Change is in the air

By Wayne Bell

Cool and simple with a great pair of shoes is the look for summer.

Cool and simple with a great pair of shoes is the look for summer.

I am normally a big fan of fall fashion and see spring as a fashion period to simply breeze through. However, this year it seems as if the fashion is reflecting the times more than ever. There is a glimmer of hope, color and shape after two years of tired old design. I would argue that this is a reflection of the general feeling that things might be getting better with the economy. It’s lightening up. This probably also has to do with the fact that there is some real change happening in our nation’s capital.

Or it could simply be because there is a need to make the dollar stretch more. The truth is, designers are beginning to see that people expect a certain level of quality to accompany design in today’s economy. When people have less to spend, they demand more. Whatever the motivation, this is the first spring in a few years that I am excited about fashion and maybe you should be too.

Blue Is Queen

Look no further than the recent Academy Awards and the domination of the color blue by stars including Oprah Winfrey, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams. Designers including Marchesa, Elie Saab and the late Alexander McQueen have been showing it in new and interesting ways. It’s not simply navy anymore. It’s also not just pastels. Bright, bold, rich blue has come back.

To incorporate this into your wardrobe, think about color blocking. If you decide to wear a deep V sweater in royal blue, pair it with a simple skirt or pair of jeans. Blue looks best with white, light khaki or black. If you go with black, make sure that your blue is vibrant enough to not blend with your black. Blue may be this year’s red and purple and requires some consideration when wearing it. The trick is to come across looking sleek, slim and smart.

For men, the navy suit has made a comeback. You might want to consider putting away your stuffy old black suit and turn to the classic navy. It’s a way to incorporate something new into an otherwise stale color palette.

For navy and blue, brown shoes are best. For khaki and gray, brown shoes are best. If I could only own one pair of shoes, I would own brown shoes. Black is really the only color that requires black shoes. Europe has been fighting that rule for a while now.

Return To The ’80s

One of the season’s biggest trends is shoulder pads. I know, I know … shoulder pads. Sandra Bullock proved at the Screen Actors Guild Awards that it can be done. They are all over the runways this season. It is all about incorporating strength into otherwise feminine choices.

This season is all about soft when it comes to women’s fashion. Soft blush pinks, corals and silvers — think Sandra Bullock in Marchesa at the Oscars. This year, designers like Vera Wang, Chanel and Lanvin have turned to soft hues to add depth to their collections.

The Basics

No article on clothing would be complete without a mention of the staples that everyone should have in their closet. For both men and women, that includes a well-made, tailored, crisp white dress shirt. Think Ralph Lauren. You can dress it up, you can dress it down … but in the end, nothing looks better. The same could be said of dark washed jeans in a modern cut. Try looking at resale or at local boutiques instead of paying $200 for a pair of Sevens or Rock n Republics.

Women should have a simple black dress and a suit that can be easily broken up. Men should also have a well-made suit.

A flat front khaki pant is an essential spring must-have for both men and women. A trench coat is also a great classic piece, but it doesn’t have to be khaki. I recently saw a beautiful pale rose trench coat that I wanted my friend Jessica to buy. She didn’t.

The Final Word

Speaking of friends, it’s imperative to make friends with a tailor who you can trust. Most people never worry about the fit, but it can make or break a look more than anything.

In the end, remember that any season is about individuality. However, when expressing your individuality, remember to spend wisely, shop locally and never spend a ton on the trendy pieces.

Spring has sprung in fashion and this year it includes bold colors, gorgeous prints and above all good old classics like black and white.

Categories: Features