Colors coming back as fashion world marks spring

Military colors mixed with whimsy

March 11, 2010|By Anica Butler

The dirty gray snowdrifts have all but melted. Crocuses are starting to sprout anywhere they can. And across Baltimore, clothing shops and boutiques are trading in their winter blacks and grays and filling their displays with colors, patterns and metallics. Spring, and its fashion, is on its way.

"Everyone is looking for a bright spot," says Melissa Kirby, co-owner of Shine Collective in Woodberry. And that's why she and many other area retailers are stocking at least some of their shelves with fashions inspired by the spring runway shows.

While those who have been aching to add brighter colors to outfits will be pleased, spring's fashion palette runs the gamut. Head-to toe neutrals are hot, as are military-inspired drabs and olives.

Along with the military colors and jackets, the runways brought sharp, 1980s-inspired shoulders and architectural lines. Clean and elegant were there as well.

But don't let the neutrals and the structure fool you. There is still plenty of whimsy mixed in with the pragmatism.

Textures, details and patterns rule, but mix that in with peek-a-boos, military inspiration, elaborate statement pieces, sports influences and luxurious detailing and you've got spring. Luckily, interpretations of these trends can be found in shops right here at home. Designers have been reacting differently to the recession, says Jessica Atkins, owner of Couture Closet in Federal Hill.

Some designers are realizing they can't expect women to spend a few grand on every piece, Atkins says. So they're putting all that design and all that energy into one piece that you can add to jeans and T-shirts that you already own.

Others, she says, "They're like, 'forget it; what recession?' Were seeing a lot of really over-the-top luxe detailing, seeing a saturation of colors, seeing patterns on patterns, patterns that have nothing to do with each other, seeing a lot of feathers, seeing a lot of furs dyed pink and purple and orange."

It's a very joyful response. Either way, it means more fun fashion for us.

"It's a great time to play," says Kaarin Moore, owner of Closet Caucus, a styling and wardrobe-editing business in Washington. "Play around with color and with your style."

Below are ways you can take just a few of the hottest runway trends and make them your own with items available in local stores.

Patterns and florals
If you're looking to refresh your wardrobe with one piece, Moore votes for a dress.

"The patterned dress is the way to go," she says. "It'll be good this season and will have staying power. It won't be out of season if you wear it next year."

"It's lovely to see dresses with patterns, all those bright colors and lots of textures," she says.

Look for side-swept dresses, or those that tie at the waist or ruffles and other fun textures. Moore advises looking to Target for great patterned dresses around $25.

At Couture Closet in Federal Hill, Atkins showcases a flirty and floral Pinko dress with plenty of ruffles along the bottom for $120. Paired with a structured khaki blazer by Stella McCartney, it's a look that's easy to wear and can go from day to night.

"It's such an easy thing to wear a dress," Moore says. "You don't have to match anything. Just put on a great pair of shoes and you're done."

In a trend we've seen before, designers like Balmain and Marc Jacobs sent Army green jackets and military-inspired cuts down the runway during their spring shows. This time though, the military look has been tempered with more feminine details like ruffles or poufy shoulders with slender arms.

"It's not a literal interpretation. It's not 'Go out and go head-to-toe camo,' " says Atkins. What you're seeing is a lot of structured jackets - tailored jackets with military-esque detailing. Something you could wear to work. It's not costumey.

The military influence is also being seen in the season's color palette - lots of drabs, olives, bronze and khaki, which are just the thing to pair with something more flouncy or floral, Atkins says.

The slouchy boyfriend blazers of the fall are still around, but so are more tailored, structured pieces. If you just invest in two pieces this spring, one should undoubtedly be a blazer, Moore says.

"It's the workhorse of your closet," she says. "You can dress it up or dress it down."

If you don't already own a blazer, go for a classic, black blazer that hits right at the hip. Moore has been looking at the blazers at Banana Republic this season, for instance, and likes what she sees. One or two buttons work best for most people, Moore suggests, but a taller person can pull off three or more. And she's a fan of jackets with no pockets. "They're more versatile; you can put a belt over it."

If you've already got the basics covered, now's the time to go for something a little kickier. In addition to a boyfriend blazer with rolled up sleeves, look for one with some whimsy, perhaps with ruffles on the edge or on the sleeves, offbeat colors or funky embellishments.

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