Gretchen Mol in lace
Photo: Fabrizio Ferri
The challenge: Take a sweet, somewhat dated material and make it hip and current. Designers have done it; now it's your turn. Here are four ways to work lace into your wardrobe.

Pick streamlined shapes: A pencil skirt, a tank top—rather than anything elaborately detailed. The fabric should be the star.

Loosen things up by combining lace pieces with tailored clothes. (A cobwebby little top under a suit is terrific for work-to-party transitions) or sleek dark jeans (lovely for a more casual evening). 

Think accents:A cool shoe, bag, belt, or scarf. All-over lace often looks too fussy and "mother of the bride"; lacy accessories are a low-risk way to put a fanciful spin on a simple dress or suit.

Be cautiously colorful: Pastels often read as hyperfeminine, while bright colors can easily look cheap. Black, white, or cream—the classics—are safe; or try neutrals like gray, navy, and brown.

Above: Actress Gretchen Mol, star of ABC's Life on Mars, lets herself be seduced. See her eight new looks.