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Who needs a calendar? It's the shopping season

NEW YORK — Got calendar confusion? The date says it's officially summer, but vacations are over and kids are headed back to school. — and, yes, that is Halloween candy at the store. The fashion world can set you straight: It's the fall shopping season.

And it's a good one, says Nina Garcia, fashion director at Marie Claire and "Project Runway" judge.

"This is not a season that you have to spend a lot of money to get into the trends," she says. "It's a very conservative and classic season, everything is ladylike or minimal. It's a good season to buy and keep, not a season to buy and toss next season."

Garcia, author of the new book "Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion," also says there's no reason to wait to wear many of the top fall styles until it's chilly. The ladylike pumps on her shopping list, for example, pair just as well with a sleeveless sheath as they do with wool trousers.

The Associated Press asked Garcia for the must-haves on their personal shopping lists.

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No. 1 on her list is the camel-colored coat that she says defines the season. "Almost every single designer showed one," she says. "If you don't have one, it's the year to get one. It's like a pea coat, you can keep it forever."

An added bonus, she adds, is that the luxe hue is flattering to a full range of complexions.

There's another coat Garcia says she covets, specifically a Burberry shearling. "I will have one of those," she declares, allowing, though, that one will have to wait for cooler weather.

Garcia also will invest in a hand-held, framed purse — gone are the super-slouchy hobos — that will complement those stiletto pumps. "We've had saturation with the big, platform, angry shoes."

A leopard-print bag, belt or scarf is something she'll buy, and she suggests others do, too, because of their versatility and ability to instantly elevate an outfit to a more fashion-forward level.

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