By Wayne Bell
Okay, so I do love fashion! I have to keep telling myself that every year at this time when the tackiest stuff in the world gets paraded around Dickson Street.
It appears that with rising temperatures comes lowered IQ’s in Northwest Arkansas. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I went to a wedding at one of those big churches on Dickson Street. My inebriated other half started pointing out a very disturbing trend that I have tried to ignore for far too long: All the ladies at the wedding (and let’s assume they have names like Kimmy, McKinzie and Tiffany) were wearing those ever popular spring and summer dresses that are polluting the mall.
You may not be personally familiar with these garments, but let me express…if you live in Fayetteville…you have seen them! They come in a variety of colors but typically they are in a somewhat sheer or satiny fabric. That isn’t really the issue. The issue more involves the fact that they are normally cut up to the highest point of legal hem length imaginable. They are typically paired with “sex me up something good” heels, hair extensions and a perma-tan purchased from any number of local tanning salons.
I fear that the root of this problem may stem from our local Delta Gamma Ramma Triangles that promote this. The real problem is that the young ladies can’t separate themselves from the look long after graduation.
The truth is…spring and summer are a terribly difficult time to dress for in Northwest Arkansas. With fall, we have a ton of options for layering and luxury fabrics. However, with spring and summer, we are in a difficult spot.
It’s hard to look like we are going to the beach (as the magazines want us to do) when we don’t have a beach anywhere near here. We also have a lot of trouble pulling off Tiki/tropical chic without looking like an idiot. And honestly, I weigh about 115 pounds and even I can’t pull off Ralph Lauren gingham without looking like I’m off to Wimbledon or about to acquire property in the 1800’s. But a boy can dream. Hopefully this article can shed some light on trends for spring and summer that will keep you away from tacky and set you on the road to classic, on any budget.
FOR THE LADIES
Trend One: Big Florals
This is a tricky trend. The thing about big, bold florals is that you have to completely commit to the look. Floral separates are difficult, so if you are going down the floral route, cover yourself in them. You can go with big oversized florals or tiny ones, but half-assing it won’t work.
Case in point: Consider some of the stunning garments that Marc Jacobs showed this spring. Often known for his restrained beauty, he went full-on glamour with his latest patterns. However, Marc Jacobs isn’t within everyone’s budget, though if you live in Benton County…well, hop on it.
There are some great alternatives in Northwest Arkansas for the budget conscience. Target is showing a fantastic collection this season from actress Milo Jovovich. The clothes are relatively well made and are at a price that should fulfill your desire to embrace the trend without going into debt. This isn’t a trend that will always be around; therefore a major investment isn’t required.
Trend Two: Super-Chunky Acrylic Jewelry
This is a pretty cool one, I hate to admit. From Vera Wang to Tresor, many design houses are showcasing the most over-the-top chunky acrylic pieces this year.
The only downside is that you have to have a fairly long neck to pull off the look, otherwise it will look like you’re missing a neck.
Huge statement pieces are a fun way to dress up a simple white shirt, simple pants suit, or even moderately slutty dress. Just remember to keep everything else really simple when using huge jewelry. The good rule of thumb is to make your statement, in only one way: clothes or jewelry, not both.
Some of the new looks can cost upwards of five grand. However, try scouting out places like Cheap Thrills. They often have older pieces that sell for a fraction of the cost, and actually have a story with them.
Trend Three: See RED!
So what do Heidi Klum, Ruby Dee, Katherine Hiegel, Julie Christie, Miley Cyrus, and a host of others of all ages have in common? They were all sporting red at the recent Academy Awards. Red is a huge color this year. It typically looks great on many different skin tones and can be incorporated into just about any personal style. If you aren’t bold enough to commit to an entire look, try adding a simple piece here and there. This is one trend that will re-occur ever so often, so consider investing.
Trend Four: Bold Colors
In the past, spring and summer meant pastels, but that is SO two years ago. This year is all about gorgeous yellows, oranges, purples and greens. Bright blues and golds are also huge. Essentially any primary color in its brightest form is huge this year.
