Why the long face? Is the thought of disposing of your lightweight, barely-there summer wardrobe unbearable? Are you feeling out of sorts because theres no other choice but to store away halter necks, tank tops, flowery sundresses, strappy sandals and flip-flops? It may be hard to accept but its time to cover up your arms and bare feet and face the fact that the new season has arrived.

Those sweltering, summer days have been replaced by partly sunny skies and cool temperatures. There is already an obvious chill in the early morning and late evening. However there is no need to fret or frown; as well as being known for history, culture and architecture, Rome is also famous for fabulous couture.

Shop windows started to display enticing fall fashions long ago, although there was probably little or no interest shown in September. However, by now youve at least taken a peek.

Rest assured, there are strategic ways to ease into autumn without taking the full plunge.

All summer clothes should be separated into two piles. One pile can contain items that are very brightly coloured and flimsy. These pieces clearly spell out summer, so store them away. The other pile should consist of the darker-coloured items that can be combined with certain fall ones. Happily wear tank tops and cover your shoulders and arms with a lightweight jacket, poncho or buttoned-down cardigan. Feet can in a sense remain bare by being slipped into a pair of loafer-type shoes without socks.

All things must come to an end and, unfortunately, the time will come when summer and autumn clothes can no longer be paired. This is the moment to shop, shop, shop. Shopping in Rome can be exciting because there are so many different styles to choose from. It can be depressing because its unlikely that you can buy everything that your heart desires.

Shops are filled with tons of things to die for or collections you just gotta have. But after a couple of purchases youll return home with empty pockets and purses. This is proof that you have exceded your allocated budget. Useful tips for shopping are now needed.

DO...

1 Window-shop before buying. Carry your trusty notepad to record items, prices and locations.

2 Purchase pieces before the weather actually changes. Dont get caught out shivering and freezing in the cold.

3 Try to resist the sales talk. Some sales assistants have the power to persuade shoppers that an item looks wonderful on them, when in fact it looks dreadful. You know yourself best, so confidently convey that its just not for you.

4 Wait for the big sale weeks in late January and early February to buy the really high-priced merchandise.

5 Buy accessories; they enhance and complete an outfit.

DONT...

1 Buy everything in one day or from just one store. Other people are just as reluctant to face the changing season so youll still find items later on in the season. Remember that Rome has many areas, so shop around.

2 Spend much money on anything overly trendy. Passion for fashion can convince a person to buy everything. Rather, realise that whats in today is out tomorrow. Instead, invest in classic pieces, which are basic in style and design. Classics are classics forever.theyre ageless.

3 Panic if something is displayed in the window one week and removed the next. Stores frequently alter the scenery to show their diverse collections.

4 Buy on impulse. Apprehension signals a sense of uncertainty. It pays to wait until youve thought it through.

Your curiosity is mounting about the craze in the fashion world of Rome. Relax, the research has been done for you. Shopping in Rome can be addictive and for someone who has been diagnosed as a shopaholic its difficult to resist. Admittedly it is a challenge to have to gather information for items without purchasing them and to exit stores empty handed; but it can be done.

The current rage for both men and women is jeans. Understand that not just any old pair of jeans will do. Last years jeans were flares and low-rise hip-huggers with a faded blue-jean look. This years jeans for women are a darker blue, beaded with sequins or slightly ripped but not completely torn. Mens jeans are big-legged and baggy.

Womens fashion also features long, short and A-lined skirts. Knickers, which are knee-length pants, are on the scene in plaid, tweed and corduroy. Knee-high boots in suede and leather and pointy-heeled and round-toed Minnie Mouse-style shoes have returned. Also new in the footwear department are cowboy-style boots. Skirts with matching jackets are on the rise. The last word on womens fashion is that the colour brown, which was a front-runner last season, is now taking a step back and that black is making a serious comeback.

The dress attire for men features suit jackets with two buttons instead of three, along with straight-legged pants. Black or pinstriped grey otter coats are in. Pounding the pavement once again this year is the two-toned lace-up sporty shoe and the black dress shoe. Caps that hug the head and multicoloured extra-long scarves are big. The usual dark colours for men are showered with bright splashes of colour adding a bit of pizzazz.

Observe la moda in high-priced designer stores along Via Condotti. Take notice of colours, cut and lengths. Keep these details in mind and then head to Via Frattina, Via Del Corso, Via Cola di Rienzo and Via Appia Nuova where there are similar items at lower prices. Depending on your need, your search could take half the morning or an entire day. Prices for skirts and pants can be as low as ?30. Shoes and boots cost ?60 upwards.

The report on the ins and outs of shopping in Rome has come to an end and you now have an idea of the new attire for autumn 2005. Hopefully you have been convinced to accept this new season gracefully . Although at the time of writing the temperatures have risen again and it may be tempting to unpack the stored summer gear, theres no turning back once youve fallen for fall.