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Pyramid power comes to wardrobe

Fall wardrobes are on our minds now, so I thought I would offer a few suggestions on coordinating one. We all want a balanced, serviceable wardrobe. Every garment we make or buy is meant to be a building block to an already existing wardrobe. But all too often we find that the new addition requires a new blouse or jacket or shoes before we can wear it. The "wardrobe pyramid" is a tool I devised more than 10 years ago to help women prevent this mistake. Follow this concept and every new garment, properly chosen, will expand your workable wardrobe.

Any wardrobe should be built around three colors. If you have ever attended a designer's showing of his complete season's offering, you will notice there is always a print in the show that has three colors in it. These three colors are then used to build the entire offering. The print will have a dark color (which is the dressy color), a neutral color (the basic color) and a high-fashion color.

An example of such a combination might be navy, camel and fuchsia. If you look closely, you will find that a print or plaid always holds the color key to an entire wardrobe. Even a soft tweed, upon examination, will reveal three colors upon which a wardrobe can be built.

With your pivot fabric (containing your three colors) selected, you are ready to build around it. The wardrobe illustrated is divided into three sections: casual, afternoon/evening and dressy. It is a typical wardrobe that I might use. I begin by putting my pivot fabric, a silk print, into a blouse and skirt. They can be worn separately or together to make a dress.

Next, I take the dark color and put it in the jacket and coat. I use the dark color rather than the lighter color in the coat because I have just one in the pyramid and dark colors dress up easier. (I have a car coat to run errands in that I did not include in this pyramid.) The jacket, you notice, is shorter and without pockets, again so it can be dressed up.

The blazer is in a color that goes with the lighter neutral. It has patch pockets, limiting it to more casual wear, but that is all right because I have the dressy darker jacket ready to use.

The blouses in the pyramid are basic and versatile. None has "stands" in its collar or tabs down the front because these styles are strictly sporty. When selecting your blouses, because they are used so often, stay with colors in the pyramid (your wardrobe core) and styles that can lead two lives _ casual or dressy.

Pants can be substituted for any of the skirts, depending upon your lifestyle. But notice that none of the skirts has pockets on the outside. This is because outside pockets would dictate the length of jacket/blazer that could be worn over the pants. Keep all skirt or pants pockets of a wardrobe pyramid in the side seams.

The combinations of outfits found in this pyramid are many. Every blouse can be worn with every skirt. Both the jacket and the blazer will go over all the skirts except the dressy skirt. And if a trouser-pleated pair of navy wool crepe slacks is substituted for the long skirt, both jackets would look good with it also.

The concept behind my pyramid is well worth learning. It is not meant to be an entire wardrobe, but with a pyramid in place in your closet, you will never be at a loss for something to wear. If you keep your three colors in mind, as well as the textures you like to wear, every garment you make in the future will fit easily within your pyramid. Now you can safely spend money on sweaters, scarves and other accessories, knowing they will be as versatile as your other clothing.

Keep control of your wardrobe foundation _ that is where most of your wardrobe dollars should be spent.

Questions may be addressed to: Sew What's New, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, 4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112.

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