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Make what's already in your closet work

New Year's fashion: A few key pieces can spruce up the clothes you have.
/ Source: TODAY

The shortest route to making changes on the inside is getting a new look on the outside. But who wants to go to the all the trouble and expense of buying a whole new wardrobe?TODAY fashion expert Constance C.R. White has a better route: Pull out what you already have in your closet and with a few key purchases, build a new look around them.

Start by looking for staples. There are two kinds of staples in any wardrobe – classics and fashion basics. Black was a cornerstone of fall fashion and the typical temperate-zone dweller has a passel of black clothes. Leggings are another fashion staple ready to be jazzed up. Classics include the lowly turtleneck, blue denim jeans, the failsafe winter coat and the little black dress.

A turtleneck can be more than that sweater you pull on for a run to 7-11.

Make it the key to a new, spicy look this year. Pair it with a pencil skirt and a curvy jacket. We used a skirt from House of Dereon and a jacket from Charlotte Solnicki and we finished the look with dark hose and pumps.

Tired of wearing your jeans with your husband’s varsity shirt and calling it fashion? Make a change. Go glamorous. A leopard print jacket brings immediate sophistication to denim. We bought this one by Phillipe Adec on eBay. Put your hair up, sweep on some bright red lipstick, slip on a pair of ballet flats or heels and you’ll soon be murmuring, "merci boucoup".

Sure Cyndi Lauper and Madonna had fun in their leggings and frocks however, since you’re not an Eighties icon but a fabulous real woman in 2007, it’s time to make your leggings reflect the new you.

The key here is to switch from blousy to sleek. Slim-down your silhouette with a fitted shirt, pared knee-length skirt and belted waist and add long leggings underneath. Black is fine or try a rich hue like cranberry leggings from Vince.

Don’t overlook outerwear as a way to telegraph your new attitude. Coats are what people wear over and over again during the winter. Make an old coat something to look at with a wide belt and a jaunty hat. Fedoras, newsboy caps or crocheted tams add élan.

A noted fashion director once mused that she had so many clothes in her closet she had difficultly choosing which one of her more-than-a-dozen black pants she should wear.

The sure-fire way to renew all that black this year is to play it against shine. We found a beautiful metallic sweater set at Louis Feraud. A handbag or a belt in silver or bronze will bring new life to black clothes.

Speaking of black, the little black dress - LBD for short - is due for an update. Give it a new spin. Don’t automatically reach for the pearls. Think of the LBD as a layering piece, much like a slip and swathe it in the hottest topper for 2007 – a trench coat. Opt for a trench in a lightweight fabric like cotton.

A trench in a metallic finish, in white or one in a new nature-prints will fire up your New Year engine.The trench over an LBD is perfect if you’re traveling or attending a cocktail party. We updated a cute LBD from Betsey Johnson with a white trench from Ralph Lauren and a distressed gold bag by Lloyd Marsh. Bare legs and pumps complete the look.

Here are the looks shown in the TODAY show Jan. 2 and shopping information:

LOOK 1: The Turtleneck1. Red turtleneck - Ann Taylor (EBAY)2. Black leather bomber jacket - Charolotte Solnicki, 3. Black pencil skirt - House of Dereon, 4. Cuff bracelet - Cecilia Ramos 5. Black tights6. Black pumps

LOOK 2: Jeans
1. Dark denim jeans - J Brand, 2. Leopard print - EBAY, 3. Brown jersey top - BCBG, 4. Black knee highs5. Suede Peep Toe Pumps - House of Dereon,

LOOK 3 - The Little Black Dress 1. Black cocktail dress - Betsey Johnson, 2. White trench coat - Ralph Lauren, 3. Hobo bag - Gold Loyd Marsh 4. Pearl bead necklace with mink - Mailae Gold Chain5. Peep toe pumps - Nine West,

LOOK 4: Leggings1. Maroon leggings - Vince 2. Pewter belt - Dangerous Mathematicians, 3. Pinstripe skirt - Dangerous Mathematicians 4. Pewter silk blouse - Dangerous Mathematicians5. Bronze clutch - KISS 6. Jean-Michel Cazabat leopard print heels,

LOOK 5 - The Winter Coat 1. Red winter coat, Lord and Taylor, 2. Patent leather belt - Forever 21, 3. Hound's tooth newsboy cap - Any department Store4. Black tights5. Black platform ankle boots - Nine West,