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How to Freshen Up Your Look for Spring

Spring has arrived, so it's time to add a little punch to your wardrobe.
Spring has arrived, so it's time to add a little punch to your wardrobe.
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Spring is in the air, and as the temperatures get warmer, it's only natural to feel the urge to shed your winter cocoon and lighten – and brighten – your appearance. Fortunately, color is everywhere this season, so it's easy to freshen up your look with a pop of color.

The color experts at Pantone Color Institute have declared tangerine as the color of spring 2012, bringing with it a jolt of energy, optimism, and enthusiasm. Shades of the juicy orange can be found everywhere, from classic clothing and workout wear to accessories and cosmetics. Other important colors include vibrant yellow and soft blue, green, and pink [source: Pantone Color Institute].

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Feminine looks are taking a front seat this season, taking a cue from looks of the '20s, '50s, and '60s. Hippie and "festival" looks from the seventies are also making their mark, in the shape of maxi skirts, blouses with bows, and straight hair with a center part.

Read on and learn more about the trends that are hot this spring in fashion, hair, accessories, and makeup. Then, choose the looks that are right for you and your lifestyle. Why not? The world is your runway!

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This year, spring fashion is as colorful as the season itself. Styles are feminine and pretty, and lacy looks are everywhere. So put away your drab wools and corduroy, and try on a few fun new pieces to wake up your wardrobe. Here are some trends to look for in the stores:

  • Bright colors. Color is big and bright! Think vivid shades of tangerine, shocking pink, electric blue. Neon shades are especially fun, and you can find wearable options in everything from silk blouses and tanks to dresses, skirts and pants. Wear them together in complementary colors for maximum impact.
  • Sporty couture. Active lifestyles are influencing the fashion scene, making it chic to mix active wear like sport tops and workout-inspired pants with structured jackets. Think sweatshirt shapes made from cashmere or luxurious cotton, and drawstring skirts. Gucci walked the look down the runway, but athletic-inspired casual wear is available from a number of design partnerships, including Stella McCartney for Adidas and Heidi Klum for New Balance. Colorful athletic-inspired footwear makes hoofing around town casual and comfortable.
  • Colored pants. After seasons of basic black and blue denim, wake up your wardrobe with some lemon yellow or soft red jeans. Printed pants, with florals or intricate patterns, will also make a splash. Pair your new pants with a neutral top or something in the same color tone, and slip into neutral shoes.
  • Graphic prints. Make a statement in a dress, top or skirt printed with geometrics shapes or oversized florals. If you're wearing a bold piece, keep other clothing and accessories a bit understated to keep things the look from being overwhelming.
  • Color blocking. Bold, bright pieces incorporating the Mondrian look are everywhere. You can also create your own looks: pair a green skirt with a yellow sweater or red jeans with a purple T-shirt. Neutral or black accessories work best with blocks of colored clothing.
  • Sassy shorts. Short shorts are in, so show a little leg. Pair with a jacket or cardigan sweater for a classy look that will take you from running errands to dining out. Keep the occasion in mind when choosing from a gorgeous array of fabrics, including blue or colored denim, polished cottons, flowy silks, textured tweeds, and dressy metallics.
  • Charming skirts. Pencil shapes are everywhere, as well as full flirty skirts or maxi options. Peplum skirts -- with a short flared ruffle that sits at the natural waist -- add a touch of glamour to your wardrobe, and pleats are also a hot trend. When choosing a skirt, let your legs, shape, and destination be your guide.

Think pretty, feminine, and fun, and bring a little whimsy into your wardrobe this spring!

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When it comes to spring fashion, go all out -- but keep your hair simple.
When it comes to spring fashion, go all out -- but keep your hair simple.
Pando Hall/Getty Images

With all the color and intricacy going on in fashion this spring, is it any surprise that stylists are taking a minimalist approach to hair? The best hairstyles look easy and casual, even though they might require a little extra styling effort. A few trends on the runway include:

  • Glistening hair. Keep that fresh out of the shower or pool look all day long using special hair gels or oils. It's a look that works best when the rest of your look is polished and put-together.
  • Simple ponytails. Sweep your hair back low and tie it with leather or a simple barrette, or loop it around for a fashionable and sexy look.
  • Retro hairdos. Glamorous waves and pinned back looks from the 1940s and 1950s were seen on the runways at Prada and Zac Posen. These 'dos are the perfect complement to feminine fashions and special occasions.
  • Great haircuts. A great haircut it always in style, and when your busy day calls for minimal styling time, it's essential. A good stylist can help you understand your hair type and face shape, then guide you to a haircut that flatters and suits your lifestyle. When it comes to popular trends, voluminous locks with center parts or bangs that hint at '70s styles are current. A classic bob with a modern edge is always right.

