Whatever you wear for fall, make sure you follow this fashion-essentials list

Five fabulous trends for autumn: accessories; anything that speaks Southwest; corduroy; a dramatic pop of color; and layering pieces to make a smooth transition from late summer to fall and winter.

Although the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City this month will spotlight designer looks for spring 2013, we everyday folks are still clothed in summer garb — but autumn and cooler temps are most certainly on our minds.

What are the smart buys to wake up your wardrobe for fall? There are many — from such classic statement pieces as the little black dress, oversized sunglasses and trench coats, of course — but we have narrowed down the list.

We researched the trends and shopped around to bring you about five fashion staples we deem as closet must-haves for the fall:

ACCESSORY MADNESS: MORE IS MIGHTILY MORE

A menswear-inspired hat, a paisley or houndstooth-print scarf, a cross-body bag in a bold color, and wristful of bangles can peacefully co-exist in one look. Really.

A glorious mash-up of baubles and much more is just what the style experts have ordered.

What makes accessories a nifty choice: From discount stores to upscale clothiers, the mix of floral and funk, lace and leather, or animal print and military means there is virtually something for everyone and every age.

Why accessories should be on your must-have list: A belt, for instance, is an easy and inexpensive way to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Case in point: The Kirna Zabête at Target collection, which will debut in October at the mega-retailer, promotes the mix-and-match method with lace tights, scarves, hats, handbags and jewelry. Channel this thought: Whimsy … tastefully done.

Where to find accessories: Ann Taylor, Charming Charlies, Target … and do not forget to check out area boutiques.

THE CALL OF THE WILD, WILD WEST

Anything that beckons the Southwest, John Wayne and Kevin Costner movies, or American Indian culture, is rocking the ready-to-wear runway for fall.

Best of all, you do not have to go head-to-toe western to nail down the look. A studded leather (or pleather) belt, for instance, will suffice, while a feather-adorned necklace, a denim jacket, a pair of Levis, or a fringed handbag or poncho will definitely carry the wonderful west-of-the-Mississippi River well into southwestern Ohio fall and then winter.

Boots, for instance, were made for walking in serious style. Think equestrian riding boots or the eternal favorite — cowboy boots — and ride into the sunset.

How much the Western-inspired theme costs: Name your price, cowboy. We found everything from feather drop earrings at Old Navy for $8.94 to an incredibly sexy pair of colorfully embroidered Old Gringo Bonnie boots for $578. (And a cotton bandana is almost always under $1.)

Where you can get Southwest style: Target, Walmart, Gap, Forever 21, Kohl s and other retail giants are tapping into the spirit of the Southwest. If you can splurge, then mosey over to such upscale websites as www.sundancecatalog.com (yep, Robert Redford founded this country-chic company) or www.garnethill.com. Or take a spin through any shop carrying Ralph Lauren s lines or log on to the website (www.ralphlauren.com).

Area boutiques carrying the Old Gringo line include Get Dressed Boutique, 2501 Far Hills Ave., Dayton 45419, (937) 299-9109; Boot Country, 11551 Chester Road, Cincinnati, 45246, (513) 772-2238; and Monkee’s of Madeira, 6928 Miami Ave., Cincinnati 45243; (513) 271-0038.

CRAZY FOR COLOR

To be truly on the fashion A-list this fall, you need to set aside the notion of restraint when it comes to color. Shades of grey still work, but the goth hues are taking center stage now.

The makeup artists at Sephora, who have paired with color-trend predictor Pantone, have deemed purple and crimson as must-have shades this season. If these dramatic jewel tones are not your cup of tea, then fear not. Pastels still modestly reign, while such psychedelic colors as coral, yellow, green are happily seen as well.

Why color should be on your must-have list: Color is a natural pick-me-up.

How much color costs: Again, a splash of color comes with a you-name-it price tag.

Where you can get a splash of color: Anywhere. From a go-to Maybelline or Revlon lipstick and liner available in drugstores (or Kroger or Meijer) to the luscious reds in the Make Up For Ever (cq) brand at Sephora stores, color is joyfully everywhere. We love the OPI nail polish colors, too: Black Cherry Chutney (retails for $8.50).

COOL CORDUROY

Nothing says fall better than something in corduroy. This durable fabric was seen in shorts this summer, and now the love affair with cords continues into fall with jackets, pants and other cool-weather cuts.

Why cords should be on your must-have list: Comfy corduroy is perfect to wear at a tailgating party or a weekend getaway.

How much corduroy costs: It depends on the quality of the cloth.

Where you can get corduroy apparel: We found cords galore at Gap, Coldwater Creek, Talbots and Chico stores.

LUSCIOUS LAYERING

No need to pack away short-sleeved shirts, tees or tanks this season because they are the ideal items with which to layer and ease into fall.

How much layering costs: Again, anything goes for price points on tanks, tees, cardigans and other pieces that work year-round. Pick up a graphic tee for $5 at Walmart, for example, or go for sequined dressy tee at New York & Company for $20. We also found a chic burgundy-and-navy striped top with three-quarter sleeves for $29.90 at the Limited shops.

Department stores, too, are well-stocked with apparel to slip under — or over — summer dresses, vests or tops. Macy’s, Van Maur, Elder-Beerman and Saks Fifth Avenue stores, for example, are great for one-stop shopping.

Where you can find layering options: The sky is the limit. For online shopping, visit www.anthropologie.com and www.bluefly.com or try www.renttherunway to really nurture your inner fashionista.

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