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Q. I’m 16 years old and live in Nebraska.  This is not exactly the fashion capital of the states, but I still like to be chic and stylish.  What can I do with a yellow, brushed cotton, just above the knee yet full, pleated skirt?

A. Your skirt is probably a little too “light” in fabric for cold winters in Nebraska, but once the temperature hits 60, you can start showing it off with bright tops to give the look rich contrast and tanks and short sleeves shirts with sandals when summer arrives.

I like pairing brights together:

Jeanne TopFree People Bunny Hill ThermalSeamed 3/4 Knit Top

1. Jeanne Top, $24.50 at
2.  Free People Bunny Hill Thermal, $29.99 at
3. Seamed 3/4 Knit Top, $35 at

When Spring/Summer hits, match the hues with a simple top underneath a cardigan:

Zip Front Logo CardiganDeep V-Neck Polo Cable Brushed Ruffle Henley
153890 Pmu WJulia Shirt Sequin Bow Back Racer Top

1. Zip Front Logo Cardigan, $98 at
2. Deep V-Neck Polo, $60 at
3. Cable Brushed Ruffle Henley, $29.99 at
4. Jasmine Butterfly Top , $22.50 at
5. Julia Shirt , $32.50 at
6. Sequin Bow Back Racer Top, $19.50 at

Q. I read with great interest almost all of the shoe related questions on your site. While I did learn a lot, thank you, I could not find the answer to my question. We are going to my Niece’s wedding in mid-January. I found a lovely burgundy, sweetheart neckline, velvet skirt suit. I just love it. I have a pair of black velvet pumps, but they just don’t look right. I’ve seen some burgundy suede wedges that I like and also black patent leather mid-heel pumps. Could you please  share your expertise on  shoe  color and material(s) that would go best with that burgundy skirt suit? 
- Shoe Stressed Aunt in Michigan

A. Velvet and velvet is too much velvet. And don’t get yourself stuck trying to match burgundy colors, feel free to play up a different burgundy hue. My suggestion would be a black or bronze heel with a satin, suede or patent leather fabric or perhaps something in a pattern with an added detail on the front of the shoe. Skip the wedge, if you plan to dance, wedges don’t allow a person to really strut their stuff.

SkirtQ. I recently bought the Backyard Garden Skirt from Anthropologie but I’m a bit unsure of what I can pair with it - both on top and on bottom.  Never before did I think that brown and black could go together, but I see that both colors are on this skirt.  Does this mean I can wear black shoes with it?  Can I wear tall black boots?  And would I wear opaque or sheer tights?  For the top, do I have to find a shirt that matches one of the colors on the skirt, or can it be a completely different color?  I’m kind of lost on this one!  Any advice you can give would be great.  Thank you so much for your fantastic column!

-Color Combo

A. There are multiple ways to wear this skirt since there are several colors in the pattern. You can certainly wear black or brown opaque tights with matching color boots or heels on your bottom half during winter months and come spring you can lighten up the look with bare legs and sandals. You can go classic with solid tops in any of the colors picked up from the skirt. You may even want to try a grey, black or brown top and grey patent leather heels. Or choose the peachy color to add brightness to the outfit. And if you are truly daring, choose a top with a subtle pattern from one of the skirt colors or choose a pale solid color like seafoam.

Leggings Over 40

Q. Are leggings still acceptable?  I am 40-something with quite a few dresses that I think are too short for someone my age to wear without pants or leggings.  Love the dresses, but not sure how to wear them.
-Leg Wear

A. Why do you own so many short dresses? Are they from several years ago when you felt more confident sporting a view of your legs above the knees?  It’s fine to wear leggings once in a while with dresses, but not as a routine. So keep only your absolute favorite short styles and donate the rest to consignment, a younger friend or a charity run thrift shop. And start buying dresses that don’t require leg coverage all the time.

Q. I recently bought a few shirts that could use a black sweater to go along with them, but I am having a difficult time tracking down one that is cute and affordable.
-Basic not Boring

A. A black sweater is a classic and every woman should own a turtleneck and a v-neck or cardigan. But the sweaters don’t have to be dull in shape or style. For a sweater to stand apart in your wardrobe, look for extra details like a puffed sleeve, buttons in non-standard places, 3/4 sleeves and embroidery. All these sweaters are under $100:

3/4-sleeve buttonless cardiganVintage Lace SweaterBoyfriend Cardigan Sweater Gitano® metallic shimmer cardigan

 Chunky Cotton Cardigan Lux Santa Cruz Cardigan
 Lux Santa Cruz CardiganNoemi Smocked Sweater Zq1507 001

1. 3/4-sleeve buttonless cardigan, $68 at
2. Vintage Lace Sweater , $34.50 at
3. Boyfriend Cardigan Sweater , $24.50 at
4. Gitano metallic shimmer cardigan, $36.99 at
5.  Chunky Cotton Cardigan, $88 at
6.  Lux Santa Cruz Cardigan, $48 at
7. Noemi Smocked Sweater , $29.50 at
8. Roundneck sweater, $39.50 at

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