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Mad hatters

The hat that Aretha Franklin wore during last month's inauguration seems almost tame compared to what's been spotted on the runways recently.

In Paris, during the recent haute couture shows, Spanish fashion designer Josep Font's models' head gear included a model of a white ship wrapped in transparent fabric; a human figure sitting on spheres; and another topper consisting of a white guitar and stars.

In Berlin, design duo Constanze G. Gonzalez and Paul Scherer went more "natural" with twigs, flowers, leaves and, oh, all sorts of things shooting out here and there above the models' heads.

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Fashion tip

Here is a tip from longtime British fashion writer Lucia van der Post:

"Learn what you can economize on. Personally, I think chain stores do great plain, classic pants, but it's probably worth spending a little more on a sassier jacket to bring them to life. Try to have one pair of really great shoes and one fabulous handbag, as that'll make everything else look classier. Really cheap shoes and bags are the biggest giveaway of all."

This comes from her book "Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me" (Da Capo Press, $25).

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Wrist watching

What's one way to update your existing spring wardrobe? Add some bangles.

While there are those who will argue that their favorite arm-load of bangles never went out of style, chunky bracelets are looking pretty fresh in magazines and on runways.

But remember: While wearing bangles in multiples can look great, don't overdo it with your other accessories.

Piling on bangles plus chunky necklaces plus oversized earrings is a bit much.

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Behind closed doors

Closet cluttered? The March issue of ShopSmart magazine, a publication of Consumer Reports, offers some interesting survey results on what may be contributing to the problem.

According to more than 1,000 women surveyed nationally:

*51 percent of women cling to clothing they haven't worn in three or more years.

*64 percent find the stuff they no longer wear hard to get rid of because they think they might need it someday.

*60 percent hold on to clothes that don't fit because they might lose or gain back the weight.

*58 percent have clothes hanging in their closets with the tags still on them.

*32 percent have too many T-shirts.

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And finally ...

"Of course I'm aware of the credit crunch, but it is not a creative crunch."

- Fashion designer John Galliano to the Associated Press, regarding his flamboyant spring-summer Dior haute couture collection in Paris

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