- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NEW YORK AP) _ The blockbuster colors and florals, geometrics and ethnic prints on the runways at New York Fashion Week may feel like game-changers in the moment. Then there’s the rest of your life.

Once the looks move from the catwalk to the closet after this round of previews, women may need a little guidance on incorporating the prints, shots of neon and other new colors _ purple, yellow, aqua and orange _ into existing wardrobes, said Cindy Weber Cleary, fashion director of InStyle magazine.

If you can pull off scubalike body-conscious looks and short shorts, then go for it. Otherwise, look to the many shirtdresses and fuller skirts a variety of designers are going with for spring and summer, she said.

On Wednesday, the seventh day of shows, trends have become clearer: Prints, athletic inspirations, optimistic color, easy elegance, uneven hemlines and a little bit of the ‘60s over last spring’s solid ‘70s disco vibe.

That said, there doesn’t seem to be one specific muse.

Ken Downing, the senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, said Michael Kors is among those designers to listen to his customers. As a retailer, that’s his job, too.

“I love the dream of the runway, but I also love the reality of a women’s wardrobe,” Downing said.

Cleary’s advice: caution.

“From a consumers’ point of view, it’s great to add an element of surprise to your wardrobe, but you can’t do too much of a good thing,” she said.

Perhaps this is the season for buying a few key updates, coupled with some staples, instead of a wardrobe-changing extravaganza. There are plenty of blacks and whites on the runways, too, to help out.

Fashion week moves to London on Friday, followed by Milan and Paris.

GILLES MENDEL

It was “so fabulous” and so “thrilling.” In fact, it was “historic.”

That’s the week Gilles Mendel has had _ and that was before his runway show that attracted the normally camera-shy Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen.

On Tuesday, he was in Washington to be honored by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt with a National Design Award. First lady Michelle Obama sat next to him at the luncheon.

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