The Fashion Plate’s last article focused on eight staple looks. But let’s flip the switch. If adding a little more style and flair is on your wardrobe bucket list, let me help get you started. Time to step outside your fashion comfort zone! It’s a new year, so here’s a new suggestion.

Buy something unexpected! Something that makes you smile and you don’t know why. Buy something fun, whether for a party or hanging out at home with the kids. Fashion risks are fine and fun!

Think outside the normal boring box of clothes. We all have plenty of pants, skirts and shirts to keep us adequately dressed. But who wants to be forgettably attired? Here are some ideas for women and men looking to inject some style into the New Year.

Unexpected - Glasses 2014Eyewear. If you don’t have perfect vision, now is your moment. Glasses are having a resurgence, and it’s worth investing in a pair or two. If you’re a contact wearer, there’s even more reason to invest in a daring pair. Challenge that comfort zone! Variations on cat-eye frames are popular, and styles mixing plastics and metal have the effect of wearing eye jewelry. Deep hues of blues and green are unique and unexpected.

Jackets. We’re not referencing the staple jacket in your coat closet. And skip the interview jacket. Try a shawl-collared or tuxedo-influenced version. Look for textured fabric, contrasting sleeves, motorcycle details, asymmetrical zips and a great fit. Wear this with your party outfit, then wear it with your jeans and skirts any day of the week.

Legwear. Life’s too short for nude hosiery! Ladies, grab the pair that will make your legs the life of the party. Like my favorite polka dot tights! No one can tell how pale you are and no one will notice if you’re in last year’s dress.

Unexpected - Multiple Watches  2014Unexpected - Watch  2014Watches and Bracelets. Everybody needs a little arm candy. If you already have an everyday watch and a few metal bangles, now’s the time to crank it up. Look for a new watch with a larger face. I have a Stamp watch that has interchangeable faces and different colored bands all sold separately. My colorful polka dot Stamp watch face turns heads and makes people happy. Or go for a big classic black, gold or silver watch which guys can pair with a solid-colored sweater and jeans for a great party look. Steinmart in Chapel Hill recently had an ample display of bold, hip watches, one of which made a fab Dad birthday present.

Unexpected - Bow tie - pocket scarf 2014Bow ties. Every guy should own one, and every guy should learn to tie a real one. You might not become “the” bow tie guy, but it’s a good look if you’re eager to surprise people with your newfound stylishness. It will fit in seamlessly for party occasions, out to dinner, at a conference or maybe just on a Friday. Recently a young hip guy sitting in the aisle ahead of me at church had on a bow tie, and I couldn’t resist telling him that he was wearing the unexpected and it looked good!

Pocket squares. If you have blazers, you need these. You don’t have to wear one every time, but it’s a sensible splash of color that can be on the wild side or subdued without harming anyone’s “manly man” image in the least.

Clever plaids. Shirts, not pants. Plaid and checkered dress shirts are available in slim and traditional fits that show off some great color combinations. Dress them down with a solid blazer or suit, or play them up with a patterned tie in contrasting colors. It’s a great way to have a mix-and-match party wardrobe that can also work for business.

Unexpected - Colored pants 2014Colored pants. Try charcoal instead of the standard business gray. Mulberry and regal blues are also safe but much more exciting than khaki. Look for a soft wash on denims or wool. If every pair of pants you own is either a variation of sand or black, you’re missing out on the color spectrum. I’ve always told my clients… don’t be afraid of color! I spotted two guys out of a brunch crowd at R&R Grill in Chapel Hill recently and praised them on their punch of pants color. Paired with a blazer, pocket square and plaid shirt, a pair of colored pants and optional tie can take you from a business meeting to a night out.

Slim cardigans. Guys, who says that a night out means jacket required? A dark, fitted half-zip cardigan can enhance a patterned shirt and slacks. Add a tie and a jacket you can remove once you arrive, and you’ve got a great ensemble. Most guys will find this combination nearly impossible to mess up.

Starting 2014 with a little style confidence, and something unexpected may lead to some brave new ensemble looks in the year ahead.