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Button up! Fall is on the way

It seems as if everyone I've been talking to since Labor Day weekend has been 1) shopping for fall clothes, 2) shuffling around clothes in their closets, or 3) laundering at least some of their summer staples one final time for the season.
Even though this week has been hot and humid, a change of wardrobe is in the works - even if it's too soon to pull on a wool jacket and leather boots.
After months of strappy sandals, light-colored cottons and wrinkly linens, fall fashions always look tempting. The rich colors and fabrics. The structured jackets. The handsome handbags. The shoes!
Indeed, I landed myself a pair of leopard-print flats last weekend. I haven't worn them yet, but I gave them a prime spot on my shoe shelf that was previously occupied by my white, well-worn sandals. Goodbye summer. Hello fall.
The shoes reminded me how, year after year, I never tire of animal prints. Sure, I like some patterns more than others and prefer natural colors to, say, lime-green zebra prints or cheetah patterns in shocking fuchsia or orange.
And I also like them on classic pieces and in small doses. A blouse. A scarf. The lining of a purse or jacket. And, of course, a pair of leopard flats.
We've been talking about some other favorite fall pieces that look - and feel - good year after year:
. Turtlenecks: There are so many styles and colors to choose from. I love a black ribbed turtleneck - whether it's paired with jeans or with a hounds-tooth-check pencil skirt. Whatever the style and color, a turtleneck can be one of your most versatile fall pieces.
. Your favorite, most comfortable sweatshirt: We put this in the category of "clothes to wear while walking the dog on crisp, chilly days."
. Opaque tights: You can't beat them for work, and they look great with many styles of shoes as well as with boots. Black opaques are a top favorite, but there are plenty of other colors as well. Tip: If you like opaques, stock up now.
. Gloves: Whether knit or leather, they add style to your outfit and warmth to your hands.
. Fall hats: Even if you are not a hat wearer, these always draw attention in fall catalogs and stores. Berets and fedoras (expect to see wide-brim styles this fall) are classic - and even wearable.
. Equestrian details: Whether it's a handbag or a pair of riding boots, it's a look that is very much fall. And timeless.
. Great buttons: I'm serious here. Whether it's a single button or a grouping, this is one detail that really matters.
As a style writer once put it: "The unsung accessory, the button does more than its share to establish the appeal, spirit and perceived quality of clothes."
And, remember, you can always upgrade the buttons on anything you buy or already own - from a classic blazer to a cocktail dress.