Updating your wardrobe

How would you like to update last year's fall wardrobe with a single item that costs as little as $2.95? You can, if you take the advice of a fashion designer. ``A pair of textured hose will work magic. They're available in wonderful colors for daytime,'' says Boston's Alfred Fiandaca. ``And there's black lace for evening.''

According to Fiandaca, you can update even more if you're handy with a needle. He suggests shortening the hemlines of some of the straight skirts in your closet to just covering the kneecap. If you're fortunate enough to have a sizable hem on your flared skirts, lengthen them to midcalf. (If the skirts are investment pieces -- expensive -- think twice before tampering with ALL of them. These hemlines may not stay in style long.)

Other designers have other hints for making last year's leftovers take on new sparkle. Some items can be costly, but affordable copies are usually available.

Bill Blass suggests a new blouse. ``An important blouse makes good sense. It'll give a new look to last year's suits and pantsuits,'' he says. ``The blouse is special when done in charmeuse or satin. It doesn't matter whether it's a solid or print. But it should have interesting treatment at the neckline.''

An evening jacket is Geoffrey Beene's choice. ``I think an evening jacket that's waist or fingertip length is a good idea. This type of jacket in panne velvet, for example, can be worn with the short or long dresses you already own,'' he says. ``A daytime jacket in the same proportions in a melton is also a thought.''

Many of the best-dressed women have long believed in jacket dressing. It's cheaper than buying an entire ensemble, yet the overall effect is similar.

One well-dressed woman says she adds jackets to her wardrobe annually. She wears the evening ones with a black silk camisole and matching pants that she's owned for years. And she teams the daytime jackets with solid-colored wool dresses she's collected. ``Everyone thinks I have a huge wardrobe,'' she says. ``But I haven't -- it's all done with jackets.''

Carmelo Pomodoro, who designs under the Betty Hanson label, suggests: ``Make it a sweater vest in a new needlepoint-like fabric. These vests are taken from antique tapestries and done in a floral mix of ginger, spice, forest green. . . . When you add one of these vests to your skirts, dresses, or pants -- you suddenly have a new outfit.''

If your budget permits a second update item, Pomodoro suggests pants. ``A new, slim pair with a tapered leg -- with or without stirrups -- is a great addition. And if they're in navy, they'll go with many things.''

Pauline Trig`ere believes a new suit is the answer to a tired wardrobe.

``To be safe, a woman should buy one in black,'' she says. ``She can wear it to work with a simple, washable shirt and then change to a beautiful blouse of silk for evening. Or she can add some jewelry and start playing with the outfit -- this is a beginning.''

Trig`ere is quick to point out that she sees nothing wrong with wearing last year's dress -- or things that go back years and years. She says she has a black mohair cape, for instance, that's more than 10 years old. ``You don't throw out an old couch, do you?''

Alexis Kirk's advice for updating is to buy an item that's significant looking. In other words, it must be noticed.

``A small ring or a necklace won't be noticed. But a belt that looks like a piece of jewelry with stones of collector quality will be,'' he says. ``A belt will totally update and make clothes look newer.''

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