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Looking stylish doesn't necessarily mean having a lot of clothes. Tips from a fashion consultant for adding life to last year's basics

``A little bit of whimsy can update last year's basics to present today's message,'' says Sacramento-based fashion consultant Nancy K. Elorduy (pronounced El-ord-wee). ``Accessories can change the mood and character of an outfit. They add individuality to the often-seen and the old-familiar. And they offer simple ways to add variety to a minimum wardrobe. ``Looking fashionable doesn't necessarily mean having a lot of clothes,'' says Mrs. Elorduy, whose own upbringing stressed quality over quantity.

``I was one of seven children, and there wasn't a lot of money for clothes, so we had to use our imaginations to individualize our hand-me-downs and make them our own.''

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After her marriage to a Sacramento probation officer, Mrs. Elorduy decided to use her talents to help others find these shortcuts to style. So she packs up a smashing, seasonable wardrobe of her own designs, a minimum of basics with a maximum of extras, and travels wherever bidden.

In front of mixed (male and female) audiences, she makes up to 35 wardrobe changes with less loss of modesty than wearing a bikini. She is model, commentator, and stage crew all in one. Her commentary educates while her actions illustrate in this quick-change show.

For spring '85, her commentary advocates such hints as using ropes and ropes of pearls, interspersed with gold chains; taking your most colorful scarf and tying it around your neck for a dickey under a suit, or wrapping it around your waist for a sash; adding a small collar to your plain neck blouse; adding a crest to the pocket of a blazer; carrying a smaller-than-usual handbag; not going overboard with pale colored hosiery, and being wary about textured stockings that may be too heavy looking with spring's outfits; adding a brightly colored print dickey to spruce up last year's suit.

Here she might digress a moment to illustrate her own original version of what could be a jabot, dickey, or halter. It's a one-size-fits-all, cut in a one-piece pattern that can be made in an hour or two. It covers the shoulders, culminating in two wide front ties that she wraps around for a high-necked effect, laps loosely to hang over a suit jacket, or ties in a big bow. (To order pattern see below.)

Mrs. Elorduy's presentation also includes a list of what she considers essential wardrobe pieces for the coming season. This season's list includes:

Skirts. Long or short, proportion is the key here, not the dictates of any one designer. ``We are past the age of dictation,'' Mrs. Elorduy says. ``Women have been dictated to regarding skirt length for so long, it's time to learn for ourselves what is right for us.'' A sarong-type skirt looks newest for spring.

Tailored shirts. Loose and long camp shirts that can be belted or not, to top skirts, slacks, or bathing suits.

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Dresses. Soft, relaxed lines in prints, and big, bold floral and abstract prints often combined with each other.

Dressy blouses. Preferably collarless to form a background for accessories like a small collar, pearls, or other jewelry. Here, the explosion in prints needs caution. Taking a blouse with white background and red and black flowers, for example, you'd want to pick up maybe the red and white in a striped skirt for contrast and then pull them together with a wide belt in black or red. ``It's important to pick up two of the same colors, not just one,'' says Mrs. Elorduy.

Coats. Unlined, duster types or ones that form part of an ensemble with matching skirt or dress.

Jackets. Blazer-type, also unlined; should be somewhat elongated.

Pants. Pleated and full, possibly with no front crease. ``Buy the shorter-length pants only if they're on sale,'' this consultant advises, because they may be just fads. ``I expect a four- to seven-year life span for all major investments,'' she says. To help shop wisely for basics as well as such transient fads, Mrs. Elorduy presents a special calendar of Good Buys and Buying Times, showing the months when the best selections are to be made and when specific items usually go on sale. (See sidebar.)

The pattern for the original jabot/dickey can be ordered by sending $15 to Nancy K. Elorduy & Associates, 9136 Dupont Way, Sacramento, Calif. 95826.

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