Gunn Laws: How to Dress Beyond Black

The Project Runway style guru answers your questions on how to add a little color to your wardrobe.

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Make Room for Some Color

Q: I recently moved from New York City to the South. All my clothes are black! What kinds of casual tops should I look for this summer? I wear a uniform to work and jeans with flat shoes on my days off, but I want to make things more interesting.

A: I'm glad that you are acknowledging the limitations of black apparel and have a desire for more pizzazz in your wardrobe. Happily, the 2010 spring/summer season is chock-full of interesting options for tops, with embellishment being one of the key factors. There are tops with pleating, ruffles, scalloped petals, sequins, or stones; the styles range from camisoles to wraps; and prints are in abundance. Since there is something out there for everyone, there is no need to betray who you are. Find items that resonate with you and wear them with joy and aplomb!

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When to Splurge on Shoes

Q: I'm on a shoe budget and want to make a good fashion investment for the season. I am obsessed with Tory Burch's orange espadrilles, but how practical are orange shoes? Is it a good color choice for summer 2010?

A: The mere fact that Tory Burch has an espadrille in orange says enough. It's an on-trend color for spring/summer, it's available to you, and therefore you can do as much as you want with it. It doesn't matter whether that item of footwear or that color becomes pervasive this season. Wear the espadrilles and select the appropriate apparel to go with them — and do it all with confidence. If you're not a follower, then be a leader and lead with pride and assuredness.

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High Heels at the Office?

Q: I love heels — the taller, the better! But sometimes I have trouble determining what's appropriate for work. Can shoes be too sexy for the office?

A: In the case of your question, my answer would be greatly informed by knowing your line of work and your lifestyle. In the absence of that information, I suggest that you examine the footwear of your coworkers and ask yourself what their perception of a stylish stiletto would be. Would you be the company's fashion star or the resident trollop? And it's also a matter of how you wear your apparel with the heels. Skirt hems should be no higher than a few inches above your kneecaps and no longer than the bottom of your knees. With tops, décolletage should be no more than moderate. Keep in mind, there's a big difference between sexy and vulgar.

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