Balmain - Runway RTW - Fall 2015 - Paris Fashion Week
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Having a consistent style is great in some ways—it shows that you know who you are. But occasionally it’s good to step out of your comfort zone, say with a sexy shoe, like the Balmain style above. I did this last spring when I received a gift certificate to an online store I don’t normally visit. The only thing I could even imagine wearing was a loose tunic-like dress with half-sleeves, but it was only available in emerald green. I’m not big on color to begin with, but a bright tone would never be my first choice. I thought I might wear it to one of those occasions that I’m not usually prepared for, like a suburban baby shower or Easter brunch, when my typical black, gray, ivory, navy palette might seem a little too subdued. To my surprise, I have worn this dress a lot and always receive compliments when I do.

So here’s a list of some current styles that may seem a bit challenging to women of a certain age, but they are certainly worth a try.

1. A seriously sexy shoe

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A sexy shoe can totally transform a tailored suit or demure dress into something much more compelling. If you find a narrow heel hard to walk in, look for one with a stacked heel instead.

Aquazzura, $565;

2. Leopard print

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Leopard print may seem a little oh-là-là at first glance, but when they shape isn’t overtly sexy, it can feel quite refined. A leopard print mini? No way! A leopard print pencil skirt to the knee? Why not? Wear it with a turtleneck sweater or a blazer and a classic pointy pump.

Altuzarra, $895;

3. Culottes

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The word “culotte” makes me cringe. It reminds me of bad fashion from junior high. But if you think of this as a “split skirt” or “wide cropped pants,” maybe you can get past any reservations. Your shoe is key. A heel helps offset the width—or a tall boot in the same color creates a longer leg.

Zara, $40;

4. Sneakers

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Trendy sneakers may say "teenager" at first glance, but if your workout wear is subdued like mine is, then this can be a fun update that will put a little spring in your step.

Adidas x Mary Katrantzou, $140;

5. Jumpsuit

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Jumpsuits are suddenly everywhere and the trend is continuing into fall/winter, but not all jumpsuits are created equal. Look for ones that resemble a shirt and pants as opposed to a “onesie” or overalls. Solid colors are easier to pull off than prints, too.

Vince, $428;

6. Quirky handbags

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I’m not usually a fan of phrases on clothes and accessories, but Anya Hindmarch has managed to change my mind. This tote makes me smile and stop to smell the roses … at least, on occasion.

Anya Hindmarch, $1,550;

7. Leather pants

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Leather pants are a stretch—in this case, literally. Only the front is leather and these offer more structure than a legging. I would only wear them with a tunic-length sweater, top, or a long jacket, but they can definitely up your cool factor.

J. Crew, $398;

T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” These are small risks to take.