Layers and leopard prints are trends to watch for this fall. File photo by Will Shilling.

Yes, the heat might be making it difficult to think about warm sweaters and layered looks, but autumn is almost upon us (at least in storefronts)--and the season has much to offer. A snapshot of what's hot for fall:

* Black: Everyone's saying it, yet the statement still has a ring to it: Black is the new black. Black pieces are smart investments. So if you splurge, you can't go wrong with black. * Animal prints: Leopard is especially popular. Those who are fashion-forward can have a lot of fun with this. But the less-adventurous have plenty of options, too. A leopard-print scarf or pair of shoes can be an easy - and affordable - way to achieve the look. * Layers: Not unlike most autumns, layering returns in a big way. You'll see a lot of oversized sweaters that pair well with leggings and jeggings, the jeans-leggings combination pants now populating stores. * Suits: They're back! And they're structured. Suits are an easy way to look put together. Suit jackets are also a sophisticated option for layering. If you don't have a black jacket you love, find one. * Capes: Their run from last winter continues - and for good reason. Capes are striking and can luxe up any outfit.

--Kristy Eckert