And for a real head-turning look, try adding streaks of vibrant pastel color to your mane.

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Did we say bright clothing is hot? Guess what ... so is bright makeup! Pick tangerine lipstick to freshen up your pout for spring. Softer, peachy shades work well if your hair and skin are light, while those with darker hair and skin can experiment with true orange or shades with yellow or red undertones. Top your lipstick with a shiny gloss, and keep the rest of your makeup natural and minimal.

Neons are also making makeup news, with lip glosses in sheer neon colors of grape, orange, and cherry pink. Fingertips get a neon pop with nail polishes with crazy names like Sizzle (a coral pink), Caliente (a bright orange), and Gargantuan Green Grape (a florescent green). On the other hand, neutral pinks and creamy whites on the nails feel new and feminine.

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Eye shadows are best kept neutral if you're wearing a bold lipstick, but if you'd like to play up your eyes, dip your shadow brush into shades from the '70s like light blue and green. Orchid purples are also current. Or look to the '60s and emulate cat eyes with distinctive eyeliner and generously applied mascara.

Another must for your makeup bag this spring? Make sure you have a bronzer on hand to simulate a sun-kissed glow.

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Keep things classic and ladylike with pearl earrings like these.
Keep things classic and ladylike with pearl earrings like these.
Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Spring jewelry and accessories are fun, bold, and sassy. Earrings and bracelets are big this season, literally and figuratively, while wedges and platforms are the shoe of the moment, adding height without sacrificing comfort.

Experiment with these trends to earn your fashionista stripes:

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  • Go global. Tribal and tropical prints and accessories from around the world add a well-traveled touch to your attire. Think textures, like rattan, wood, and leather, on shoes and handbags, as well as exotic jewelry made from metal, wood or bone.
  • Think sporty. Brightly colored accessories made from performance fabrics are a fun trend. If an orange nylon quilted Chanel shoulder bag isn't in your budget, you can still sport the trend in an orange knockoff bag or rubber yellow sandals, a primary-colored sport watch, or a bold anorak to toss over whatever you're wearing.
  • Perforated leather. Lighten up your leather by choosing accessories with holes or cutouts. It's a fresh look in a shoulder bag and a feminine touch for oxford-styled loafers or ballet flats.
  • Be ladylike. The '50s and early '60s trend continues with graceful pumps and structured bags. Oversized shapes keep the handled tote and pearl jewelry au courant; anything white or cream-colored is especially fabulous.
  • Bold and colorful. If you'd prefer to keep your clothing neutral, add a dash of color with bright and bold accessories. Try a chunky citrus enamel necklace over a gray T- shirt, or wake up your white shorts with neon ballet flats.

Is your closet ready for the rise in temperature? Make sure you're equipped with a few of these essentials and you'll be fashionably ready for anything in the warm months ahead.

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Sources

  • Allure.com. "Makeup Looks." (April 20, 2012.) http://www.allure.com/makeup-looks
  • Barney's New York. "Hello Spring: The Barneys Buyers' Top Picks for the Season." The Window: Barney's New York. January 23, 2012. (April 20, 2012.) http://thewindow.barneys.com/spring-picks/.
  • Glamour.com. "Spring Trends." (April 12, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/fashion
  • Pantone Fashion Color Report. "Dance into Spring 2012." (April 12, 2012) http://www.pantone.com/pages/fcr.aspx?pg=20911&ca=4.
  • NewsObserver.com. "Spring Fashion Trends 2012." March 22, 2012. (April 20, 2012.) http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/22/v-print/1949071/spring-fashion-trends-2012.html
  • Molvar, Kari. "Hot New Hair Trends 2012." Harper's Bazaar.com. (April 20, 2012.) http://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/hair-articles/spring-2012-hair-trends#slide-1
  • Molvar, Kari. "The Best Spring 2012 Nail Trends." Harper's Bazaar.com. (April 20, 2012.) http://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/spring-2012-nail-trends#slide-1.
  • Larocca, Amy. "Spring Rundown."New York. 2012 Spring Fashion Issue. http://nymag.com/fashion/12/spring/microtrends-2012-2/
  • Real Simple. "7 Trendy Jewelry Pieces for Spring." (April 20, 2012.) http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/shoes-accessories/jewelry/trendy-jewelry-00100000077017/page6.html.
  • Uticone, Christina. "Spend vs. Save: The High/Low on Three Spring and Summer 2012 Trends." Houston Press. April 11, 2012. (April 20, 2012.) http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/2012/04/spring_summer_2012_trends_spen.php.

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