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Need a fall wardrobe update? Add some color to your basic black clothes

Black is getting some competition from brown and navy as go-to neutrals this fall. But what if your wardrobe is already filled with black pants, jackets, leggings, tops, dresses and shoes – all in good shape?

You can still freshen up your look for the cold months ahead by adding some new colors to your existing wardrobe: bright blue, soft pink, cabernet, lilac, hot pink and, of course, red.

“Shades of red are so big this fall,” said Julie DeLoreto, manager of Leelee, 5444 Main St., Williamsville. A crimson dress may be the ticket to giving a second life to your favorite black strappy heels, for example.

There also is a ton of burgundy, maroon and wine – all of which pair nicely with black, DeLoreto said.

And if you do by chance want to branch out from black, those colors work well with navy, too, she added.

As for other good pairings with black, look for shades ranging from soft pastels to hot brights. This is in addition to more neutral colors such as gray, camel, ivory and warm browns – tried-and-true favorites to partner with black.

“It’s not such a dull palette this year. It’s more inviting,” DeLoreto said.

Here are five suggestions:

• Bright blue. Fans of cobalt know how well it pairs with black, but there are variations as well. Lands’ End offers a Cool Blue leopard-print lightweight down A-line coat that one reviewer called, simply, “fun.” Loft brightens up black with a jolt of Sonic Blue. Coldwater Creek shows many shades of blue including Lagoon and Aspen. Banana Republic’s Royal Blue sweaters are real pick-me-ups – and the sweaters come in other brights, too.

Soft pink. The shade that Pantone calls Ballet Slipper is not one that many women normally associate with fall. But it’s a popular combination with black this time around. Picture a bomber jacket in soft Sunset Rose over a black jumpsuit or pants (Old Navy). Soft pink crushed velvet pants (k/lab from Kohl’s) with your favorite black top or blazer. Or a jet black tweed long cardigan sweater (also from k/lab) layered over two-tone jeans and light pink sneakers.

• Hot pink. From ruffled blouses and V-neck sweaters to wool coats and quilted vests, vivid pink will lift one’s spirits and surely bring compliments on dreary days. In its Fall Preview Lookbook, Talbots ( shows its hot pink coat with ruffle-front detail paired with an ivory/indigo blue striped boat-neck top, black pants and black suede lace-up pumps. Hot pink also shows up in its fall collection in cashmere sweaters, driving flats and ribbed turtlenecks. Winter Fuchsia is another bright pink option from Talbots.

• Wine colors. As DeLoreto pointed out, these colors are a big trend this fall. The Lord and Taylor website shows black pants topped with a merlot wool-blend coat trimmed in black fringe from the Karl Lagerfeld Paris collection. White House/Black Market has a similar shade called cabernet that’s a great match for black. And straight from the Marc Jacobs’ fall runway: burgundy track pants worn with a black blouse.

• Lilac. Like soft pink, lilac may not be the color that comes to mind for cold-weather dressing. To help change your mind, Talbots offers a shade called Winter Lilac in its holiday collection. A Winter Lilac coat is shown layered over a matching lilac pullover sweater and a checked black skirt. Other purple options that pair well with black include Amethyst and Thistle (Coldwater Creek), Smokey Purple (Loft) and Neon Violet (Banana Republic).

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