Accessories this spring are a banquet. Flavors range from western chuck wagon to the hottest salsa with some light natural seasonings for tamer tastes. It's time to sample something new and exotic. And don't ignore the silver, gold and crystal.
Here's a checklist of this season's garnishes.
* THE TOPPERS: This is the year to become a hat person, and "hat hair" is no excuse. The baseball cap, whether emblazoned with a team logo or spiced with glitter, is a summer necessity. When hair won't obey, pull it back and don a cap at a jaunty angle. Beaver Cleaver, Katharine Hepburn, Queen Latifah and Cindy Crawford look great in caps. So will you.
A soft straw fedora could be your first venture into the current menswear mode. The shape flatters all faces and can be found at all price levels. A gingham ribbon or fluttery chiffon tied around the crown makes it pretty.
If you have the grit to pull it off, a straw cowboy hat works stylish wonders.
* THE FROSTINGS: Stash the investment jewelry in the bank box. The future is in better jewelry through chemistry. Lucites and acrylics are being carved and shaped into marvelous rings, bangles and pins. Clear and frosted Lucite is being faceted to reflect light or embedded with fake gems. Designer plastic is the new status symbol.
On the fun front, jewelry that gets attention now is frankly fake or funky. Silver biker chains and studded bracelets and collars are still a strong choice to rev up a denim look. Hi-ho silver shouts western, especially in combination with turquoise or coral stones in bolos, bracelets and concha earrings. And wooden and straw beads and ear bobs worn in bunches of hot tropical fruit colors are sure to be the life of the fiesta.
For nature lovers, there is jewelry inspired by sea and sky. Pearls are abundant, from small to nearly golf ball size and tinted in delicious pale colors. Sea creatures are enameled in watery transparent tints and the night sky is frozen into sparkling sun, star and moon motifs.
Jewelry shapes are stronger. Earrings are big and biggest, with the button emerging as the season's favorite even though huge hoops and door-knocker dangles are still making a big noise. The bracelets to buy are bangles and cuffs to be worn in numbers. Necklaces go to all lengths, but the bold choker has the strongest appeal.
Pins are plentiful and intended to be worn in artful clusters on a lapel or at the neckline.
* LADIES-WHO-LUNCH BAGS: A petite, structured bag is an essential this spring. Even women who can't give up the huge tote that holds all their essentials need a small change. Little handbags in clever geometric designs such as a trapezoids or squares change the shape of an outfit. They make the look dressier, pulled together and smart. Hardware on these bags holds its own and clasps in polished metals set with semiprecious stones have the look of jewelry. So much nicer than a zipper, don't you think? The key colors are light and bright with aqua, lemon and red worked in materials such as kid, patent, straw and silk. Look for pale pastels: They are making a big play this summer.
Big bag fans also have a medley of choices. Folkloric fabrics combined with tooled leather will complement the country and western themes so popular in play clothes.
The new shapes in casual bags are for easy riders. Designs are borrowed from tobacco pouches and feed bags, but in leather and interesting fabrics they travel from barnyard to town.
* THE STAPLES: Is there a woman alive who doesn't take a fashion stand on shoes? There's reason for excitement this spring. New designs walk on the wild side after many seasons of basic black flats and dark hosiery.
High heels are hot, and not just for dancing. Man-tailored suits and shirt-dresses cry for a feminine touch and nothing does it like a high heel in a sheer stocking. Women have the show of a leg and are now prepared to take heels to new heights. Not just as plain pumps, heels are showing up with ankle straps, T-straps and bare cutouts that put sexy back in style.
Even the mule has moved out of the bedroom and on to the street. City versions have a closed vamp but bare the heel and are shown in natural leathers as well as sophisticated patents, metallics and silks.
The platform has returned in a more palatable version of the '60s style. Mainstream designers handle the sole discreetly, but look for a big buildup in shops that cater to the junior trade. They should come with warning labels.
Strong color trends carry over into footwear, with fuchsia, lime and citron a fresh mix.
White is the old new neutral and gold is still good with everything.
* EXTRA DRESSING: Tossing in small extras can make a wardrobe. The simplest are often the best.
Invest in a small lace or silk square to grace the pocket of a tailored suit. It's a flirtatious way around a mannish line.
Buy an important belt. Go for a beautifully crafted buckle or a wrap of ornamental fabric or leather. Think of belts as body jewelry.
Say if with flowers. A silk gardenia or corsage of violets is an old-fashioned accessory that's news again.
Glamorize the eyes. Sunglasses are lavish in detail and design. Rhinestone trims and cat-eye shapes are vintage looks to watch. Jackie-O goggles and Courreges big whites are back.
Lighten up on hosiery. Consider fishnet or pearly sheers for fresh start on spring.