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Fashion: FALL ISSUE : TOP Priorities

No matter how sumptuous a mohair sweater may look in the store, it isn’t likely to weather L.A.'s warmer-than-East-Coast early fall days.

But by following a careful strategy, it is possible to assemble a transition wardrobe that will work now through the holidays, look right and beat the early fall heat.

The wardrobe assembled here blends with such basics as a solid black skirt, a colorful blouse or sweater that many women already have in their closets. But it also includes at least five looks of its own.

Two key elements make a transitional wardrobe work:

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* Year-round colors such as black and white, olive and red.

* Layering clothes, adjusting them as temperatures drop.

The crux of this wardrobe is a black leather jacket. Put it over a sleeveless undershirt and jeans or leggings for a casual look. Or pair it with a sleeveless cotton ruffled shirt and one of the new girdle-like hip slips as an evening piece.

For a warm day, the olive-colored cotton/Lycra turtleneck bodysuit shown here is a lightweight fall-toned top to mix with houndstooth-check city shorts in porous basket-weave wool.

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A cooler alternative substitutes a short ivory and black crepe skirt for city shorts. In cool evening breezes, the leather jacket can ward off the chill and add a sporty look.

Accessories add an autumnal element without warmth or weight. A red bag will give color to black and white basics. A gold belt dresses up the shorts and olive turtleneck. A silver-tone shoulder bag with black accents adds a hint of evening elegance to the leather jacket.

Opaque tights in black or cream also add a fall feeling; so do suede shoes or leather cowboy boots.

The National Weather Service’s 90-day forecast for Southern California calls for little change in temperatures through November. Predictions also include a 55% probability of above-average precipitation.

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Given the unpredictable temperatures of this summer, it makes as much sense to check the weather forecast as the fashion magazines for guidance this autumn.


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