This is a pretty easy look to pull off. Primary color pieces are so bold that they tend to work their way into wardrobe styles every few years, so pick something you will like for a while. Everyone from Narciso Rodriguez to Jil Sander showed these looks for spring.
Trend Five: Light
Besides the classic white shirt and khaki chino, invest in some lovely flowy items. They are great to pair with a suit, on their own, or as part of a layering look. Nina Ricci is showing lovely flowy dresses that will put you back three grand. However, similar looks can be found at local boutiques.
Oh my god…it’s 2004 all over again! Yes, that’s right. This year’s biggest fashion trends will be sported by four urban, sometime single women in the most anticipated movie of the summer. Women (and us gays) will be flocking to the theatres this month to see what Carrie and Co. are wearing in the “Sex and the City” movie. Many of my friends don’t even care about the plot; they are just anticipating the fashion. So, if you see it on film, try it. Just remember, not everyone is Sarah Jessica Parker, so proceed with caution when duplicating looks.
FOR THE GUYS
Trend One: Brights
Just like with the ladies, bright colors are huge this year. Pair a bright purple, blue or teal shirt with khakis. Prada always makes a splash with their resort wear, however, local stores can provide more economical options. A nice shirt should set you back though. The good news is that many stores actually charge less for solids and solid bright colors are huge this year.
Trend Two: White, White, White
Okay, this trend strikes fear in many fashionable men and it doesn’t matter what I say, many men will not participate. It’s okay! It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to pull this off.
Essentially, the fashionist—ers will all be sporting white jeans and white linen pants this year. Levi’s, Gap and Seven are all showing different styles of white jeans. The rule of thumb regarding this look is to make sure that the jeans are loose fitting, but not baggy.
Dark fitted jeans are always popular, but fitted white jeans are not! Nobody wants to see your business hanging out. Please remember that white jeans can be transparent, so always wear white underwear. There’s nothing worse than seeing black visible man-ty lines.
If done correctly, this can be a very cool look. Try pairing your white jeans with a navy or light gray lightweight sweater. Avoid pairing bright colored shirts with white jeans…unless you live in Miami.
Remember: Make your statement with one piece, not two. Oh, and have your Clorox bleach pen ready.
Trend Three: Fun with sneakers
Nike, Diesel and Puma are all showing brightly colored sneakers. And, I mean BRIGHT sneakers in pink, blue, orange and gold. This is a great look for men with confidence. However, be careful not to come off looking like Bozo.
We are lacking in inventive men’s shoe stores in NWA. We tend to get a lot of boots and standard sneakers. This is one trend that will probably not last, so be careful not to invest too much. If you have trouble finding some styles, you can always turn to the always dependable Converse sneakers.
Trend Four: Preppy Delight
Okay, as much as I hate to admit it, preppy is back. The days of Lacoste and Ralph Lauren have returned. A well-pressed polo (sans popped collar) is big this season. Try to pick bright colors that you can work around khakis.
The Ralph Lauren seersucker is always a classic. Just make sure to keep it to a minimal, like a simple pair of shorts.
Madras prints, as always, are also really popular. Just remember, if you wear Madras shorts, keep your polo or dress shirt white. Old Navy has quickly become the men’s spring and summer warehouse. They have a fantastic assortment of shorts and polos for your preppy delight.
And So It Goes…
Hopefully I have inspired you on ways to update your spring and summer closet. Just remember that it doesn’t take wads of dough to look casual and collected this summer. Just be strategic about how you spend your fashion dollars. Unlike fall and winter, many of these looks won’t come back into style. Therefore, be selective about the stores you frequent.
Enjoy it! Fashion should be fun and this summer is no exception. Embrace your wild side with bright, bold color and always stay clean and polished in your whites.
Embrace your inner classy self and resist those hoochey mama dresses that my other half affectionately refers to as “give yourself staph infection” dresses. And remember, fall is kind of just around the corner… yeaaaahhh! Now who would like to give suggestions on buying a swimsuit?