March 2, 2010

Dressing for Spring … Almost

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Getting tired of your winter clothes, coat and snow boots? Me too. But it’s not spring yet — sorry to break it to you, although the two feet of snow on the Arts quad should be hint enough — so we need to keep bundling up to stay warm and dry. The challenge, and hey, we’re Cornell students, we do love our challenges, is to do so with fun and flavor.So how do we do that? The basic gist is to keep the warm and cozy winter sweaters, pants, scarves, but slowly bring in new and interesting elements and combinations to keep things exciting and try to break up the monotony of the season. (It is March now, after all). Prints and colors, new silhouettes and a bit of flash will accomplish this for us, and we’ll take a few cues from this past Fall’s designer lines.      I know I’ve said this many times, but mixing patterns can be incredibly rewarding, and in a season where layering is not only fun but functional, there’s a lot of space (literally) to play with prints. 3.1 Philip Lim showed subtle print pants and a contrasting print shirt with a long solid color cardigan to tie it together, as well as sequined shirts with more traditional solid wool pants and jackets. My friend Emma has started combining thinner but still warm scarves into a single, more fluffy, more interesting scarf by twisting them together lightly before putting them on. Hers are a small black-and-white houndstooth and a navy, black and green plaid. They instantly add interest and texture to even black jeans and a plain color sweater.      Bring color into the mix too. Colored tights are always a great way to spice things up a bit, but remember the winter wind is still a-howlin’; if you don’t have winter-weight tights, consider layering; plain black tights will do just fine behind most colors. Actually, if you have lace tights or even tights with hole in them, layering with another color can create a really neat look.      I’ve already raved this year about Dries Van Noten’s amazing color combinations; burnt red and olive green, navy and burgundy and more, but I am reminding you because this pre-Spring season is a great time to experiment with winter colors, and start bringing in new colors. Playing with classics like black, navy, brown, and camel, in conjunction or mono-chromatically, can be really rewarding, as it brings out texture and silhouette. Donna Karen showed an all-black turtleneck and pants with a belted camel blazer, as well as various bright colored jackets and cardigans with all black underneath.      Another variation on color and pattern is to follow Aquascutum’s lead: the same pattern in different colors; wear stripes together or houndstooth in different colors. Or hint at spring with a cheerful print layered underneath a more subdued dress or sweater. Scarves are always, always useful — both for warmth and for delight — and as we know, one of my all-time favorite clothing items; see the above suggestion for combining patterned scarves, but also think of using them to introduce spring-like colors to a perhaps otherwise subdued palette.      I know people are still curious about the antique rule of no white after Labor Day. Well, I would say now is an excellent time to satisfy that curiosity and go for it. There is something truly delightful about wearing white in the winter, especially when we have all this snow gracing our campus. Some ideas for wearing white in the winter include mixing white and ivory/beige in different textures, or try wearing your white jeans with tall boots and a chunky sweater. You may want to wear leggings or tights under your jeans for warmth.      I’ve already mentioned layering; it’s a great way to re-purpose and renew clothing you already own, and you can create interesting silhouettes and simultaneously increase warmth. Some ideas from the Temperley London show include tucking flowy shirts layered over turtlenecks into high-waisted pants, and creating innovative sleeve shapes. For example, wear a tight long-sleeve shirt, slightly flowy medium length sleeve shirt, and a sleeveless dress or shirt over it. Or, a popular silhouette among many designers for the past few seasons has been a narrow underskirt with a shorter, more flowy overskirt.      Another interesting idea is to think of reversing items of clothing in terms of their usual relation to your other clothes. For example, take a button-down shirt that’s usually your base layer and wear it unbuttoned over a turtleneck or with a belt. Or tuck a cardigan into a pair of high-waisted pants or skirt, or if it’s long enough, into low-waisted pants with an interesting belt or sash.      So in summary, take a new look at your closet, drawers, or floor pile (who, me? nonsense, I always put away my clothes…) and you’ll find a new life there through new ideas and combinations. And never fear, spring will come! And with it, coverage by yours truly of the best ways to greet the sunshine in style.

Original Author: Alex Harlig