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I love the 80s; some of the most fun in music and even in fashion. I am one who does not flush with embarrassment when I see a picture of me decked out in mall bangs, puffy socks and shoulder pads. I thought at the time, the look was fun and colorful; fashion took risks. You could wear Versace, or you could wear vintage (though back then it was usually just a Joe Shmoe thrift store find) and still look totally tubular.
That doesn’t mean I like the resurgence of metallics, shoulder pads, boyfriend blazers, leggings and skinny jeans in weird washes. It was fun… 20 years ago. Not it makes the most chic of women look like a fashion victim.
So how can you get the new look for spring without looking like a leftover valley girl or a fashion victim? Here are some of the trends for spring that can work with most any wardrobe and survive more than one season of style:
These aren’t quite the Crayola hues of the winter; they are a cherry spring version. Instead of orange, try tangerine. In place of emerald, a leaf or Kelly green offers pop without overkill. Instead of red, try hibiscus (has a pink undertone) or Chinese red (has an orange undertone). Yellow will also be a big color for spring – keep it bright and clear. These hues aren’t muddy, they aren’t neon, they aren’t muted. They have the pop of 2007’s primaries, but a feminine and sunny twist to them.
How to Wear Them: With almost anything! They are being shown paired with pale gray, black, denim, white and optic prints. Jazz up your boring suit with a silk knit tank in tangerine, consider a green handbag for the season (quite an unexpected neutral), or a pair of yellow flats to brighten up jeans or a black and white print skirt. I love the look of a basic khaki or tan with a bright crocus purple or a strong pink for the warmer months and am glad this is a combo easily achieved with this trend.
Hooray, dresses are still quite en vogue for this spring! Almost every figure can find a dress that flatters, and nothing says spring more than a feminine frock and a pair of sweet flats or kitten heels. As for style, most anything goes. The day dress is still popular, with styles varying from the figure-flattering wrap in soft silks and jerseys to more structured s-line, sheath or polo-inspired styles ending right above the knee. After five, look for a return to femininity with frills, lace, sheer floaty fabrics, goddess-inspired cuts and a second year of the maxi dress going strong.
How to Wear Them: The day dresses can easily be worn now with tall boots and come warmer months with shoes that fit the style. If it is a structured style, a flat or pump will be a great choice. For the evening dresses, a feminine shoes with delicate styling and some skin (your peeptoes are still stylish) are the way to go. The skinny belt is still a strong look; try one in a metallic or black patent leather over your simple shifts to add a feminine flair. For solid-colored dresses consider a statement necklace or a scarf as your sole accessory – both are available in almost every price range at your favorite boutique right now.
The winter was a lot of solid colors, fashion has rebelled with a spring full of all sorts of prints. Love animal prints? You’ll be happy to know that there seems to be zebra prints in many stores already. Scarf prints and Pucci-inspired patterns are all over the place, and colorblocking is a very strong trend.
It is also the return of the floral print, and stronger than it has been in many years. Designers are mixing different patterns of florals, adding them to shoes, dresses, skirts and even the linings of coats and purses. These are not Little House on the Prairie calico buds; the look varies from luscious and full cabbage roses and flowers picked from a Victorian garden to modern-art inspired graphic patterns.
How to Wear Them: Like all honesty, this look isn’t for everyone. Printed cardigans and boxy short jackets add style to a simple tank and jeans; a skirt can add fun or femininity to wardrobe staples, and I love the a-line shifts where everything else is simple – minimal accessories, simple shoes, fresh face. Colorblocked styles can be quite flattering to the figure, but keep in mind that the light colors in a pattern will jump out so make sure they are not located where your least favorite body part is. If you wear a pattern, everything else should be solid and simple. The stronger the pattern, the less jewelry and cosmetics you should wear.
Yellow and orange dresses by Banana Republic; red and white print dress by Diane von Furestenberg via Nordstrom; skirt and jacket/shorts outfit by J. Crew; blouse by Kenneth Cole Reaction via Nordstrom
I secretly miss leg warmers, and I’ve noticed that arm warmers are also coming into style again–although I’ve mostly only seen those on Steampunk cosplay afficiandos.
Allie! Did you see that Tim Gunn was on the Jon Stewart show? I didn’t even know who Tim Gunn was (don’t have cable) and now I know that he is so much awesome! Jon Stewart thinks so too; he was very impressed with Tim’s assessment of Fashion’s place in society. If you haven’t already, you should check it out!
I think a maxi dress can work on a petite woman if she is not too curvy on top (shoulders and bust) and the dress isn’t too voluminous. The styles that are strapless or with straps could be flattering because they elongate the neck and collarbone area, making you look taller and not all fabric.
Even if you are petite, maxi dresses look best with flat sandals a la gladiator style or something similar. To pair a maxi dress with heels is like pairing a mini with heels – it’s just too much going on and gives the wrong impression.
I admit I’ve never been much into the 80s look, but I love these bright colors and the looks pictured above, so maybe I’m just a tad 80s? 🙂
Allie, can petite girls pull of a maxi dress? I love the look, but wondered if my 5’1″ self would end up looking lost in my dress?
I’ll admit that I liked many aspects of 80’s fashion too. People like to groan about it now, but if you are as old as I am, you’ll remember that the mid to late 70’s were all about dreary shades of muted, greyed colours, Army fatigue jackets, blue jeans with huge flares that dragged on the ground (while many women took in the thighs until they were skin tight)and other horrors, like double knit polyester pantsuits for older women, and stupid and very dangerous platform shoes to wear with the too-long jeans. Then disco turned up with a wretched fabric called Qiana, in the blechiest shades.
So when the 80’s turned up with clear jewel tones and clothing that actually had shape again, it was a relief. Of course, the extremes of any era are always what comes back in the “revivals” twenty years later, but in reality, much of 80’s style really wasn’t all that bad. Sure, leggings were a bit much, but most sane folks didn’t wear them to the office! You wore your nicely cut royal blue or teal pencil skirt and peplum jacket there and saved the leggings and colourful chunky socks for the weekend!
Something to remember is that so far, the 60’s and 70’s “revivals” in fashion have not been at all accurate. Take it from someone who lives through both decades – people really and truly didn’t dress like that as a whole. Those are extremes that get adopted out of a false sense of nostalgia twenty years later, usually by people who weren’t even born when the fashions were around the first time! 🙂
I LOVE the day-glo yellow that’s everywhere right now!
And EVERYONE has been wearing green this winter (men and women) – it’s nice to know that it will continue into the spring. It has been a very cheery color to see on my daily commute.