The dark, earthy tones and grays of fall fashions are getting a shot of color this year from the many shades of purple.

The favorite color of royalty can be seen in everything from a deep merlot to a light lavender, perfect for spicing up an otherwise drab outfit.

“The tinges of purples and the wines go great with charcoal,” says Lisa Hendricks, owner of Boutique Milan. “They've been great splashes of color for the neutrals this season; you have so much black, white and gray.”

But if visions of Barney the TV dinosaur are holding you back from this trend, then know that a little purple goes a long way in brightening an outfit.

At Arden B, little silk tops in purple hues make a bold statement when paired with a dark skirt or pants or even your favorite jeans.

“Little pops of purple are everywhere,” says Allison Herrington of Bella Rose boutique. “They pop up in a sweater or a dress, in the accessories, in necklaces or earrings.”

Maybe it's too early to tell, but purple might have some staying power. One of its greatest qualities is that the color is just so easy to wear, Herrington says.

“It's a color that works easily on a lot of people,” she says. “You can coordinate it with black and just as easily with sands and the bronzes and silvers. And it goes so well with almost any skin tone.”

That means purple can be paired with many of the pieces already hanging in your closet – the gray flannel trousers or skirt, or a basic black turtleneck.

Unlike certain shades of yellow, which can look all wrong with some skin tones or hair colors, purple seems to be a pleasing hue for most people.

Of course, one of the simplest ways to update a wardrobe is with accessories.

And this year's crop of bags gives you plenty of purple options.

Everything from an Apt. 9 berry-colored leather hobo at Kohl's ($58) to the Cole Haan G Series croc-print bag ($445) in deep plum,

And as a testament to its easy-to-wear rep, purple always has been a key color in makeup, especially for fall palettes.

The Wild Orchids collection of eye shadows from Revlon includes four shades of lavender and plum. L'Oreal's Colour Juice Stick in Plum Crazy delivers a burst of berry color to lips.

For nails, go bold with the deep, dark Always Ascher color from Sally Hansen or try the more delicate, dusty heather of The Grape Lakes from OPI.

© 2006, Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.).

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