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Get a jump on fashion by adding pops of color to your wardrobe

  • Orange County Register
  • Published Sunday, March 10, 2013, at 10:47 p.m.

— It has been cold lately, but soon enough the weather will warm and you’ll want a pop of spring to relieve the weariness of your wintry black wardrobe.

But which of the many spring trends – cropped jackets, graphic black and white, vibrant color mixes and global print-a-paloozas – do you choose to get you through the winter blues?

“Spring ’13 trends offer something for everyone,” said David Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group, a New York-based retail and fashion consultant.

“There are a great many directions happening all at once with each designer/label offering looks that are true to themselves. Colorful and optimistic sums it all up, very possibly a reaction to a world fraught with problems and disasters. Fashion is acting as an escape mechanism.”

And gone are the days when you saw something on a runway in October and waited half a year for the trend to hit your mall. With the Internet – and the thousands of fashion bloggers and self-appointed stylists it has spawned – couture trends translate much faster into retail reality than they used to, Wolfe said.

Such “fast fashion” means antsy fashionistas like me can get a spring-look fix well before winter is over.

“There used to be a real ‘ripple-out’ timetable that said, ‘Paris now, Peoria in 18 months,’ ” Wolfe said. “That is no longer the case. For those who care about fashion, it is almost instant.”

And that ability to satisfy a fashion fan’s desire for the new hasn’t just made trends more accessible, it has made them easier to afford.

Wolfe cites the spring 2013 runways. They were full of black and white – which Wolfe deems “hardly a revolutionary idea” – and nearly immediately, fast-fashion retailer H&M is pushing black-and-white outfits. The Swedish retailer is selling a black-and-white-striped sheer blouse for $25 that looks like something off the Marc Jacobs spring runway.

But what to choose for your escape from now until actual spring without looking like you’re blindly following trends? After all, what works on the runway doesn’t always work for your life.

“If you like a trend, you should try it,” said Sarah Bennett, personal stylist manager at Nordstrom South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. “Every trend is wearable; the key is tailoring it to your own personal style. Color is everywhere for spring. If you’re not ready for head-to-toe color, try starting small with a colored shoe or handbag.”

But the array of trends is dizzying. From the boxy silhouettes of Chanel’s sweet suits, Derek Lam’s saturated featherweight leather, Peter Pilotto’s hypnotic exotic prints, Chloe’s blinding white ensembles, Gucci’s giant undulating ruffles or Michael Kors’ blue-green color mix – what’s a girl on a limited budget to do?

“With so many trends happening simultaneously, a smart shopper takes the time … to familiarize herself with the options and to only adapt/assimilate those that truly suit her real lifestyle and budget. Forget Kim Kardashian and all those starlets on the red carpet,” Wolfe advised.

His easy solution is to choose something that looks like your style but is in spring’s favorite new colors.

“Color, color, color! But not any one specific color,” he said. “There will be brights, pastels, black-and-white and neutrals, too. ‘Proven newness’ is an important consideration. That means choosing something familiar (a garment or an accessory) that is in a new color or new material. It’s safe but sort of exciting.”

Costa Mesa, Calif.-based fashion blogger Beth Jones of B. Jones Style agrees.

“Bold color is still in. Purchase one statement item in a bold color and pop it in your winter wardrobe, but get ready to wear it when spring comes around,” she said.

Another trend easily incorporated into your spring closet – you might even have some left over from fall, when it started appearing on the runway and in stores – is lightweight leather.

Ultra-soft leather details on shirts or dresses automatically make a piece look more sophisticated and give a classic sweater an unexpected edge.

Here, too, color can make it new, because leather doesn’t just come in black anymore (although black leather has reached an iconic status that automatically makes it classic and therefore wearable for all time).

“I’m loving leather for spring, especially colored leather. It’s such a great transitional piece, and if you’re going to make the investment, you’re going to want to use it all year long,” says Orange County, Calif., fashion stylist Leslie Christen.

Choosing a trend that makes you feel like the ultimate version of yourself is the best way to introduce newness into your wardrobe.

“Fashion is a form of self-expression,” Nordstrom’s Bennett says. “It’s a way to tell the world who we are and who we aspire to be without saying anything. If we didn’t have fashion, we’d all be dressed the same; part of our identity would be erased.”

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