Spring Fashion


A bit of the 80’s look is a hot ticket for spring

Savvy shoppers can wear ‘green’ without screaming it

Photos by J.T. Wampler
Fashions from Something Urban
Story by Wayne Bell

I have always had a strong affection for fashion. Fashion more than just about anything else reflects the world that we live in. If you look around, you see a lot of dark colors and grays. However, you also see a lot of green apples, citrons and washed out blues. It’s a sign of the times. We are a more hopeful nation right now and clothes reflect that.
Look no further than our new first lady. Did she go to the inauguration draped in navy, dark red or black? No, Michelle Obama showed up in a lemongrass number that jump-started formal business attire and moved the genre forward about five years.
I don’t think we are going to see a lot of the pale pastels and pale neutrals of previous years. I believe this spring, we will see a strange juxtaposition of hope and reality. The pastels of this season will pop.
The economy is also impacting spring fashion. More than ever, fashion has taken a back seat in the shrinking household budget.
I can imagine poor Anna Wintour ripping her hair out while approving last fall’s Vogue cover, which offered cost-saving fashion advice. It seems like the whole movement is going against what Vogue and Elle stand for. And yet, even those magazines have acknowledged what is going on in the world.
Look no further than the recent New York Fashion week. Normally known as a huge occurrence around the city that affects fashion around the world, this year’s showing was scaled way down.
Designers showcased downsized looks and many top-level designers decided not to show at all. Some designers are now showing exclusively online. In today’s economy, top designers simply can’t afford the elaborate shows that run hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, you will always have your Dior and Prada, but the second-tier designers have drastically reduced their budgets.
The final thing that is effecting today’s fashion is the push to go “green.” Designers are looking for new ways to be environmentally friendly this season. New organic fabrics, “green” distribution and earth friendly treatments are popping up throughout the fashion world.
You can go to major department stores now and find bedding, clothing and even accessories that are earth-friendly. The kitschy license plate bags of five years ago have been replaced with chic, modern pieces that are also good for the earth.
I suppose the new motto is wear “green” without screaming it. Incorporate the principals and replace your basics with “green” products. That way, it becomes second nature; the way shopping at Ozark Natural Foods can slowly overtake shopping at Walmart. In other words, change your habits.
Here are my tips for being fashionable this spring, taking into account the considerations of today’s world. Even if you don’t think you can afford to update your wardrobe with all new items, there are some basic things that you can do to stretch your wardrobe into spring and make yourself fashion forward. Maybe we can get some relief in time for fall and spend our fashion budget on things that really matter like suits, tweeds and coats, those pieces that will last us year after year.


Take your pick: Strappy sandals are in, both as flats and heels.

Tip One:

Downsized fashion does not mean downsized fabric
I give this same advice every year and for that I apologize. But a new warmer season doesn’t mean that you should shove common sense out the window. Don’t hike your hemlines to expose more than most of us want to see. I go to countless bars and see the same repeat offenders over and over. At Fix, 21st Amendment and even my beloved Wine Cellar, you see countless ladies parading around in their sex-me dresses, usually in some vibrant color cut up to a normal shirt-line.
You can have fun with fashion without being tacky. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t wear the dress to lunch with girlfriends, then you probably shouldn’t wear it to the club. Now granted, I don’t exclude formal dresses made for evening outs, but I am saying that if you would be embarrassed wearing a dress in front of your mother, then you probably shouldn’t grace us total strangers with it either.
Designers are showing some beautiful vintage-looking pieces this year inspired by “Mad Men,” “Revolutionary Road” and other ’50s and ’60s inspired movies and TV shows. There also is a bit of an ’80s flashback this spring, too.
The silhouette can be a bit more forgiving and tends to have a bit of volume with it. Designers like Marc Jacobs and even Dior have showed this look recently. Look no more than the formal versions worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and Penelope Cruz at the recent Academy Awards. Both stars donned formal wear that could have been worn (and in Cruz’s case … was) in the ’50s.
Although I wouldn’t suggest wearing vintage Balmain like Penelope wore to accept her Oscar to Speakeasy, there are ways to find similar looks inspired by the trend without donning evening wear and breaking the bank.
Look for cocktail and summer dresses that have a vintage look without the huge price tag. You can find them for under $40 if you look. Look for the hot colors of the season like green apple, coral and deep teal.
For men, the new wrinkle resistant dress shirts are bound to be popular. Look for beautiful spring shades like purple, French blue, and, of course, classic white.


Gold and silver bangles and a big fun ring are perfect for summer

Tip Two:

Spend Wisely
This season, the economy dictates thriftier than ever shopping. I tend to believe that old can be very new. It’s OK to scour the thrift stores and resale shops and there are lots of good ones in NWA. What’s better than a pair of almost new Seven or Rock N Republic jeans at a fraction of the price? You can find them if you search. I have seen them in the resale shops.
But buy your wardrobe basics new, because they are the pieces that you want to carry from season to season. Remember to properly care for and launder these items, so they will last.
These classics include the white button down fitted shirt, pencil skirt (I like khaki for spring), gray dress pants (wide leg is very popular right now) and the simple black dress.
In the past, these items could really set you back. However, now you can find affordable versions almost anywhere. Spend what you can on these items, because they will give you the most mileage.
You can have fun without spending a fortune on accessories and trendy pieces like big acrylic jewelry and gemstones, gold and silver tone bangle bracelets and big rings. Look at some of the jewelry worn at recent award shows as inspiration.
Amy Adams’ necklace at the Oscars was both loved and panned. However, the basic premise behind it was playing with dramatic color.
Try frequenting some of the hot spots around town to find some of these looks. There are fantastic stores in the downtown/Dickson Street area that have beautiful jewelry and accessories at great prices.
When it comes to bags, you can spend a fortune at Coach or Louis Vuitton, or you can spend a lot less at department stores or these small boutiques. You may discover that you enjoy the bag just fine for what it is … a fad. If you must have the designer bag in the popular color of the season, you can always try renting the bag online or do a bag swap, which brings me to Tip Three.


Cool summer dresses are always a hit for hot Arkansas summers.

Jeans. A closet staple.

Tip Three:

Rely on your friends

Depend on your friends to help you be on the lookout for great sales that are going on around town and for new stores. I’ve found that my friends are some of the greatest sources of information about organic and earth-friendly clothing.
But, my favorite suggestion for the season is to take a hard look at your closet.
If you haven’t worn it in forever, get rid of it. Make a few piles. Make the first your keeper pile, the second one can be trash and the third one can be your give pile. You can donate the give pile to charity or, you can pass it on to friends by organizing a shopping evening that’s lots of fun.
Get together with your friends and your friends’ friends and ask them to bring all those great items that they don’t want, need or fit into anymore. Put all the stuff together, and shop from the pile. This is a great way to pick up something really fabulous and give to someone who may love something as much as you once did.

The Final Word

So here are the trends for this spring: Bright deep colors, crisp basics that are age and figure appropriate. Spring can be a great time in Northwest Arkansas and a fantastic time to showoff your wardrobe. However this year, many of us will be wearing some things from the past, some new items, and maybe even a few borrowed items. We have to do whatever we can to make it through the economy. Fashion cannot suffer!

Categories: Features