The artful accessory grows more important with each season, and this fall's entries into the field are of special note. Many have the polished look that denotes high quality; others are on the spectacular side. Few are of the faddish kind that falls into the buy-today, give-away-tomorrow category.
''Artful'' can be applied to the belt, piece of jewelry, hat, or glove that is the perfect complement to a particular outfit and that succeeds in enhancing its effect. But some new accessories are so skillfully designed they are little works of art, thus are artful in another sense.
The assortment now arriving in the stores ranges from the handsomely tailored to the decidedly opulent. The selection is geared to the leading trends: man-tailored belts and fur-felt fedoras for haberdasher styles; jeweled crest pins and cuff bracelets for upscale career clothes; and multiple-strand chokers or cascades of colorful beads for evening glamour.
Best bets for high fashion this season are the beret, the soft clutch bag, and pearls. All would be effective foils for a subdued city suit. New beret shapes are somewhat constructed and firm in outline. They are often piped with leather, a touch that distinguishes much of this year's millinery. Leather handbags, which also may have contrasting trim of snake or suede, tend to be draped or pleated, although some of the popular woven-leather styles remain in circulation.
As to pearls, the fakes (which have been Frenchified and are now called faux) , are on hand in all sizes, lengths, colors, and styles, from dog-collar to ultra-long. Mixing the real with the imitation and combining jeweled chains with pearl ropes, as Coco Chanel taught the world to do, is just as stylish as ever. Long necklaces in multiples are not, however, recommended for business, as anyone who has caught one on the handle of a desk drawer will testify.
Since many new clothes are earth-toned, dark in color, or unrelieved winter white, new accessories provide flashes of color and the interest of pattern. Big fake (or faux, if you will) cabochons in ruby, sapphire, or emerald in gold-plated metal settings of imposing size are the rule for earrings, bangle bracelets, and choker collars. This is not a season for dinky apologetic pieces of jewelry.
Another way to add snap to suits, dresses, coats, and pants is with a dash of color in a hat. Besides the beret, slouchy Garbo-style fedoras or rounded-crown styles with straight brims are good choices. Makins's fur felt fedora has a snakeskin band. Frank Olive's red felt roller style is edged and banded in leather.
Tops in belts are the classic medium-width embossed leathers by Calvin Klein, the perfect accompaniment for pants and tailored dresses. Wide double-wrap belts are offered as hip-huggers and cinches for long sweaters and big coats. Crocodile-embossed leather is also in favor for sleek suit bags in both luxury-class styles like Armani's and less expensive shoulder bags. Other patterns and textures in leather: graphic stenciling and blocked grid effects.
To chase away the chill, there are oversize mufflers and shawls in large colorful paisleys, classic plaids, herringbones, and checks. The big nubby-surfaced silk scarf or hand-woven tactile wool tweed muffler swept around the shoulders of the fall coat is a dashing accent. Some new scarves are fringed like men's oblong scarves were in the 1920s.
For evening, the rhinestone rage is still with us, as evidenced by Yves Saint- Laurent's above-elbow length gloves, which have bands of flashing glitter running from wrist to upper arm. But huge pearls, marble-sized colored beads, and crystals combined with antique gold or pewter are very much in the picture. The bigger and bolder the costume jewelry, the better, and there's no risk in wearing a faux king's ransom after dark.