Fashion can be fickle, but here’s the thing: Most trends hang around for a few seasons, so even if you’re reluctant at first, you can let it marinate until you’re ready to partake.
Such is the case with spring fashion for 2014. Many of the themes you saw last spring and in the fall are still the hottest ways to look modern, fun and fashionable.
“Fashion’s not a revolution; it’s an evolution,” said Arlene Goldstein, Belk’s vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction. “I call it the trend curve, where you see something on one person, and then someone else and then before you know it, you see it everywhere.
“Without trends, we have no guidelines about what’s fresh and modern.”
Here are some of the trends dominating fashion this spring:
Floral patterns are blooming all over, and the look goes beyond dainty calico flowers.
Marie Claire magazine’s creative director (and “Project Runway” judge) Nina Garcia showcased leafy tropical prints by Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and J Mendel in her 101 Ideas for spring. Vogue calls the floral trend “island time” in a spread featuring Nicole Kidman in Prada, Rihanna in vintage Christian Dior and Naomi Watts in Michael Kors. Designer Prabal Gurung calls the dark, moody flowers in his spring designs “kaleidoscopic pansies.”
You don’t have to go the designer route to play with pattern. Tribal patterns can be had for a song at international shops like Exotique ( exotique.citymax.com) at 319 West Main St. in Durham, which carries mudcloth from Mali, woven Kente cloth, sundresses from Ghana and traditional dresses, skirts and tops from West Africa.
Suakoko Betty, which transforms authentic West African wax and resist-dye prints into dresses and separates, won the Belk Southern Designer showcase and is a featured line at the department store. Designer Charlene Bendu is from Monrovia, Liberia, and her father helps her source fabrics, Goldstein said.
“The whole ethnic look, multicultural looks, Africana with its exquisite craftsmanship and patterning, I love it all,” she said. “You can get it at every price point.”
Easy shapes will give us a reprieve from the heavy fabrics and layers of our unusually harsh winter. This means pants in lightweight materials and loose silhouettes. Belk named a soft woven pant with a graphic print one of its most wanted items for spring.
“What we’re seeing, for all ages, is the palazzo pant,” said Cheryl Reinert, owner of Gigi’s ( shopgigis.com) and Finley’s ( shopfinleys.com) at 8480 Honeycutt Road in Raleigh. “People are moving away from heavy denim and wanting a more comfortable look. It’s spanning all ages and it’s more flowy so that it’s not adding bulk.”
Reinert suggests pairing wide-leg palazzo pants with a tank or a flowy top with bell sleeves.
Just as easy and more body-conscious is the slim pant, often paired with a tunic, tucked into boots or worn with a blazer. Not quite a legging, which can be clingy, these pants are sleek. “Women who didn’t think they could wear that slim pant are loving it,” Reinert said.
Winter’s functional knitwear scarf is shedding weight and sticking around all year, as the scarf becomes the ubiquitous accessory for fashionable women and men. The spring designs of Shawlsmith ( shawlsmithlondon.com), which moved operations from London to Hargett Street in Raleigh, are inspired by travel, coastal creatures and nature, said spokeswoman Katie Banner.
“There are so many ways to wear a scarf than just around your neck,” Banner said. “You can wrap around your head as a turban or throw around your waist as a sarong.”
A scarf is the perfect spring accessory because you can dress up a plain white T-shirt or cotton dress with a bold print.
“One of our go-to transition outfits is a distressed boyfriend jean, white T-shirt, striped blazer and a soft floral scarf to pull it all together,” said Banner.
Oxfords and moderate heels
Every woman in heels has looked at the guys in the room and lamented that they get to wear comfortable shoes. From casual to black tie, men’s shoes are flat with luxuriously wide toe boxes.
Now it’s the ladies’ turn. Spring runways were replete with flats and Vogue proclaimed a “high heel hiatus.”
The feminine oxford offers comfort and fashion. The vamp hugs your foot and many lace up, so there’s no risk of walking out of them, a hazard with flats like ballerina shoes. G.H. Bass, founded in 1876 and known for its preppy, well-priced penny loafer, has rebranded itself with patent leather loafers in candy colors and ladylike oxfords in metallic gold, fabric and leather.
Not ready to give up heels completely? The 2-inch mid-heel and the chunky heel offer a sturdy step and feminine appeal.
Jumpsuits and rompers
The onesie of seasons past is showing itself as the jumpsuit and its sassy little sister, the romper. The ’70s throwback was in full display in the Oscar-nominated film “American Hustle,” where costume designer Michael Wilkinson dressed Jennifer Lawrence’s character in a flashy, leopard-printed chiffon halter-neck jumpsuit. The street-wear version is subtler.
“Jumpsuits and rompers seem to be big for spring,” said Bess York of Sloan Boutique ( sloanboutique.com) at 1419 East Boulevard in Charlotte. “We tend to have them more in solid colors, because it’s easier to accessorize. I feel like jumpsuits translate across the board. They can be a fun alternative to a dress for a spring party.”
A note of caution: Jumpsuits best suit flat bellies and modest chests, so check the fit. If you’re rocking it, step on out.
White and black, white and white
This season, many designers showed white-on-white ensembles, including Armani’s wide-leg suit that has pleats at the waist and hemline. Mall staple Express is styling distressed white jeans with a mesh top and vest. Big-box fashion purveyor Target is championing minimalism, with a black and white color-blocked jumpsuit for $30 and an origami-folded white jacket for $28. Belk has a graphic jumpsuit with spaghetti straps.
“White is such an important palette for spring,” Goldstein said. “We are going to see it head to toe. White shoes are back and so are white handbags. I’m feeling bullish on white.”
Sheon Wilson (sheon@SheonTheStylist.com) is a personal stylist, small business columnist and creator of the Refresh Your Style makeover feature.