Spring style worth the spend

New year, new you? If resolutions for 2010 include hitting the refresh button on your personal style, let's start at Ground Zero -- your closet. Forge ahead with that diet and exercise plan, but if you're looking for a quick fix (and who isn't) let's talk tweaking.

For most of us, a brand new wardrobe isn't in the (credit) cards this year. Luckily, clever is the new cool and 2010's "it" girls will be the ones who know what clothes to keep and which new pieces to add. When even the First Lady is photographed wearing the same dress more than once, times have definitely changed. The trick is to make sure you look really, really good in that dress.

A mini-budget can have maximum impact when style-seekers know what's worth the money, and what isn't.

Fads: buy low. Remember leg warmers? Clothes that are the equivalent of a one night stand don't need to endure the test of time. Don't overspend for a fashionable flash-in-the-pan. Think fun, flirty, but not forever. 2010 fad alert: harem pants (don't say I didn't warn you), hair bows, jumpsuits, corsets, long vests, floppy "paper-bag" waists, 70's style "dolphin" shorts, and anything worn by Lady Ga Ga..

Love and money should be reserved for classic pieces that promise to live up to their price tag, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Except in cases of true investment dressing (i.e. Chanel suit or Valentino LBD) "til death" might be pushing it. These are the things to reach for when you want to feel the confidence that comes when clothes fit right and flatter perfectly. However, just because a piece is the strong, reliable type doesn't mean it has to be boring. Some clothes just ooze quality, and that can usually be attributed to good fabric, thoughtful details and workmanship. These are the items worth rescuing from a fire.

This spring, several trends promise to go the distance.

Go nude. Not in the Emperor's New Clothes sort of way, instead think: creamy beige, taupe, gray, ivory, tan, khaki, blush, navy, white, and black. Neutrals allow for tremendous versatility and they don't scream, "remember I wore this last Friday!"

Flesh-colored blouses, tanks and dresses look great layered with pale palettes or paired against dark, contrasting colors. A quality trench coat in a flattering neutral tone will be a closet classic for years to come. Similarly, neutrals make great layering pieces, while still providing a fresh look. Keep: the neutral, basic shapes you already own. Add: a new, short skirt, loose T-shirt dress, or long, chic cardigan.

Striking combinations of graphic black and white are also important this Spring. Worn in cool, optic or novelty prints, stripes, color-blocked patterns or simple, chic separates, it's hard to go wrong. Not impossible, just hard. Beware the checkerboard look, and remember that black makes things look smaller, white bigger, and wide, horizontal stripes should always be checked out in a three-way mirror. Bottom line, however, black and white is the ultimate classic combination and frugal fashionistas will be able to stretch these pieces well into the year ahead. Keep: your best black and white pieces. Add: a great new boyfriend blazer, short skirt or blouse in black or white.

Pretty lingerie details, such as ruffles, lace and sheer, floaty fabrics are feminine favorites that seem to return with the flowers each spring. This season is no different. Choosing pieces that flatter your personal style, girly items can celebrate a flirty personality or be paired with edgier pieces for a more complex look. Keep: ruffles and soft blouses you already love. Add: a strapless top or dress.

Ruffles rule. An easy, no-strings-attached way to add a little romance to your life this season, designers are having a fling with frills. A very pretty pick-me-up. Just remember, a little goes a long way -- unless you're six.

Skinny pants don't show any signs of slowing down, so if you already own them, keep them. For newness, add an uber-relaxed slouchy pant which riffs on menswear without the tailoring. Soft, loose, wide-leg pants look best low-waisted and flat across the hips. Beware the bloat, however, since many of the new styles also feature pleating and puffiness around the waist and hips (I have to ask: What were they thinking?). Not sure who wants to add the illusion of a fuller figure in that area, but it's not me and I'm guessing it's not you. When worn correctly, however, the slouchy look will be both cool and comfortable. Win-win. Throw on a pair of fabulous flats -- love!

Denim continues to reign as the all-American fabric, so keep your fave jeans, and think about adding a little chambray to the mix. Chambray is denim's light-weight cousin and is being made into soft dresses, skirts, trousers, easy blazers, jackets and of course, jeans for Spring. Not sure this will still be around same time next year, but it's light enough to enjoy in the summer months as well.

If you've got great legs, now is the time to flaunt your fabulous self. Short skirts were seen throughout all the designer collections and ranged from mini to above the knee. However, just because you can fit into a sky-high skirt length doesn't mean you should. Buyer beware. Remember girlfriends, there really is something to be said for leaving a few things to the imagination.

Optic prints, florals, and abstract patterns are going to be in all the stores this season, and they offer a strong solution for spicing up an existing wardrobe. Choose a print that coordinates with several pieces you already own and watch your options multiply. A splash of color has the power to transform old favorites like a breath of fresh air.

The best style, however, is always the one that looks good on you. It doesn't matter what is strutting down the catwalks of 7th Avenue if it makes a girl look like she lost a bet. Pay good money for clothes that accentuate the positive and are made to last. You'll have no regrets in the morning.
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