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Switch up your wardrobe by changing color palette

Those of you who read my column know that I write a lot about color.

Having up-to-date hues in your wardrobe is, in my opinion, one of the simplest ways to stay on trend. It's far simpler than donning a pair of high-waisted, short denim shorts (good riddance) or trying out ombre hair. With color, you can wear your trusty jeans and cardigans and pencil skirts and still stay somewhat current.

In addition, paying attention to color trends is a great way to learn how fashion works. It's not just someone sitting in a room saying, "I shall make this the most popular color in the land!" It's actually the opposite: Trends are driven by our cultural landscape, and THEN people sit in a room and choose which ones are going to be biggest.

This season, Pantone's fall 2013 color report reflects a turn toward the understated. During the years that we've been emerging from the recession, bright colors -- often several in one outfit -- have ruled the racks. Now, there are still some rich, standout hues in the palette, but several more neutral shades. And those accent hues have a lot of complimentary neutrals, so they're less likely to be paired together.

Yes, you heard it here first. I'm pretty sure color blocking is on its way out. However, this fall's palette is a little wacky. It is incredibly sophisticated, rather than whimsical like the last few seasons, but the combinations are very unexpected.

I also can usually pick up which colors are good for my complexion -- or, which complexions are going to have a great season and which should really just stick to black. That part is also a tough call.

Let's start with the neutrals. Everyone who knows me knows that I hate brown. My brother actually just bought a new car and opted for brown, so I won't want to drive it when I'm home. (You think that was a terrible plan, right? Ah, you underestimate me, readers.) This season's brown is a dark, warm hue called carafe. It is intended to literally be the new black, and it does seem to go with everything and will be chicer than black this fall. In fact, if the car is carafe I could be on board.

Rounding out the neutrals are a dark gray and, surprisingly, a dark green.

There are actually three shades of green in this season's palette, inspired, no doubt, by emerald, the color of the year. The third shade is a very light yellow-green. I think it can function similarly to sage as a neutral when you need it to be and a statement hue when you need it to be. Interestingly, you're encouraged to wear any of them together. I've seen a lot of monochromatic outfits in fashion recently, as well as outfits that are not quite monochromatic but pair two similar hues.

Then we have the accent colors. My favorite this season is called vivacious, essentially a raspberry. I just wore it to a wedding, and it was the perfect choice because it's multi-seasonal. It's bright enough to make a statement, but not so bright as to be distracting. Vivacious is one of two berry-inspired hues this season -- the other is acai, a bluish purple. That's proof you can get more from the color forecast than just fashion advice. You're also getting antioxidants.

Top it off with blue (Mykonos blue, a medium-bright shade), samba (a vibrant red) and koi, which, to be honest, looks like regular old orange to me. But it feels fancier, and that, in a nutshell, is the job of all these colors.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)