By Summer Stanley

It never fails that even before summer is over, I look forward to the respite of crisp, cool air and the promise of new beginnings it brings. Whether it’s the start of a new school year, a new sporting season or just the change in landscape — the many layers of my closet beg to be worn again.

For women, fall is the highlight of the year in fashion, with no shortage of outfit inspiration at every turn. More coverage, richer fabrics, deeper colors — not to mention an excuse for using outerwear — are all reasons why it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I didn’t even mention those pumpkin lattes.

Locals, you may find this season especially exciting if you’ve noticed the equestrian trend that has quickly galloped onto the fashion scene.

Tory Burch has designed an entire fall/winter line called “The New Equestrian” based on her childhood love of riding. Horse-and-chariot abstract prints, horsehair tassels, leather with harness accessories, jodhpurs and a selection of boots keep the collection grounded.

Look to Worth New York for horse-bit prints on blouses, dresses and elegant silk scarves. Even more mainstream brands, such as Sam & Libby, have taken cues from this theme with their menswear-inspired women’s horse-bit loafers.

Like most of your friends, your social calendar is full this month with the 62nd running of the Virginia Fall Races and Middleburg Film Festival quickly approaching. Both provide plenty of opportunities for wearing your favorite trends and old classics to the park, wine tastings, opening film nights and after-parties.

Your artisan’s palette:

Drink up anything in shades of burgundy and merlot. They’re a given for fall, but pair beautifully with blush pink, a true autumn rose.

Neutrals of camel, beige and tan look sophisticated on their own.

Hunter green, a standout jewel tone this season, is flattering on everyone.

Spice things up with mustard yellow, cinnamon and other earthy autumnal hues when color-blocking with your basic blacks.

Chic ways to take off the chill:

Try a suede moto jacket with a feminine blouse (floral prints, lace or ruffles do the trick) for a gorgeous contrast in dainty and daring.

Velvet blazers are perfect to add a little warmth to your lighter weight dresses and can take jeans or trousers from day to night.

Tweed remains timeless and a great investment not only for coats, but also for dresses and capes.

Switch out the straw for felt and wool floppy hats, cloches or fedoras.

Where to hunt: 

“One-Button Velvet Blazer” ($178):

LC Lauren Conrad Runway Collection “Faux-Suede Moto Jacket” ($120) and “Velvet Blazer” ($70):

 “Tweed Shift Dress” ($250):

Dubarry of Ireland “Samphire Tweed Cape” ($599): Tri-County Feeds, Fashions, Finds, 7408 John Marshall Highway, Marshall, VA 20115, 540-362-1891

Veronica Beard “Dickey Jacket”: Tully Rector, 13 E. Washington Street, Middleburg, VA 20117, 540-687-5858

That’s a wrap:

Bold layering pieces like long sweaters, ponchos and wraps add instant drama.

Lucy Beall, assistant manager of Lou Lou Boutiques in Middleburg, told me, “Our classic shawl vest has been our most popular item thus far. They are very versatile with multiple ways you can wear them, and they come in 10 different colors. Women of all ages are buying it — we have to keep restocking!”

Statement faux-fur, Dubarry style, brings old Hollywood glamour to the country.

Where to hunt: 

“Classic Shawl Vest” ($39): Lou Lou Boutiques, 9 E. Washington St., Middleburg, VA 20117, 540-687-8702

Dubarry of Ireland “Altamont Faux Fur Wrap” available in chinchilla and elk ($39): Tri-County Feeds, Fashions, Finds, 7408 John Marshall Hwy., Marshall, VA 20115, 540-364-1891

Mudd “Colorblock Long Vest” in rust ($50): 

“Moxie at the Movies Scarf” in merlot ($29):

“Wool Cashmere Poncho Sweater” ($195):

Party dressage:

Midi-length dresses are your go-to (hem length to mid-calf). Fit-and-flare styles in lace are the portrait of demure.

Faux leather gives an edgier look in dresses, skirts and leggings.

Fitted knits and mock necks can help you transition to fall when worn underneath maxi dresses with straps.

Jumpsuits, rompers and off-shoulder pieces continue to receive rave reviews for a night out on the town.

Lace-up flats are a lovely alternative to wearing heels for hours!

Where to hunt:

Tory Burch “Trocadero Leather-Trim Belted Dress” ($595):

Crepe Seamed Midi Dress” ($149) and “Faux Leather Pencil Skirt” ($109), both in hunter:

“Lace Fit-and-Flare Dress” in oxblood ($52):

Also, be sure to visit Tully Rector, a proud supplier of Milly, to find your perfect fall dress for the big event.

Tally-ho, shoppers! ML