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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Look book - playing favorites

Throughout my fashion and style-related posts I mention the need for a "capsule" wardrobe - a core set of garments you can combine with lots of different things and create many different looks. Here are a few examples from my own closet that get a lot of wear due to their tremendous versatility.

Brown suede jacket

I should erect a monument to my friend Kimberly who gave me this jacket last Christmas - really! I don't get to wear it as much now that the weather is warm, but I practically lived in it all winter. The dark brown color combined with the "touchy" suede texture still creates a nice contrast with other colors, but without overwhelming them and killing all the subtlety as black would.

Here is the same jacket worn very casually with a t-shirt, khakis and trainers; with a long dress and flat boots; with dress slacks, an embroidered top and low-heeled dress shoes; and - for a dressier look - with a colorful little dress and high heels.

Dark brown pants

Don't get me wrong - I am not anti-black. I do have black slacks, black tops, black shoes and black dresses and I wear them often. However, my preference is to wear black with dark brown, shades of gray or black. When I want to do color and need a dark contrasting foundation to build upon - I go back to brown. So, dark brown slacks (both casual and dressy) are definitely a big wardrobe staple for me. Here are two outfits built around a pair of my favorite pants: a very casual, comfortable, and colorful look for running around; and a much softer and dressier outfit complete with jewelry, ruffles and high heels.

Little Black Dress

No closet would be complete without an LBD! That said - let us not forget that LBD's exist in many different shapes and cuts. It doesn't have to be a sheath! By the same token, there is also more than one shade of black: there are grayish blacks, brownish blacks, bluish blacks, even purplish or reddish blacks. Black silk doesn't look the same as black velvet - and between the two of them, they have nothing in common with black wool or tweed. So, do some homework to find the right black for you: shade, texture and cut.

My favorite LBD is a wraparound with little fluttery sleeves that disguise some of my chubby upper arms. Here it is worn two different ways: dressy - with classic black pumps and opulent jewelry; and much more casually with fishnets and boots.

Black slouchy boots

I adore boots. I have several pairs - black and brown, flat and heeled. Having big calves, I favor the pull-on style - for maximum comfort and minimum fuss. If you have been hiding your boots under pants, consider experimenting with skirts and dresses of different lengths as well as with fishnet and patterned tights for a playful glimpse between the hem of a shorter dress and the top of your boots. My trusty black slouchies from Target definitely served me well this winter: with jeans, with long dresses and with the shorter lengths as well.

Strappy peep-toes

While I do have the classic black pumps, interestingly enough, they are not my most versatile or most frequently-used shoes. No, that honor belongs to my two-tone strappy peep-toe shoes with stacked 2-1/2 inch heels from Target. The two-tone look makes them more interesting than just a basic beige shoe. The peep-toe design is playful and fun. The heels are sturdy, yet high enough to allow me to wear shorter lengths with them, because they visually slenderize and refine my legs. They go equally well with a contemporary dress, as well as with a more old-fashioned outfits with a nod to the roaring 20's.

As you reshuffle your closet, putting the winter duds back and bringing warm weather fashions to the front, identify those core favorites and find new fun ways to wear them.

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