Flowers, leaves and winding vines pop like fireworks on a holiday across soft silky fabrics.
Want black? You may also get white. The duo is a classic often shaped into modern blocks.
The newest pants are wide and breezy and, along with miles of fringe, chunky platform shoes, sparkle, crochet looks and ragged denim, they trigger memories of a tumultuous 1970s.
As surely as the Kansas City Royals’ opening day ushers in the new season, so do these fresh spring fashions.
Powerful colors, oh-wow prints, a bit of the old and perhaps most important, a sense of optimism mark the fare in stores and magazines meant to lure you into the style game.
While flowers are not new to spring clothes, the latest versions are almost overwhelming. They are often in offbeat sophisticated hues and complex configurations, and they come in every price range.
And yet perhaps because news of the world continues to be disturbing and chaotic, a serene white in clothing and accessories is high on the chart.
The prevailing mood is casual. “Designers have embraced the American lifestyle,” says Kelly Cole, the president of Halls in Kansas City. That means the ladies-who-lunch looks may involve a full, longer skirt with big pockets, a lacy sweater with a loose crochet weave, a nubby textured knit and a top and bottom in unexpected, unmatched patterns.
Nautical stripes, tailored denim pieces and long tunics or dusters are also expected hits, says Roseanne Morrison, fashion director of the Doneger Group, New York retail consultants.
As for shoes, the sandal with heels high enough to trigger a nosebleed is in the stores in bright summer shades, but flats also are on the rise. The low-heeled gladiator sandal with straps snaking audaciously toward the thigh endures season after season.
If there is a jewelry trend, it involves more delicate and low-key pieces and flower-drenched necklaces.
If you can buy one thing to update your closet, it should be wide-legged pants, Cole declares without a pause. They are additions, not replacements, to the skinny, snug shapes so popular in recent times, he says.
More important, they are reminiscent of the palazzo and bell-bottom pants that prevailed in the Age of Aquarius.
They tend to have wide waist bands and usually look best with short tops or, as Cole suggests, a mix of long and short. The pants may be boot-topping or cropped ankle-brushing, languid enough for a formal evening or structured like the familiar 1940s sailor bell-bottoms.
The looks are part of a significant fashion trend to nostalgia. In a style section cover story last month, The New York Times announced the return of the ’70s. Designer Betsey Johnson remembered the era as “silky and caressing” with bell sleeves, fluid silhouettes, “wildly patterned caftans” and, of course, flared pants.
It is a logical move. The fashion industry has been challenged to find irresistible new looks in an age of jeans and T-shirts, says Terry Agins, New York fashion writer and author of “Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight From Fashion Designers.”
“Casual clothes don’t go out of style,” says Agins, a Kansas City native and Wall Street Journal columnist. They have to keep bringing things back.
Meanwhile Emily Baldwin, co-owner at Standard Style boutique, suggests different spring priorities: Add a great classic jacket, maybe a motorcycle style or a blazer in white or navy.
Second, find a novelty sweater with interesting texture and the “boyfriend jean,” a straight, often cropped and cuffed, pant.
“Though flares are getting a lot of attention, ‘boyfriends’ are an emerging trend going into fall,” Baldwin says.
In any event, the fashion conscious are paying attention. Jan Kyle, an interior designer of Kansas City and Palm Beach, Fla., has already added a sweater with the open look of crochet, which she wears over a white camisole. She has also bought a white handbag, black-and-white platform flats and, for that certain swagger, a white fedora.
Fashion fan Millie Edwards Nottingham has two lives: first as a Metropolitan Community College teacher and second, a jazz singer well known to audiences at Unity Temple on the Plaza, where she often appears. Looking at this season, she likes the color white, kitten heels and the convenience of sheath or A-line dresses that she can put on and go.
And she is especially happy about the return of the wide-legged pants. “I feel like I have more room, with the full leg” she says.
Whether you sport a sleek white leather motorcycle jacket, a black and white striped skirt, an oversized rose print blouse or a daffodil from your garden in your hair, the good news is the arrival of spring.
Reporter: Jackie White is the semiretired longtime fashion editor of The Kansas City Star.
Photographer: The Star’s Tammy Ljungblad, with assistance from Beth Welsh.
Model: Amanda Marsh of Talent Unlimited — she was Miss Kansas in 1999.
Hair and makeup styling: Staci Broski of 7th Row Productions.
Editor: The Star’s Sharon Hoffmann, firstname.lastname@example.org
Page designer: The Star’s Barbara Hill-Meyer