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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.)

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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.''

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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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