It’s that time of year when spring fashion hits the stores and the weather warms up just enough to inspire us to buy something new. This season, shopping will be especially satisfying, because designers have created something for everyone. Whether your style is ultra-feminine, young and hip, or masculine-chic, there’s a silhouette, color, or embellishment that will be worth embracing. Straight off the runways are a wildly diverse mix of trends, from athletic-inspired dresses to playful Pop Art patterns, from menswear-inspired business attire to ladylike shapes with a vintage appeal. Here are some ways to embrace the season’s hottest looks.
Be a lady. If refined is your thing, now is the time to flaunt your femininity. Florals make another comeback, this time in bold and playful prints or large vintage-inspired blooms. Pastels and blush tones are turning everything from A-line skirts to silk blouses rosy. Micro pleats are back in the fold. And tea-length skirts — which fall just between midi and maxi — seemed to have popped out of a 1950s Christian Dior Look Book. Donna O’Leary, owner of the Ambiance retail chain, which has a store on Union Street, predicts that her customers will be particularly drawn to the new florals, which she’s seeing in “beautiful new photographic prints and gorgeous classic [interpretations],” as well as the longer hemlines that are affecting “everything from sheaths and column dresses to gorgeous pencil skirts.”
Look like an athlete — without breaking a sweat. Varsity jackets, tennis-inspired dresses, gym shorts, sweatshirts, and jerseys appear to have stepped right out of the sports arena, with details like athletic stripes, team numbers, and mesh scoring on everything from skirts to socks. “This is a look that will translate somewhat to our area,” says Leslie Drapkin, co-owner of the Jest Jewels chain, including a store on Union Street. “But it’s mostly for the younger Marina ladies.” Will we soon spot 20-somethings parading down Chestnut Street in gym shorts and striped socks? Count on it.
Go collarless. Just when you thought you had exhausted all your outerwear options for cool San Francisco nights, there’s a new layering piece in town. It’s long. It’s streamlined. And it’s free of collars or lapels. A welcome alternative to the ubiquitous vest or moto jacket, the collarless coat is appearing in a variety of prints and fabrics, works well with dressy trousers or pencil skirts, and plays nicely with both leather pants and tailored dresses. “This style is red-hot right now,” says O’Leary. “You can do a lot with that simplicity, and can even add a pin, scarf, or belt” to customize the look. “Plus, lightweight coats are something San Francisco women need year-round.”
Revisit the Warhol era. Pop Art prints are making a big statement on ready-to-wear and accessories. Expect to see bold graphic prints everywhere this spring, along with strong geometric shapes on jewelry and handbags. Drapkin says she is seeing a lot of big triangle and hexagon earrings (“very L.A.”), as well as Mondrian-inspired patterns on accessories, particularly scarves. “Buying a scarf in a bold print allows you to make a powerful statement,” she says, without committing to a head-to-toe look.
Borrow from the bank. Menswear-inspired women’s clothes are nothing new — remember Annie Hall? — but this time around, the shirts have a decidedly more Wall Street feel, geared up in crisp poplin fabrics and assured details like striping. But you won’t find these powerhouses in your banker boyfriend’s closet. With fun and flirty details such as asymmetrical cuts, neck adornments, glitzy buttons, and trim, these shirts are 100 percent female. As they are, according to O’Leary, a classic look that “every woman should have in
Make a statement. While girly looks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, designers are also churning out more over-the-top embellishments. Not since the Urban Cowboy era has fringe been so hot. This time, it’s popping up in necklines, headdresses and ponchos. Also making an impact are 3-D embellishments featuring pailettes, sequins, or crystals. And designers have taken a shine to metallics, which Drapkin says she’s seeing mostly in bronze, silver, and gold — most befitting of the recent Olympics.
Widen your horizons. After seasons of skinny jeans, it feels refreshing that designers are now giving us another option. Wide-legged trousers, billowy culottes, and loose Bermuda shorts were seen on almost every runway, particularly in white. “It’s a nice alternative to skin-tight,” says O’Leary, who predicts wide-legged trousers will be big sellers. “If they’re fitted really well, they show off your figure just as well [as tight jeans]. Add a pair of boots or high wedges and you’ve got a great ’70s-inspired look.”
Loosen up. This season boxier, looser tops are working their way onto bomber jackets, shift blouses, sweatshirts, and dressy T-shirts. These more relaxed cuts look great on the runway, says O’Leary, but the jury’s still out on whether they’ll win over fit neighborhood women who prefer more tailored silhouettes. Younger, club-going gals, however, may opt for versions that are cropped or sheer — two other major trends — if they can brave the chilly nights here.