Q: I don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes, but I do want to be fashionable. What are some fun ways to update my wardrobe this fall?


A: Forget florals and sundresses — fall is my favorite season on the fashion calendar. Fortunately, everything old typically finds its way back into style.

For the ladies, fashion continues to focus on ladylike separates, accented with bold prints, Crayola colors and plenty of accessories. For the gents, “Mad Men” continues to serve as fashion inspiration for dressier, fitted suits, printed ties and James Dean-inspired biker jackets.

The even better news is that the best versions of these styles can be found at your local vintage, thrift or secondhand store. I explained the differences between each option in a previous column. Now class is officially in session. It’s time to fine-tune your turtlenecks, sheaths and pantsuits. Here are a few items that have made frequent appearances on fashion hit lists this fall:


Chic cover-ups: Check out vintage or secondhand stores — or even the nearest Salvation Army location — for a departure from your basic black coat. Look for unique prints, textured fabric or interesting details like a shawl collar. Accessories like brooches and wide belts cost little but make a big statement when paired with your outerwear this season. If you make just one purchase, opt for a form-fitting trench in a vibrant color such as lavender and pair it with a wide belt for party time.

Arm candy: Whether you prefer silver or gold, it’s time to pile on the bracelets this fall. Scour the sample sales, yard sales and vintage stores for stackable style. Take it from Liz Taylor, every girl deserves at least one piece of jewelry. If you make just one purchase, look for a “statement” cuff, bangle or rolo link. A good friend discovered a silver Tiffany cuff at a yard sale and passed it on to me. Yup, she’s a member of my Friends Hall of Fame.

Disco diva: If you can pull off the platform heels, then this is your season. I scored an Italian black suede pair for $7 at a secondhand store and look forward to pairing them with some funky tights this fall. Since most people prefer their shoes to have only one owner, a pair of deep purple platforms or a funky animal print will serve you well. As for heel height, the sky is the limit, girlfriend.

Nouveaux nudes: Whether it’s a cardigan, a simple sheath dress or a pair of pumps, nude tones take center stage this fall as an update to the ever-present brown.

Ready to splurge? Start a treasure hunt for a vintage camel hair coat. It will work with your little black dress as well as turtlenecks and jeans.

Animal print: Add a little wildlife to your winter mix. I have my eye on a pair of leopard-print pumps, but my dog Lulu thinks fancy shoes are her own personal chew toys. Maybe I’ll stick with a belt.

Mix-and-match prints: It takes a keen eye to pull off this look with flair, but fall is time to mix it up with funky prints. Start with prints from the same color family. If you are ready to take the plunge, thumb through a few fashion mags for inspiration and shop your closet for prints to try.

Funky legwear: Your basic black dress gets a serious update when you add yellow, purple or electric blue tights. Graphic prints and bold lace tights also work for the office and office parties. I’ve even seen socks worn with those platform heels. Rock it like you’re on the runway. A pair of funky tights is a relatively small investment in an item I refuse to buy secondhand.

Belts, belts and more belts: Michelle Obama kicked off the belt-and-cardigan movement, and the look remains strong this fall. Thrift stores have plenty of gently worn belts at varying widths. Stock up on basic black and brown options at various widths and pair them with everything from your turtlenecks to your military jackets and blazers.


Try a turtleneck: Box up the button-downs for another season and bulk up your turtleneck wardrobe this fall. Worn under a camel blazer, an inexpensive gray turtleneck delivers a stylish and powerful punch.

Watch yourself: Guys don’t get many options when it comes to making a bold fashion statement. Leave the mobile phone in your pocket and take a treasure hunt through neighborhood thrift stores for a funky addition to your wrist wardrobe.

Camel works for guys, too: Nude is the new brown this fall. A classic camel-hair blazer will work for several years to come. Vintage stores are full of two- and three-button blazers waiting for a new home.

Take a ride on the wild side: Biker jackets make a strong statement any time of the year. Look for a well-weathered version of this classic in a thrift store near you.

Trim ties: With all the retro ties ranging from plaid to your basic solid, there is no reason to spend big bucks at a retail store. Channel Don Draper and his “Mad Men” cronies with a slim update on this classic item. Or branch out with some unexpected color.

Lace ’em up: A pair of leather lace-up boots add a bit of edginess to 9-to-5 business suits and work well on your basic jeans and T-shirt days. Two looks with one pair of shoes — how green is that?

— Morieka Johnson

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Photos: Associated Press, Getty Images

What are some fun, inexpensive ways to update my wardrobe this fall?
Morieka Johnson scours the runways and the thrift shops so you don't have to!