Blast from the past

Spandex and shoulder pads usher in spring

Nicole Stafford
April 19, 2007

Wallflowers beware. This spring and summer’s styles aren’t made forbashful fashionistas. Ruffles, spandex, neon colors, sheen and sequins aboundin current collections that embody the vibrant spirit of the belle donne who sport these looks.

Think back to the 1980s.Remember those multi-colored tracksuits and spandex biker shorts in blindinglybright neon colors? Believe it or not, these fluorescent shades are back. But you should use a bit more caution when playing with these colors this time around. Unless you are wearing a print, avoid layering on the neons; otherwiseyou’ll risk resembling a box of human highlighters.

For an unforgettable night on the town, try one of the hottest items of the season: a mini-dress, in your bold color of choice. Don’t be shy about adding a bright purse or shoes to give a pop to the outfit. Dig up leggings and skinny jeans from previous seasons to add to theother 80s comebacks, like vintage graphic tees or jackets with structured shoulders (aka shoulder pads). Since many have vowed to keep shoulder pads a thing of the past, ample consideration should be given to this season’s newly flattering high-waist trousers. Delightfully gone are the days of the ‘plumberbutt’. Super low-rise hip huggers are ‘so yesterday’.

Can’t remember what ‘waist’means? It’s that part of the body designers have carefully cinched this spring.The big-belt craze is back, and they should buckle right around your belly-button. Embrace your waist and experiment with this style: it’s flattering on virtually every body type. Skirts, shorts and even pant suits are all going for the ‘new’ waist look. Wide or tapered legs accent this style. So whether you’re too young to recall all the fashions of the 1980s or still have a fuchsia mini hiding in the back of your closet, this season lets us revisit and re-invent some of the decade’s most memorable styles.

In the mist of the nouveau 80s, designers have started to experiment with futuristic fashions, alluding to costumes from the non-existent film Matrix4. Many stylists are keen on patent leather, adopting this material to accent dress bodices. Black and white patent leather proves the trendiest choice for jackets and accessories, like belts and purses. Metallic gold and silver, traditionally strong accent colors, are beginning to take center stage as well. Metallic leggings, sequined tops and shorts are vibrant examples of summer sparkle. As with the neons of the neo-80s, it’s essential not to mix too much shine. Shine and metallic colors intensify an outfit’s edge and structure, magnifying the part of the body they cover. For metallic novices, start with a silver purse or a top with metallic detailing. Even the smallest bit can add glitz and glamour to an otherwise basic outfit. Still wary about metallic? Try the ‘wet’ look. Summer shades and neutrals have been applied with a sheen that almost looks damp and slick, yet still futuristic and polished.

It’s been said that April showers bring May flowers, and this season romance is in the air as floral patterns take the fashion lead. Roses, peonies, and embroidered blossoms are in full bloom. Besides applying silk flowers to garments, designers have layered silk, lace and tulle to create a look that resembles a bed of petals or a spring bouquet.‘Gardens’ especially grace the neckline of blouses or on the hems of dresses and skirts. A delicate dress with this detailing can easily transcend the boundaries of night and day. These feminine fabrics arouse the hopeless romantic in all of us. Layered and tiered, they add volume and movement to spring dresses and blouses, especially when paired with the always-reliable empire waist—a must-have in any closet. Spring and summer will see an abundance off rills, bows, ruffles and lace. From a ribbon headband to lace detailing on hosiery or an updated ruffle skirt, it’s easy to delight in everyday romance and femininity. 

Use these trends as inspiration and mold them to your personal style. If something doesn’t feel right, start slow or try something else. Remember an outfit is incomplete without accessories, so be sure to experiment with belts of all widths and colors. Try bags with hardware trims or a clutch for both night and day and treat your feet to a pair of Florence-friendly flats. Because spring is busting out all over, head to your closet and have fun.

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