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It's time to pull a Nicole Richie and fly the bomber into new territory: cocktail hour. Paired with a satin dress and heels, and accented with dark tights and mixed metals, it's the perfect hard-soft combo.
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No longer relegated to spring or summer, a wispy floral dress now segues beautifully into autumn. Wear a thin layer under it and a cozy knit over it like Joy Bryant for a cool (and chill-proof) look. Be sure to match the sweater to a color in the pattern so you don't look like a flower child. And avoid anything bulky-the fit should be sleek, not sloppy.
Chiffon with lace trim dress, Kate Moss for Topshop, $145; topshop.com.
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If you haven't already call up a pair of olive cargos for active duty and send those blue jeans back to the reserves. Cargo pants like Victoria Beckham's are as comfy and easy to wear as denim, working equally well day or night. The current model is tapered and hits above the ankle for a flattering, slim fit. Dress them up with a black tuxedo blazer and platform pumps, and you've got yourself a stealth evening look.
Cotton pants, AG Adriano Goldschmied, $225; at agjeans.com.
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The new It item looks upscale but is totally accessible. Faux fur is almost as warm and light as the real thing, and it makes everything in your outfit a little more luxe. Layer under a coat to get a nonbulky boost of warmth or throw it on with jeans to add instant polish like Elle MacPherson.
Cotton and faux fur vest, Rebecca Taylor, $395; at shopbop.com.
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Nothing feels better in cold weather than a cozy knit. Instead of reaching for a solid, try something with a folksy spin like Rihanna. This Scottish sweater has a classic pattern, but its shape is far from traditional. Drape it over pants, or belt it over a skirt for a more pulled-together look.
Acrylic sweater, Kensie, $78; visit macys.com for stores.
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Animal prints can be worn as well with solids, like on Lily Allen, as they can with another print. If you pick the latter, be sure to choose a bold print that doesn't clash but instead adds contrast. Other was to avoid looking like you joined the circus? Stick to the same palette.
Cotton cardigan, Banana Republic, $70; visit bananarepublic for stores,
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Don't fear a flared skirt, the season's freshest silhouette. Pair it with a body-skimming silk blouse like Taylor Swift to offset the fullness and lend a relaxed air to the equation. Tie on a belt to define your waist.
Viscose-acetate skirt, Diane von Furstenberg, $245; call 646-486-4800.
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These these jackets have shed their shapeless, drab image. The new versions are tailored and can add edge to an otherwise prim evening look. Or throw on tights, booties like Michelle Williams for an outfit that's anything but standard-issue.