What the Spring Fashion Trends Mean to You

All-American denim, in a variety of colors, is expected to be the new favorite fabric for spring. No doubt about it, you should expect to see many women wearing denim dresses, denim skirts, and denim suits, in trim, elegant cuts suitable for both work and evenings out. More casual denim clothes that combine sturdy practicality and a pulled-together look should appeal to stay-home mothers.

For the office, in all but the most conservative fields, women will probably opt for denim in dark blue or other neutral colors, accessorized with white or bright tops and, of course, jewelry. Office-appropriate colored denims are likely to be somewhat muted—for example, a deep, rich red rather than Palm Beach pink. Women who enjoy wearing the season’s brightest colors most likely will treat a bright denim garment almost like an accessory, meant to be paired with white or a neutral.

Denim is an easy fabric to accessorize with jewelry. Traditional blue denim looks right with virtually any color of metal or gemstone. Simple, slim silhouettes for denim suits or dresses provide a wonderful backdrop for a wide variety of jewelry choices. And because denim is a heavy fabric, larger, more substantial jewelry won’t overpower it. Try some big rings with a single bright gemstone, wide-cuff bracelets, or colorful multiple-strand bead necklaces. White or colorful pearls will look good with colored denims; black Tahitian pearls will look great with blue denim.

Another tip: Native American inlay jewelry—whether it’s traditional sterling silver and turquoise or a more modern version in gold and precious gems—is a perennial, all-American favorite to wear with denim.

The preppy look. Also look for shirtdresses and a preppy influence to catch on. Like denim, these styles are easy to coordinate and appropriate for either office or home. But don’t look for duck prints and Lilly Pulitzer wrap skirts—the “influence” part of “preppy influence” refers to neat, ladylike, A-line silhouettes and shirt/sweater combinations. Think “tea time,” not “tee time,” and if you can still find your old copy of The Preppy Handbook, read it for a nostalgic chuckle, not as a style guide.

Shirts and shirtdresses both will benefit from a necklace. Some women may wear small neckerchiefs instead, but many women in hot, humid climates can’t tolerate anything tied on the neck in the summertime. Pearls—a preppy classic!—or soft, supple chains with pretty gemstone pendants will fit nicely inside a tailored collar or accent a round-neck sweater. Short sleeves free the wrists to carry off a bracelet or a tailored watch.

Ruffles will abound but most will probably take the form of small, neat trims or one deep, subtle flounce on hems or sleeves, neither of which should interfere with jewelry. An all-ruffle evening dress will look good with a single, statement-making jewelry element worn far from the torso—eye-catching earrings, a spectacular ring, a jeweled minaudi?, a diamond hair pin, perhaps a special bracelet—and leave it at that. Don’t suggest a necklace or an ensemble that will compete with a bib full of ruffles.

You can also expect to see some pale-colored leathers, with lots of python and crocodile-patterned accessories. Snake or crocodile texturing in a solid color can accommodate jewelry in complementary colors, but actual snakeskin has so many subtle shadings that it’s better served by jewelry that won’t compete. Consider diamonds or pearls in platinum or white gold. Look for this interest in texture to influence the surfaces of metals and gemstones. The fashion trend for cutout designs is not a new look for fine jewelry, but we’re betting it will be a popular one this spring.

The hot pants, super-mini skirts, and other ultra-sexy clothes shown for spring will most likely be a single-season fad, worn mainly by teenagers or very young women. More lasting will be some of the favorite trends from spring and summer ’99. These include Capri pants and the “rich bohemian” look—embellished fabrics, beading, fringe, peasant blouses, and the like. The bohemian look is especially influential in jewelry design, as evidenced by beads, dangles, and gemstone “fringe” as well as Indian, Gypsy, and other ethnic influences. Look for these trends to continue in some form for the next couple of seasons.

Another trend you can expect to continue is the fitted shirt worn tails out and sans jacket, over slim skirts and pants. Even though the fashion pundits are saying “out is over, tuck it in,” it’s doubtful the flattering look of a curvy shirt worn out will pass so quickly. This look requires the same kind of jewelry as a shirtdress does.

Sweaters instead of jackets. Other trends likely to remain popular in the upcoming season are sweater sets and cardigan sweaters (instead of jackets), color, coat/dress combinations, sleeveless funnel-neck tops, knee-length or slightly longer skirts, strappy sandals, sexy shoes with slender—usually high—heels and pointed toes, and the grown-up Mary Jane. Keep an eye on the predicted return of full skirts for daywear—depending on how the skirts are cut, this could be a hot trend.

For eveningwear, look for the slim top and long ball skirt to stay around at least through summer. An alternative is a Capri pant and top in a dressy fabric.

Important to all these trends will be colored gemstones set in yellow or white—and, increasingly, pink—metals.

One final note: The fashion press has declared pashmina pass?but don’t believe it. To be sure, a big decrease in the fabric’s price may have killed the shawls’ cachet with the fashion crowd, but to paraphrase Mark Twain (who, incidentally, was briefly a writer for JCK!), reports of pashminas’ death are greatly exaggerated.

Fads come and go in a flash, but true trends are born when a need is fulfilled, and pashminas fill quite a few needs. How many other garments can serve as a warm scarf in winter, an evening wrap in summer, and protection against an overly air-conditioned office—and add a splash of vibrant color any time? They can be used as travel blankets, chair throws, wrap skirts, and more, and they fold up into practically nothing in a handbag or briefcase. And they appeal to women from 17 to 70 and beyond!

Your customers are going to wear their pashminas for quite some time to come, and a fabulous brooch (in diamond or complementary colored gems, of course!) is the chic way to fasten one.

Trends in a Nutshell

Quick! Can you sum up spring fashion in less than 10 seconds? In an era of sound-bite news, bite-size foods, and online cruising, everyone’s thinking in keywords. In keeping with the trend, here’s the major news from the spring/summer 2000 collections:

  1. Denim.

  2. Ruffles.

  3. Leather.

  4. Shirts.

  5. Shirtdresses.

  6. Color.

  7. Sexy.

  8. Preppy.

  9. Wearable.

  10. Reptile skin accessories.

Continuing trends from previous seasons include:

  1. Rich Bohemian” styling (i.e., beading, embroidery, embellished looks).

  2. Capri pants.

  3. Knee-length skirts.

  4. High heels.

  5. Sweater sets.