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A separate choice

Switching separates around is still a favored way of dressing. Most women like to subtract a few parts from previous years and add a few fresh pieces each season to extend the variety of changes they can make from day to day.

A high priority for the separates shopping list this fall is a sweater vest. Looser and straighter than vests of past years, the latest in sleeveless sweaters has a hand-knit look (or actually is hand knit), a V-neck, and some interesting buttons - mother-of-pearl, antiqued metal, wooden, or leather. The selection in the stores is quite generous. Wide cable-stitched wools are prevalent, but argyles, striped Fair Isle, and peasant-inspired patterns rate well also. The vests are often layered over full-sleeved blouses in tiny floral-printed or pristine white cotton.

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There is an abundance of new short jackets with Chesterfieldian collars of velvet or suede. Cropped jackets are mated with longish gathered skirts. Mixing patterns - a herringbone tweed top with a paisley skirt, for example - is advocated as long as there is a dominant color harmony to pull the whole outfit together.

In longer, thinner jackets a standout is Anne Klein's men's dressing gown - a short woolen bathrobe wrap, complete with self sash and the requisite contrasting piping. With a shirt and four-in-hand tie, tailored trousers of menswear wool, and a long schoolboy muffler, this type of jacket has classic but easy elegance. The wrap jacket also works fine with a straight skirt. Some long and lean-looking skirts have pleats grouped at one side, which helps when one is getting in and out of cars and so forth.

Shawls have not exactly gone into oblivion, but the huge challis squares from last year do not lend themselves to many of this year's fashions. Instead there are large silk printed scarves - both rectangular and square - which when folded or tied are more adaptable to current styles. Many in Echo's new assortment are exotic Persian-looking prints on dark grounds, which would be effective fill-ins around a neckline, or dashing spots of color when worn as a hip sash on a simple straight-lined dress.

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