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Five ways to wear it

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Avoiding a fashion rut can be challenging, especially when you purchase a signature piece outside of your normal repertoire. This could be a jacket in a nontraditional cut or a pair of trousers in one of the bright, new seasonal colors.

It is easy to walk into a store and buy a pre-assembled look, carefully styled by a salesclerk on a mannequin to match a ubiquitous look sent down from headquarters.

The challenge comes in how to work that piece into your regular wardrobe when you get home. Do you leave it as a one-outfit wonder, or do you try to get your money's worth by working the piece into your regular rotation?

Everyone knows how to make a pair of black slacks work in several different looks, but lots of people become stymied when the wardrobe piece is outside of their standard core look. That leaves many great pieces of clothing relegated to the monotony of only one look.

This week, the WV Style Team has taken on the challenge of helping women break out of the fashion box. With one piece, five women -- and the patient staff of South Charleston's Target store -- set out on a mission: Take one of this season's hot new jackets and make it work on five women with very different tastes and distinct body types.

The piece chosen was Xhilaration's blood-red faux leather jacket, $39.99 at Target. The goal was to build an outfit from the ground up that incorporated the jacket and reflected each person's personal style.

Here's how five members of the WV Style Team chose to wear the Xhilaration jacket.

First up, Jen Wood Cunningham. Jen called her look "fiercely casual." She dressed up the jacket with a pair of skinny, printed jeans and a pair of bright mustard-color heels from the clearance rack at Target.

Jen said, "This look is a bit pricey if you purchase all of the items at once. But I might purchase the jacket and jeans with the clearance shoes in one trip, and pair it with a camisole and jewelry that I have at home. If you already own a great fall-color bag, you wouldn't need the yellow cross-body purse. It is great to buy things in phases and/or pair them with things you already have in your closet."

Next, let's look at Morgan Robinson's look. She is a guest contributor on the WV Style Team blog and writes her own blog, Charming Charleston.

Morgan dubbed her look "hipster," and said it is a great transitional look that could function in many settings. Whether going on a date, heading to a football game or just running errands, this look can take you anywhere.

About her choices, Morgan said, "The long cardigan can be worn dressed up or down, and the length makes it totally acceptable to pair with dark brown leggings and boots for an even more comfortable outfit. The cross-body bag is large enough to serve as a carryall for fall, but lightweight enough that it won't hurt your shoulder after a day of cider sipping or shopping!"

WV Style Team contributor Dennise Smith took the jacket in a dressier direction with an outfit that could easily transition from the office to an evening out.

Dennise said, "My goal was to find an outfit that was comfy but kind of rock 'n' roll. I chose a basic black camisole so these chunky layered necklaces could share center stage with the skirt. Since the color scheme was very neutral, I chose the cherry-red pumps and teal handbag for pops of color."

Sarah Francke, Style Team contributor and our on-the-spot photographer, chose an outfit based on comfort and style. Her look is perfect for a night on the town.

Skinny black trousers and spiky shoes make for an edgy club look. However, the look is still tame enough to swing by cocktail hour and meet up with your officemates. A switch to ballet flats would even allow you to run a few quick errands at the mall.

I chose my look based on comfort, functionality and my own, slightly hippie, sense of style. Like all the members of the team, I started with the jacket and perused the racks of Target looking for inspiration.

I encourage you always to think outside the box. I happened upon an adorable Liz Lange maxi dress in the maternity section! Paired with a belt and sweater, it becomes flattering and sleek. Don't limit yourself. Look everywhere for things you like -- kids', women's, maternity, men's. The sky -- and your imagination -- are your only limits.

To see additional looks put together by WV Style Team members, visit the blog at www.wvstyleteam.com. Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopkins@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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