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EVEN IF you never learned to figure the footage of an area rug, the colorful shapes in this fall's retail racks will convince you that geometry is your strong suit.

The brights have been seen for several seasons, but pieced and patched designs in unconventional combinations are a fresh twist.

This punch of color is just the shot in the arm -- or shoulder or collar -- fashion needs to brighten the dressing picture in these budget-conscious times.

"Color is a gift and doesn't need to carry an astronomical price tag," says Aniko Gaal Schott. "Color blocking can be found in cashmere or cotton, couture or bargain counter. It needs a receptive attitude, and a willingness to play."

Here we show two looks of many colors. At right, a sculpted suit with back interest by Kathryn Dianos retails for $580. At left, a color-block blazer ($140) and black stirrup pants ($46) are both by Cignal. The price points are different but the message is similar -- there are many formulas for working out a clothes budget and finding a fashionable equation.

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