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Ditch boring apparel and go for color, pattern and bling this year

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Published Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at 1:10 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at 7:13 a.m.

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If adding a little more style and flair to your wardrobe is on your perpetual list and you just don’t know where to start, the answer is now.

Don’t buy another boring, humdrum practical article of clothing. You’ve got clothes. You could probably go years without running out of pants, dresses, skirts and tops that you could reasonably cobble together and feel sufficiently dressed for interacting with the general public. But who wants to be sufficiently dressed, adequately clothed or otherwise forgettably attired.

Here’s a suggestion: buy something unexpected.

Buy something that makes you smile and you don’t know why. Buy something fun. Whatever the occasion, take the opportunity to celebrate the new year in style.

A heavy stone necklace can add plenty of bling to a simple dress. And you can wear that necklace to the office under a jacket or out to brunch with a T-shirt and jeans. A dressy object can elevate a casual object without clashing. There’s a way to look relaxed and luxe that’s worth experimenting with.

Here are 10 things for men and women looking to class up their new year:

1. Eyewear. If you’re a guy or girl who doesn’t have perfect vision, now is your moment. Glasses are having a glorious resurgence, and it’s worth investing in a pair or two. If you’re a wearer of contacts, there’s even more reason to invest in a daring pair. Variations on cat-eye frames are really popular and styles mixing plastics and metal have the effect of wearing face jewelry. Go with a color; deep blues and greens are unexpected. If guys knew the secret combination of dark eye wear and a black turtleneck, the world would be a sexier place.

2. Jackets. Despite the staid closet staple that comes to mind when you hear the word “jacket,” that’s not what we’re referencing here. Skip the two- or three-button “oh, look, I can wear this to interviews” jacket. What you should look for is a shawl-collared or tuxedo-influenced version. Look for textured fabric, contrasting sleeves, motorcycle details, asymmetrical zips and a great fit. Wear this with your party dress and then wear it later with your jeans and skirts any day of the week.

3. Waxed denim. This could be a hard sell, but denim treatments are truly a treat to look at. You have the subtle sheen of leather but the comfort of Spandex and a variety of cuts to flatter your shape. Wear it with a shimmering top and heels for play and with a simple, solid button-down under a V-neck sweater for a casual day at the office.

4. Legwear. Life’s too short for nude hosiery. We don’t care what Kate Middleton does, there’s nothing that will make that sexy. Grab the pair that will make your legs the life of the party. No one can tell how pale you are and no one will notice if you’re in last year’s dress.

5. Watches and bracelets. Maybe it’s because we talk with our hands, but a little arm candy makes our hearts skip a beat. If you already have a staid everyday watch and a few metal bangles, now’s the time to crank it up. Look for a new watch with a larger face. This goes for guys as well. You can have too much bling, but something tells us that you’ll know it when you see it. A big classic, black, rose gold, gold or silver metal watch with a solid colored sweater and jeans is a great look to break in with your party clothes.

6. Bow ties. Every guy should have one, and every guy should learn to tie a real one. You aren’t necessarily going to be the quirky guy who wears them every day, but it’s a great look if you’re eager to surprise people with your newfound stylishness. After the New Year’s party, maybe you’ll wear one out to dinner or at a conference or … maybe just a Friday.

7. Pocket squares. If you have blazers, you need these. You don’t have to wear one every time, but in few instances it would be overkill. It’s a sensible splash of color that can be wild or subdued that won’t harm your manly man imagine in the least.

8. Clever plaids. Shirts, not pants. Plaid and checkered dress shirts are available in slim and traditional fits that show off some great color combinations. Dress them down with a solid blazer or suit or play them up with patterned tie in contrasting colors. It’s a great way to have a mix-and-match party wardrobe that can also work for business.

9. Colored pants. Gray is also a color, but we prefer the charcoal versions to the standard business gray. Mulberry and regal blues are also safe but much more exciting than khaki. Look for a soft wash on denims or wool. If every pair of pants you own is either a variation of sand or black, you’re missing out on the color spectrum. Paired with a blazer, pocket square and plaid shirt, a pair of colored pants and optional tie can take you from a night out to a business meeting.

10. Slim cardigans. Who says that a night out means jacket required. A dark fitted half-zip cardigan can enhance a patterned shirt and slacks. Add a tie and a jacket that you can remove once you arrive and you’ve got a great ensemble. Most guys will find this combination nearly impossible to mess up. And starting 2014 with a little style confidence may lead to some brave new ensembles in the year to come.

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