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A pattern to staying in fashion

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By Janet Bennett Kelly
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Designers, notably Prada and Kenzo, went off on a tangent this fall. They eschewed the floral, abstract and animal prints that have been dominating fashion for several seasons in favor of geometric motifs. Head-to-toe pattern pantsuits paired with clashing accents made a loud statement. Reminiscent of the mod mid-to-late 1960s, they also brought to mind living-room upholstery. How to wear this trend without looking like a couch? Some choices and advice.

• Busy pants are not for everyone, particularly if you're short of stature and wide of hip. For the svelte, J. Crew's patterned brocade capris can update your wardrobe. Play it safe with a black sweater and pumps, or dare to pair them with a print shirt or knit top. If you do, stay within the same color family. $298 at

• Asos' check A-line wool-blend midi skirt will show off your gym-whittled waist. Pockets at the hip score practicality points with us. Lengthen your silhouette with a pair of mid-high-heel ankle boots, and balance the power of the checks and the width of the skirt with a slim-fitting denim shirt on top. $88 at

• A mix of wool, silk, nylon, cotton and spandex, these machine-washable sweater tights warm without overwhelming; the busiest part of the pattern outlines the legs instead of taking center stage. In any case, the art-deco design will punch up a dark-hued pencil skirt or subdue a red mini. Geo tights, $38 at Anthropologie stores and

• There's something refreshingly simple and clean-cut about a plate with intersecting lines. Use one from Global Table as a base, and layer other, more-complicated prints on it for increased tabletop interest. $16 at

Janet Bennett Kelly is a writer for The Washington Post.

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