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Fashion's Spring Break

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It's time to take a break and spring into action. The arrival of a new season is the perfect time to reinvent your wardrobe. Before you head to the mall, shop in your closet first. Here are some tips to freshen up your basics:

—Get organized. First, start by reorganizing your closet. Don't just shove your old clothes aside when you add some new spring and summer things. You need to be able to see what you have in plain sight. When clothes are crammed together or shoes piled high in a jumble, it's easy to miss what you already have. Don't be afraid to give your closet a makeover when you're sprucing up your wardrobe. It may require a trip to the hardware store or the paint store ... as well as to the local Goodwill store. One of the best things I have ever done to my closet is to change out the wire hangers for all black velvet ones. No more hanger marks!

—Think separates. There are lots of ways to reinvent the old basics. If you have a lot of suits in your closet, you have a lot of options for your wear-to-work wardrobe. It doesn't have to be boring. Swap your normal white button-down shirt for a bright blouse with ruffles. Tops with sheer overlays are a hot trend this spring and the perfect way to cool off a basic pair of trousers in the warmer months.

—Get graphic. If your closet is full of solid neutrals, then it's time to add some bold prints — another spring and summer fashion trend. The abstract florals and animal prints will instantly give your wardrobe a break from the boredom of basics. Try one eye-popping print at a time to punch up your other clothes. Remember to keep your prints in proportion! If you're a tall person, you can get away with wearing a larger print; petite women should stick to smaller prints that won't overwhelm them.

—Play stylist. We may not always have time in the morning to stand in our closets and put together a fantastic outfit.

I mean, really. So think about having your own styling session on a lazy weekend. Just set aside 30 minutes or so and play in your closet, experimenting with different combinations. If I find an outfit I like in a fashion magazine, I often will try to recreate it in my own closet. Some professionals actually advise taking photos of outfits and making a "visual" board for future reference. However, I never seem to have the time to go to this much trouble, so I just take a "visual tour" of my clothes — which I have arranged by color — and then mix and match separates and hang them together to wear the next week. This seems to work a week or two at a time, when I know my schedule and can plan in advance.

—Get Funky. One of the best ways to reinvent your wardrobe is to think outside the fashion closet. Think unexpected combinations and special pieces. It can be layering a sheer poncho cover-up over a pair of jeans or one pair of incredibly glamorous shoes ... or a huge, floppy hat. Statement jewelry — especially a striking one-of-a-kind vintage piece — can give you an unforgettable style personality. Get outside your regular "go-to" uniform and be daring.

—Add color. Let your wardrobe blossom with color this spring. Tangerine coral may be "the" color of the season, but there are lots of other vibrant ways to inject some boldness into your dark-colored basics. Accent your favorite white or black classics with a bold color. From pastels to brights, there's a hue for you. And don't worry about "matching" your colors exactly. Odd color combos are the new way to cool off this season.

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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