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RUNWAY WATCH

For the past week, New York City has been buzzing around the tents at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, where designers set the fashion barometer for spring 2010. Perhaps taking a cue from a rather somber economy and discriminating buyers, this year designers kept their heads about them and sent realistic looks down the runway. Structure - shoulders, cinched waist, full skirts - was big. Colors - citrus, chartreuse, aqua - were even bigger. Here are a few trends to watch for:

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Pick a pattern, any pattern

Toss rules like "no stripes with plaid" this spring and try out some unlikely pattern combinations. Marc Jacobs did, sending a menagerie of patterns down the catwalk, partnering unlikely shapes like hexagons with polka dots. A little iffy on where to start with this look? A good rule of thumb: keep colors in the same family and start simply. Think stripes with florals. Add a paisley clutch to take it up a notch.

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Statement maker: Jewelry

Forget the tiny pearl studs and thin bangles. This spring is all about chunky, clunky, large and in charge jewelry. Vera Wang sent models down the catwalk in major metal, wearing metal ropes of necklaces and heavy bracelets, like the one pictured, with elegant, lady-like dresses, providing an edgy but pretty contrast. If you're inclined to go bold in the jewelry department, go simple everywhere else. Think a T-shirt, jeans and simple heels. Use jewelry to turn heads.

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Give 'em the cold shoulder

When it comes to showing skin, shoulders are in. The asymmetrical silhouette graced many runways this year, including Michael Kors, who showed sophisticated asymmetrical cut-out dresses this year. A shoulder out says flirty, not floozie. Just make sure you've got the right undergarments. Opt for a convertible bra that accommodates the one shoulder look.

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