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Dress up a dull fashion forecast with colorful accessories

December 03, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Fashion's sober look this season poses a few challenges.

First, there's a color palate of black, gray, white and other neutrals. Then there's a new silhouette that puts voluminous shirts on top of skinny, slim-legged trousers. And then there's the added emphasis on layering - with skin-tight leggings a la the 1980s among those layers.

How does one pull off such a look?

"It's pretty easy to do," said Kimberly Maiden, co-owner of SHE-town Divas boutique in Shepherdstown,W.Va.

Maiden recommends building from the fashion basics most women already own in neutral colors such as black, white or gray. Use trendy shoes - boots with round toes are current - and accessories, particularly those in teal, red or Kelly green, to punch up the look.

"Take a classic piece like a wrap dress - those will be in style for at least 20 years - put on some high boots and make it trendier," Maiden said.

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This season is much quieter compared to last season. Burnt orange, moss green and Moroccan blue were among the favored colors during New York Fashion Week for Fall 2005, according to information from Pantone Color Institute, which issues biannual forecasts on seasonal colors. The New Jersey-based company specializes in color products for graphic arts, textiles and plastics.

Pantone predicts that in spring 2007, shades of pink, golden apricot and tarragon green will evolve from the neutrals of fall and winter.

Department stores and moderately priced brands, such as Liz Claiborne, have been pushing simple, feminine looks this season.

Highlights of Macy's fall line include an emphasis on dark, Goth-like colors, neutrals and "minimalist" silhouettes. Macy's East officials say "must-have" items for fall include a black cowl-neck tunic sweater, "skinny" black denim jeans and a camel-colored cape.

According to a Liz Claiborne press release, the company's holiday collection is trying to convey a "relaxed, easy elegance" through contrasting textures, muted tones and quiet details such as sequins and chiffon.

Holiday marketing materials from Marshalls is encouraging women to get more mileage out of another fashion staple, the little black dress. Featured in its holiday press kit are four different takes on the same black, strapless, knee-length dress.

"It's really important that we women have a little black dress that you can pull out at a moment's notice because those office parties can creep up on you this time of year," said Amy Cafazzo, a style expert for Marshalls.

But to keep the dress from looking "done before," Cafazzo recommends adding things like belts - wide, skinny, embellished or otherwise - or adding a red accessory for a splash of color.

"Red is the hot exception to the rule," Cafazzo said, referring to this season's color palate.

Still, there are some trends that not everyone can pull off. Maiden said leggings inexplicably have risen in popularity this season. They have been a popular buy in her store for adults and teens, alike. Many put them under school-girl skirts or wear them with high boots, Maiden said.

"I'm not so sure I'm so excited about the leggings," she said. "You wait 10 years and everything comes back."

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