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How to mix prints

Q. I loved your recent editorial piece on pattern mixing. I actually purchased the ASOS Irregular Striped Midi skirt (one of the featured items). I have not worn it yet because I was unsure what to pair it with but now I’d love to try it with a blouse in a contrasting print. Could you offer some suggestions?

A. Not only is this the perfect skirt to carry you over into fall, it’s also a great print to mix with other prints. Here are some tips to consider when mixing patterns:

1. Mix large prints with smaller prints. Since the skirt features a large graphic stripe print, it will pair easily with smaller prints.

2. Choose prints that match at least one color. The black in the skirt pairs well with a top that also includes black, especially as a background color.

3. Choose prints that are not similar to each other. The vertical stripe of the skirt should not be repeated in the top.

4. Prints that are not next to each other are easier to match. Since the skirt has an all-over print, it pairs easily with a top that only features a print on the upper half of it.

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Q. I’d like to know how old is too old to wear the bright, crayon colored skinny jeans that are so popular? I am 36 years old and a size 4. I really love the bright cobalt colored jeans and would like to buy a pair, however I don’t want to look like a cliche.

cobalt denim

A. In my opinion, you’re never too old to have fun with fashion — especially at 36 years old. Colorful jeans are a big trend this summer, carrying over into fall. If you love cobalt jeans, go for it! If you’re worried that they feel young, then pair them with more sophisticated pieces like a blazer and pumps or a cardigan and ankle boots.

Q. My budget is extremely limited, so I can only afford to add a few fall pieces to my closet. Can you recommend any items that will instantly update last year’s clothes?

A. The quickest way to update last year’s look is to add accessories that pack a punch. Take a cue from the lovely Emma Stone and add a bold, colorful pump to your fall look — it’s guaranteed to make last year’s jeans, dresses and trousers look fresh again. A small bag with a long chain handle strap and a tie-neck blouse are also two easy updates worth investing in. Another fun update is to layer a detachable collar under sweaters and shift dresses to give them a brand new look.

Here are some options to get you started:

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Q. I remember when I was in elementary school, everyone wore a sweater poncho and boots with jeans. This is great for camouflaging my Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas cookies. Can I wear my favorite fall trend again?

A. Judging by the multitude of sweater ponchos available now, it’s safe to say your childhood favorite is officially in style for fall. Here are some chic options at every price point:

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Q. I love your editorial pieces on the classics (especially when you give several options in each category to really help build the staples of a wardrobe). I noticed that you did a piece in 2009 and again in 2010 but not yet in 2011. I love your picks from the archives but all the items are sold out, understandably. With our economy, I think a lot of readers (not just me) would really appreciate another round of the timeless classics since they anchor a wardrobe and never go out of style - essential investment pieces.

A. I’m thrilled to hear that you found our classics series to be so helpful! To underscore the timelessness of a classic wardrobe, our top 10 list hasn’t changed from the list we featured 1 1/2 years ago (read here: The Classics: 10 Pieces for a Timeless Wardrobe). True that it’s time for an updated shopping selection, here are some pieces to add now to your wardrobe, and wear forever:

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1. Pencil Skirt


2. Blazer


3. Trench Coat


4. Cardigan


5. Feminine Blouse


6. Little Black Dress


7. Dark Jeans


8. Statement Necklace


9. Classic Pumps


10. 24 Hour Handbag

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