Warm and sensible coats are a hot item for winter

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Q: I married a New Yorker and am moving to Manhattan in December. As I've lived all my life in Venezuela, I have no heavy clothes for the cold. What should be my first buy?

A: The best advice I can offer is from Milan designer Gianfranco Ferre. His fall collection was full of sensible but fashion-packed coats.

"After last winter, I feel women should have warm coats. I cut my storm coat long and full, yet romantic."

Under a coat like this you can layer. Wear a body suit, sweater and pantsuit. To complete the look, buy tractor-sole boots wide enough to tuck in your trousers and invest in a warm hat, gloves and muffler. It's a good idea to buy winter boots one size larger so you can wear socks for more protection.

Q: I've watched your show for years, and one thing that continues to amaze me is the different colors the designers combine. How do they do it? I'm retiring to Florida, and I feel I would look younger if I experimented more with color.

A: Designers choose the colors of their collections from the fabrics that they see each season. That's the first part of putting the collection together, and that's a part they love.

New Yorker Bill Blass is one of the great colorists, and here's what he has to say:

"Color is the most fascinating aspect of fashion. I try to mix the unexpected with a sense of spontaneity. Certain neutrals are always excellent foils for subtle color.

"So I play with my fabric swatches, trying different colors together to see what looks the freshest and most exciting. It's all a matter of experimentation."

And one final word of advice from the designer: "Always dare."

I've had very long hair since I was a child. Now that I'm 18, I can't bear to cut it, but I want to look more sophisticated when I go out at night.

Japanese stylist Ishi, who wears his own long hair in a ponytail, stresses that you don't need a cut to look sophisticated:

"Have your hair reshaped by cutting it with long layers. That way you can be more versatile in styling. Watch how the stylist brushes your hair and copy his movements. You'll soon be an expert."

One quick trick for sure sophistication: "Tie your hair back low on the nape of your neck and twist it into a small chignon. It'll add years."

While you are at it, buy some inexpensive hair ornaments and decorate your chignon. The latest trend is colored chopsticks pushed through at different angles.

Elsa Klensch is style editor for Cable News Network.

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