Update Your Spring Wardrobe in 5 Steps

Freshen up your look with brightly colored jewelry.
Freshen up your look with brightly colored jewelry.
Arun Nevader/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why fashion has so darned many seasonal rules? There are rules that govern when you can wear white (maybe), when you should (and shouldn't) wear some fabrics and even when it's appropriate to wear certain shoe styles. Bah! It's a good thing many modern designers are reinterpreting the old rules in favor of an eclectic sensibility that says, "If it looks great, go ahead and wear it." And that actually brings up a good point. How can you successfully adapt your look to the march of the seasons -- and to what those quirky designers have up their sleeves this year? Sometimes having too few rules is as frustrating as having too many.

Is it possible to repurpose, reuse and recycle items in your wardrobe for spring? Can you be stylish, ecofriendly, money savvy and a clothes lover too? Oh, and here's the big one: Is it possible to add a few new items to a keep spring wardrobe fresh without ruining your bank balance in the process?

The answer to all these questions is an enthusiastic "yes." When frosty mornings are a thing of the past, and the kids in your life are starting to talk about Easter-egg hunts and summer camp, it's time to update your spring wardrobe -- with a flexible 21st century sensibility. You'll be surprised at what you can do with a little imagination.

Experiment with Hem Length

A generation ago, skirt lengths were a slave to fashion, and every season saw a different "in" length that rendered all other hemlines, no matter how flattering, obsolete. That isn't as true anymore. If you have great legs, then flaunt them in a mini-skirt; if you like a bohemian look, indulge it with a maxi-skirt that creates a flowing silhouette. In fact, maxi-skirts and dresses for daytime were very evident on the runway for spring 2013, so enjoy the diversity and don't be afraid to experiment.

Even if you think the knee is the ugliest part of the feminine anatomy, 2013 will be your year to shine. Below-the-knee skirts are the new conservative length for power suits and dresses, so exercise those calves and indulge your love of classic dressing.

It's all good, so pick a flattering hem length and run with it.

Keep it Casual

The big news for spring is a more casual dressing style. For 2013, that means layered but still flowing and comfortable. One surprise may be the proliferation of denim. Lightweight denim fabrics rocked sundresses and skirts, while heavier weight denim fabrics adorned jackets, slacks, patchwork vests, cutoffs and handbags. We know you love denim, but this may be the year you begin seeing your favorite casual fabric in a whole new way. Review your denim wardrobe, and expect more from those reliable blue pieces. If you can sew, well then, sew: Consider converting an old pair of jeans into a handbag, vest or belt. You'll love the look -- and the price.

Add Some New Colors to Your Palette

White is always in for spring and summer, but designers really relied on it this year in everything from separates to eveningwear. This is great news if you're on a budget. You probably already have white slacks, jeans, tees and sandals in your closet. Coordinate them with a few new accessory items in fresh spring colors like lilac, any shade of yellow, ink, celery, peach, fuchsia and cinnabar. Try incorporating some of those new colors into your lipstick, nail polish, scarf and costume jewelry choices, too.

If white just isn't your color, other popular neutral shades for spring 2013 are nude, khaki (of course) and cool grey. Every spring sees a new fashion color palette bursting with possibilities. If you know what colors are going to be popular in any given season, add a few to your wardrobe and you'll always look fresh and fashionable.

Salute those Stripes
Karolina Kurkova sports stripes and a blazer in Soho.
Karolina Kurkova sports stripes and a blazer in Soho.
Alo Ceballos/FilmMagic/Getty Images

One of the newest looks for spring is stripes. From wide bands to narrow pinstripes, striped fabrics are everywhere. Whether you wear horizontal stripes (which tend to be somewhat less forgiving if you have curves), figure-slimming vertical stripes -- or any angle in between -- invest in at least a couple of striped pieces.

A classic approach is to coordinate a blue and white striped top with a navy (or ink) jacket and white slacks. Almost any striped combo will work, though, even if you want to mix and match your pieces. Yes, mixing your stripes is definitely an option. Imagine the fashion possibilities.

Lose the High Heels

Spring and summer dressing is casual, which means a less formal approach to footwear, too. We love the look of towering high-heel shoes, but making a striped or tight denim pant work may require a low profile approach to foot fashion. Flats are definitely in, especially for evening. They'll look comfortable but stylish with pointed toes and long lean lines -- which is a nice change if you spent all winter walking around on 5-inch (12.5-centimeter) (or higher) stilts.

If you need some elevation for your petite frame, wedges and low-heeled sandals with elaborate ankle straps were also big winners during fashion week. If this means a new shoe wardrobe, then congratulations are in order. To stay within budget, a couple of strategic purchases will get you through the season: Black flats and white sandals are good choices, of course. You might also want to splurge on a sandal made from a natural material like cork, jute or another woven grass. Textured fabrics in sandals and flats work well, too. Try denim, canvas, bamboo or natural cotton.


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