Dawn Weinberger, Freelance Writer

Shades of spring

White, bright, embellished or blue: color and details dominate this season

By Dawn Weinberger

Picture this: jeans with a rise that rests on the hips rather than two inches below, a camisole that covers the midriff, and chic shoes with the added bonus of a flat sole. Two years ago, this was a mere fashion fantasy. Today, it is your spring shopping list (or at least the start to one).

“Good news — pant rises are going up, and tops are coming down,” says Michael Fink, senior fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue. “It’s not about showing the navel this season.”

Instead, it’s about color and flirty, feminine details. Cardigans, still a staple for layering, are embellished with decorative buttons and trim. Sequins grace the necklines of stretch knit tops. And instead of a sea of pink, look for a rainbow of pastels or, if you prefer, bright blue, green and yellow. Even white is, well, white-hot this season. Wear it on the top and bottom, accessorizing with a floral handbag and a pair of printed canvas high-heeled clogs, both from Dolce & Gabana and available at Mario’s. Feeling iffy about wearing solid white? Take this tip from Fink: don a mix of textures (i.e. a matte top with shiny pants). Or, stick with a basic white shirt, á la Sharon Stone.

“(Wear a) slightly oversized white shirt, wrap it and tuck into a full skirt,” he says.

At Nordstrom, don’t miss the considerable assortment of tailored spring jackets in lightweight fabrics — especially the cropped variety with three-quarter length sleeves. The perfect accompaniment to Bermuda shorts, jeans, or a full skirt, this is arguably the most important item of Spring ’05.

“A great jacket is a must-have this season,” says Keith Wagner, Northwest fashion manager for Nordstrom. “It is a wonderful piece to layer (with).”

For spring’s take on last fall’s poncho, try the oh-so-graceful look of a caftan or tunic-style top from designers Ellie Tahari or Rene Lezard. Victoria Taylor, owner and merchandise director at Mercantile, suggests wearing one in a fluid fabric that’s dip-dyed. (and yes, these tops do have that aforementioned belly-hiding feature). Pair it with a fitted pant and embellished flip-flops, and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation!

As for the poncho itself, don’t be so anxious to pack it away with the wool sweaters.

“Ponchos are wonderful for cool evenings,” says Fink. “Go ahead and use them.”

When the occasion calls for something a little dressier, go for something classic — like a dress. And good news: it doesn’t have to be black. Mario’s features an assortment of dresses in bright colors and patterns that are elegant enough to wear to weddings or cocktail parties. Women’s fashion director Lynwood Holmberg also likes dresses with rouching and asymmetrical lines (the store carries a series of dresses in a variety of solids and prints by Jill Sander).

For the feet, two looks rule: flats (ballet, sling back and mules) and the wedge.

“This year it is more of a pointed flat, so it has a sophisticated look,” says Holmberg. “They are comfortable and look nice with short pants and skirts.”

Wedges work with just about anything, but they particularly enhance a full peasant skirt (check out the Betsy Johnson “Chat” cork wedge at Nordstrom). Add a colorful La Coste polo and some wood bangles, and you’ve got a fresh take on the Bohemian look.

Don’t forget to pick up a La Coste polo or two for the man in your life (they are all over, including Nordstrom, Saks and Mario’s). Red, yellow and green work well with indigo denim for a casual look, says Michael Macko, men’s fashion director for Saks. As for the pastels, pair them with flat front khakis, advises Wagner.

Both palettes look great with white denim. Yep, you read that white: white is for the guys, too. In fact, Macko identifies a white blazer as the season’s most important piece for men.

Forget those visions of Miami Vice. This decade’s white blazer won’t be worn with a crew neck tee. Instead, Macko recommends pairing a two- or three-button blazer, rather than the Don Johnson-esque one-button style, with a striped shirt and indigo denim jeans. Men should be careful not to go overboard, however — the monochromatic white look is for the ladies.

Another great look: white denim, a striped woven shirt with contrasting collars and cuffs, a blazer (in any color but white) and either driving shoes or a pair of Kenneth Cole sneakers. And don’t forget to get a striped rugby shirt in short or long-sleeves and a lightweight v-neck sweater (J. Crew in Pioneer Place has a nice selection), too. Just like the polo, both look great with that white denim.

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