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Spring Fashion 2012: Shedding the winter layers

By Jenna O'Brien and Georgie Flynn
On March 22, 2012

  • Sophomore nursing major Elizabeth Archambault wears a long printed maxi dress, which is breezy yet fashionable this spring. Jenna O'Brien/ Photo Editor
  • Freshman Digital Media Arts and English major Sarah Rodes wears a printed skirt with a bright cardigan. Jenna O'Brien/ Photo Editor
  • Second year Pharmacy major Brittany Knable wears bright prints in a modern color blocking style. Jenna O'Brien / Photo Editor
  • Sophomore Information Systems Managment major Mike Cammarata pairs bright shorts with a neutral button down shirt and boat shoes. Jenna O'Brien/ Photo Editor

It's rare for the first week of spring to actually feel like spring in Pittsburgh, but with temperatures in the 70s, Duquesne students have already officially traded their winter coats, knitted caps and mittens for short shorts, T-shirts and sandals.

But the season's unexpected arrival may have caught some of us stylish types off guard with ill-equipped closets. While you're out scrambling to catch your wardrobe up with the weather, keep an eye out for these warm-weather trends.

Lighten up with pastels, chambray

Denim, the ever faithful material that is appropriate for every season, makes its stylish appearance this spring in high-waisted denim shorts, cutoff shorts, button-up shirts and shirt dresses. But with the temperatures rising by the day, denim may make you a little too hot and sweaty; opt for a denim-look-alike, chambray, instead. It's a lighter and more comfortable denim that you can find in Forever 21, H&M and Banana Republic.

Don't shy away from rocking denim's most daring spring trend: a Canadian tuxedo. Be a denim devil for a day, and pair a denim shirt with a pair of denim cutoffs, or denim jeans with a denim vest. Just be sure to contrast the shades of denim, and sport a mullet while you're at it. An excellent fashion icon who has set this trend is Rihanna.

"I love how Rihanna dresses. She combines fashion staples that you don't usually see, such as Jean on Jean. She is a real trend-setter," said Alex Mlavetz, a sales associate at Figleaf on the South Side's East Carson Street.

Neutrals are a safe and exquisite bet especially if you want to play it safe, but don't shy away from colors completely. Pastels may accentuate your personality along with your skin tone. Mint green and lilac are in this spring and will make you stand out from the crowd.

"This spring, I am obsessed with my mint green top," Minton said. "It's vintage, and it's so simple. I can wear it with anything."

A pair of pastel shorts looks great on most legs - this goes for guys as well. These fresh colors look great on your fingertips, if you are willing to metamorphose your polish selection from the dark colors of winter.

For men, classy is the best way to approach this spring. For example, cuffing your jeans is a simple way to give your outfit a more clean-cut look. Pairing cuffed jeans with boat shoes or loafers will make your bottom-half even more sophisticated.

"Guys can pull of a one-inch cuff with boat shoes. This makes a huge difference and will make a man look more put together," Minton said.

Saved by the '90s

If you're lacking some inspiration for your wardrobe this spring, look to the '90s. Netflix offers some '90s classics, including My So Called Life and Blossom that offer creative insights for this spring.

"I would love to see the '90s come back, but with a better fit," said Louisa Silano, a sales associate at East Carson's vintage store Yesterday's News. "Because I grew up in the '90s, I loved the patterns and the materials."

Kate Minton, owner of Highway Robbery, a vintage store that opened on East Carson last September, said certain '90s trends can be stylish without being tacky. Color-blocking shapes resemble geometric patterns of the 90s without being too Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

"I think the most accessible thing for girls is to own a bright oversized top," Minton said. "You can wear it with anything like a mini-skirt, pencil skirt, skinny jeans, denim cut-offs, as a bathing suit cover."

Bold color blocking can transition into a bright staple of this spring's fashion. But be careful; the line between bright and Rainbow-Brite Monster is slim. You can make neon more sophisticated by balancing bright colors with neutrals - "for example, a simple white button down with a bright skirt," Minton said.

There are a lot of great vintage looks this spring, but a few you should avoid. Feathers would be one. Keep them out of your hair, off your earrings, and away from your head in general, unless you're Pocahontas.

"Feather earrings are overdone," said Victoria Minnich, manager of Figleaf.

Reduce, Reuse, Restyle

If your college-kid budget is keeping you from revamping your warm-weather wardrobe, try some easy DIY projects that make for quick, chic one-of-a-kind pieces.  

Silano suggested an easy and stylish look you can throw together in a hot second.

"My favorite look for spring is probably cut-off shorts, a deep V-neck and a pair of cowboy boots to spruce up the outfit," she said.

A good investment for this spring's trendy dresser is a pair of scissors. Do you have an old pair of jeans that are completely out of style from a few years ago? Cut them. Do you have that shirt that you just don't care for anymore? Dice it and turn it into that fun-loving crop top that is perfect for a spring day, or cut the sleeves off and be the toughest guy/girl on campus.

"Girls can always cut their skirts and shorten them for spring time," Silano said.

Turn that out-of-date maxi-skirt into a mini. If you are brave enough to make your hemlines shorter, then you have the courage for anything.

Bright colors, patterns, jorts; whatever you choose to throw on your body this spring, have fun with it. And work it on A-walk.

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