instead of a strappy sandal — and a leather jacket or blazer, which is perfect for possibly cool fall evenings. You don't have to jump right into heavy sweaters, Andrews says. Think about light layers at first.

There are items that should be stashed away:

• Anything nautical

• All-straw handbags

• Beach floppy hats

• 100-percent linen pieces

• Some silks and chiffons

Continue to wear fun colors. Just move away from neons and brights and go for richer tones, Andrews says. White is especially on trend this fall because the combination of black-and-white was on every runway.

Living in a four-season city such as Pittsburgh can be a fashion challenge. This is the time of year when women can be creative with their wardrobes, says Andrews. They can show some self-expression. And it is a chance to get more cost-per-wear out of a summer piece if you can wear it into fall.

“Living on the East Coast, we can definitely have warm days this time of year,” says Amber Herring, accessories editor at Self magazine. “So I say, you can wear sandals until it becomes really cold and snowy. And you can even wear socks with sandals, which is really new and modern.

“Putting away all the white shoes, handbags and other accessories is an old wives' tale type of thing,” she says. “It's a myth, and I certainly don't abide by it. Rules need to be broken, anyway. I say, if you get the feeling you can get away with wearing a certain piece, then go for it.”

Herring recommends mixing summer and fall pieces, because layering will be important as the weather changes.

“To honor the new season, you might think about accessorizing your looks differently to give them a seasonal flair,” Zyla says. “Think about replacing the sandal with the closed-toe shoe, the shell necklace with something less beachy, etc. … Fall is about getting back to work and back to school, and your clothing should reflect the seasonable vibe.”

This time of year is all about “toughening up” clothes, says Michelle Madhok, founder of and co-author with Eileen Conlan of “Wear. This. Now: Your Style Solution for Every Season and Any Occasion.”

“Leather is a big trend for fall, so pairing a summer skirt or dress with a leather jacket and leather boots will make it tougher. Or add a black blazer and boots to a pair of white jeans. Definitely stock up on T-shirts and tank tops, which you can find on sale now and make great layering pieces.”

You can even dress shorts into a fall look with leggings and tights, Madhok says. Wearing a T-shirt under a sleeveless dress extends its life. Mix neons with more subdued colors so you have only a little pop of the bold hue.

“Just make sure you are balanced in what you choose to wear,” she says. “Don't pair the leather jacket with the sundress and sandals. Go with a pair of booties to complement the jacket. That will make your look complete.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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