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Q. I have always been afraid of color.  After my mom passed away, I am feeling the need to incorporate some brighter colors into my life, as part of my ongoing personal makeover.   Almost all of my clothes are black.  My friends say that I would look nice in colors, but I’m not sure how and whether I should build a new wardrobe up from scratch.  How do I start building up from the basics again?
-Color Wary

A. There’s no need to start from scratch when all you need is to begin adding a few new pieces of bight color until you find the colors that work with your skin tone and elicit the most compliments.  And believe me, you always receive more compliments when you wear color.  Black might be safe and it can be classy and sophisticated, but rarely does someone say, “wow, you look like you’ve got a tan in that shade of black.” Or, ”you look so fresh and young in that black top.”

Begin by mixing a few colors in with your black pieces. You may need to try on many colors to find the right hues that work for you. I used to think yellow would wash me out and make my skin appear sallow, but I found a sunny color in two tops this past summer that were a hit.  I couldn’t wear them enough before the cooler temps hit. So don’t be shy, grab some sweaters and head to the dressing room.  Start with a v-neck sweater that can be worn alone or under a fitted jacket and a bold colored jacket in a classic cut.

72258_bl8181This cashmere cable
v-neck comes in
many wearable colors
$148 at


A red coat looks
great with the
black pieces
already in your

Stand Collar Jacket
$148 at

Q. My husband and I are also traveling to NYC in mid November. My favorite color is pink so most of my wardrobe - boots, etc. - are pink. Is this color okay for New York during this time of year?

A. Hey, pink is one of my favorite colors too.  If it looks good and you love it, then obviously it lifts your mood.  And a smile is sometimes your best accessory.  Whether it’s flirty and fun or sassy and sophisticated just be sure you’re not head to toe in various tones of pink which can clash.

Q. My daughter and I are traveling to New York in mid-November.  I just wanted to know if it is already cold enough to bring a coat, hat, gloves, etc. and is wearing mostly black still ok?
—Clueless in California

A. Definitely pack your coat, hat and gloves.  It always seems to turn into jacket/coat weather by Oct. 30th.  You may be able to leave the hat in the hotel, but it’s always good to be prepared.  And if you hadn’t heard, black is back this season and in New York black is NEVER out of style.   Black is chic, simple, hides a myriad of flaws and easily disguises your tourist status.

Q. I am looking for some advice on what to pair with a fitted blue jean jacket. Is it ok to wear it with blue jeans? I remember hearing my sons joke about that combination as being the "Canadian tuxedo". Jacket time is here.  Can you help?
—Jeans with Jeans

V0473030378638_v1_m56577569831130802A. I’m used to seeing the jean jacket and jeans combination on true cowboys and cowgirls on trips out west to places like Wyoming and Montana. It’s a sexy rugged look that works for them. But if you’re not one of them, then I’d suggest finding a stylish alternative.  And nowadays just about anything works with a fitted jean jacket from corduroys to trendy gauchos and shortened pants to a-line skirts and western or bohemian style skirts.  Magazines have even shown jean jackets with ball gown skirts.  I have always loved the classic look of model Lauren Hutton who has always looked fantastic in khakis, a white button shirt and a well worn jean jacket. It’s just a matter of dressing head to toe and then pulling on your jacket to see if you feel comfortable. And sometimes it’s a matter of the color of the denim.

shown left: Elie Tahari Eugenia Denim Jacket paired with a full skirt and boots, from

Q. I bought a black pantsuit at the end of the season last winter which consists of a longer, three-quarter length jacket and matching boot-cut pants.  I have never owned a suit with a three-quarter length jacket before, so I was curious as to (1) whether or not it is a stylish option for fall, and if so (2) is there a "right" way to wear the jacket?  I am not sure if I should leave it open, or button any of the four buttons, etc.  Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
—Right Way or Wrong Way

11310A. There will always be a long list of standard options in suits from short jackets to long jackets, dress suits with matching jackets, double or single-breasted jackets and then choices of pants and skirts. What makes a suit stylish is the fit on your body and how you complete the look from the top to the accessories.  The jacket needs to fit you well and not be oversized or boxy, especially if you are petite since a longer jacket could make you seem even shorter. As for the buttons, it depends—if you’re trying to achieve a more fitted or conservative look then button 2-3 and leave the bottom one undone. Try to avoid the easy choice of a white shirt, choose a color or a patterned shirt or wear a knit top that isn’t bulky.  And you could jazz it up with bigger style jewelry or an Hermes or Hermes-like scarf at the neck. It’s always better to keep the attention towards your top half to create the illusion of height with a longer jacket.

shown right: a classic and more conservative way to wear it, from

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