(CBS News) For many of us, it's almost time to pack up those bathing suits and sundresses for good.
As summer comes to a close and that crisp air trickles in, it's time to strategize about fall fashion. Think -- favorite jeans, boots, warm scarf, cozy winter coat, and hopefully something new.Special Section: Fashion Week in New York
That's where Fashion's Night Out comes in. The global initiative returns for a fourth year, and while the upcoming New York Fashion Week looks to hot looks for spring 2012, Fashion's Night Out focuses on the "now" trends: what piece (or pieces) to grab this fall. The annual event, slated for Thursday, Sept. 6, starting at 6 p.m. ET, has expanded to some 500 cities and 19 countries, giving shoppers an opportunity to pinpoint the latest trends and get sneak peeks of fall lines.
But the initiative, aimed at engaging consumers and boosting the economy, doesn't always translate to deep discounts, as the fall season inventory has only recently come into stock.
So, if you're heading out for Fashion's Night Out, what economical item should you scope out and add to your shopping list? We asked a few fashion experts for some guidance.
"I think it's about a great dress this fall," Shopbop fashion director Treena Lombardo told CBSNews.com. "There are so many dress options out there and there's such value in buying a dress because you put one thing on and your outfit is ready to go. So you can either play it up for work, wearing a blazer or some sort of fur at night. It's just a really great spend."
Celebrity stylist Brad Goreski believes everyone should have a pair of "party pumps - something that is attention grabbing that makes you happy." Pair that with a little black dress and you'll be good to go, he says.
"If you don't really want to think about it and you're in a hurry, always reaching for the little black dress is great," he told CBSNews.com.
Accessories are another potential option.
"Without a doubt I would start with some kind of collar necklace," said Dorothy Cascerceri, senior editor and fashion correspondent at In Touch Weekly. "What we're seeing are these really beautiful necklaces that resemble a Peter Pan collar. The thing that's so nice about them is that they can be worn with just about anything."
In the end, many style experts agree that it's best to pick up what feels right.
"In terms of trend, it's not about the shape of the dress or the trend, it's about what works best with your body and what looks the best on you," said Lombardo.
With its celebrity appearances and limited edition items, Fashion's Night Out aims to make shopping fun.
"I think it's all about finding that piece and having a couple of cocktails and maybe buying the thing you wouldn't normally buy and having a little bit of bravery behind it," said Lombardo, former fashion director at Allure.
So, don't forget to wear (or pack) your flats before you head out the door for Fashion's Night Out. There could be a lot of walking in your future.
And while you're at it, check out our "cheat sheet" below:
Who said you couldn't wear white after Labor Day? Off-white had made it on to many of this year's fall trends list. "I think it's a value-based thing because it can take you from fall into spring, where you can wear your off-white dress with brown boots, or brown suede shoes or black," Lombardo said. "And then in the spring you can wear it with a metallic sandal."
Cascerceri echoed those sentiments. One of her must-have items for the fall is either a white jacket or vest.
"You just have to dress it properly," she said. "You don't want to wear a white blacker or vest with something floral or pastel." Instead pair it with something fall-oriented, like a pair of military-style cargo pants.
Be prepared to see a lot of jewel-toned colors this fall. Burgundy will also be big. Refinery 29 and Budget Fashionista see metallics and shines peeking through this fall, too. Marie Claire calls black and blue an "it" color combination for autumn.
Boots made for walking
No longer just something Serena van der Woodsen would don on "Gossip Girl," over-the-knee boots are for more than just for "Upper East Side's fashion elite."
"It used to be kind of a hyperbolic statement in fashion," said Lombardo of Shopbop. "Women are wearing more knee-high and over-the-knee boots. And there are so many great styles."
Accessories: Don't forget the bauble
No great outfit would be complete without the right accessories. A look at the fall 2012 runways found strong statement jewelry pieces.
Baublebar fashion director Shoshanna Fischhoff told CBSNews.com she sees three jewelry trends this fall.
"There was definitely an air of opulence on the runways, and that gave way to some amazing bejeweled pieces, she said." The second trend is proof positive that the 'Rooney Mara Effect' is still in full force, with metal and spikes still important jewelry themes. This season, though, they have softened, and cleaner, more polished silhouettes are succeeding their more overtly punk predecessors."
The final trend, Fischhoff says, is animal-themed jewelry.
"I can never get enough of it, whether it's an animal skin piece, a great print treatment, or a more literal animal motif," she said.
Leather will once again appear in a big way this fall. So, if you don't already have a staple leather jacket, now might be the time to splurge. "We're still seeing a ton of leather -- leather pants, leather jackets," Lombardo said. Leather dresses, too.
If you already have a favorite leather piece, then think color. Lombardo expects we will see leather in interesting colors like grays and greens. "It says to us that it's [leather] going to be a larger part of your wardrobe," she added.
Also keep an eye on patent leather - if you dare. Budget Fashionista picks it as one of this season's hottest trends: "We do love a good shot of patent leather, and this fall the textile gods have seen fit to gift us with a trend that would allow us to do patent in a big, big way. That being said, decent patent is pricey (and cheap patent coats look, well, cheap) so we're thinking to incorporate the trend in a more reserved item" - like a vest.
Fashion sites have jumped on the oversized coats trend.
"Maybe it's just my love of big, luxurious blankets, but an oversized coat totally nails it for fall. It's chic and completely begs to be wrapped around me," wrote Gina Marinelli of Refinery 29.
Embellished knits and texture
Looking for something different? A different texture could just do the trick. Elle names velvet one of its top trends for fall 2012, and Refinery 29 says to look to embellished knits for a little extra "oomph" and to set you apart from the herd.
"There is a return to opulence and luxury that we saw in the fall collections with a lot of embroidery, a lot of velvets and luxurious fabrics," said Goreski,"It's a Brad, Brad World." "I think there is also a very big shift to continuing with clean lines, minimalism and just really beautifully-tailored pieces."
Keep your denim shirt
You know that denim shirt you adore pairing with your favorite summer dress? Don't pack it away yet; Goreski says it can take you though the fall.
"I think they [denim shirts] are affordable. They mix really well - day and night," he said. "Whether you are wearing it over a blouse, doing a pencil skirt with a denim shirt or denim on denim, which I'm a huge fan of and I widely promote."
Tell us: What do you plan to pick up during Fashion's Night Out?