Spring blooms are ready to burst in bold patterns and creamy pastels, not just in our tiny Queens strip gardens and brick-house flower boxes but also splashed across freshly styled women’s dresses and yes, the neckties of fashion-forward men.
“Pastels is huge. Floral dresses is huge,” said Jacqueline Quinn, a Long Island City fashion designer. Quinn is creative director for the Sara Emanuel fashion house, sells her own line of clothing and accessories and works as a stylist and fashion consultant for celebrities. She recently consulted on and judged a “Design for Brad Smith” competition for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Brad Smith and dressed 2013 Grammy winner Billy Vera, as well as others for the 2012 and 2013 Grammies.
This year’s spring florals are bold placement prints, as opposed to the familiar all-over pattern that displays evenly dispersed flowers, Quinn said. Placement prints are floral patterns that are repeated every 36 inches when printed on cloth. Shoppers might find a dress or top that places a swath of floral-patterned fabric in a section along the top and repeats the pattern at the hem, or runs the flowers along the side of the garment, for example.
“Dresses will be a key item for the wardrobe,” this spring, Quinn said. She recommends wearing this year’s dresses with a flat pump.
This year’s color palette? Think Italian sorbet. “What I’d call the Grace Kelly colors,” Quinn said. Washed-out pink and soft baby blue are sure to be two commonly spotted colors. They’ve already arrived at retailers such as Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic. One look Quinn likes is a washed-out denim legging with a soft baby blue lace inset panel.
Despite this trend toward quiet colors, there’s still a way to put together a “Look at me!” outfit and stay fashionable.
“One of the things that’s fun to do is pick a shocking color” for accessories, Quinn said. One of her suggestions: a vibrant orange or lime-green purse or belt would add some spark to a pale pastel outfit.
If you don’t have anything riotous on hand, just make sure your accessories do not get all “matchy-matchy” with the rest of your outfit. Peaceful accommodation is no friend of the fashionable this year. Make sure your purse and shoes get into an argument with your dress.
Speaking of arguments, the trend for hemlines is short. No, long.
“Hemlines are very short,” Quinn said, short for spring and even shorter for summer.
But stores are expected to stock clothes for demure moods as well, courtesy of the 1950s. One covered-up option is to go long with an afternoon-tea-length dress or puffy skirt, perfect for keeping your knees to yourself or protecting those gams from ultraviolet rays.
Another fully clothed option is the Audrey Hepburn look. Quinn envisions a pairing of narrow cigarette pants with either a soft knit or retro sleeveless structured top that is cut to fit over the waist and has a prominent darted bust.
Retro lace embellishment is also a trend, Quinn said. Rihanna is wearing the style on the cover of the March issue of Vogue in an abbreviated top made of a substantial black lace fabric. Though the cut reveals as much hip as any casual observer would need to see, the lace defies the ephemeral stereotype usually evoked when we think “lacy.” Instead, the singer is clothed in a feminine yet powerfully substantial garment that stands up to her rock-star image.
Teens, as always, are likely to take advantage of the full range of options, as many fearlessly express themselves through fashion as a route to identity formation. Glamour magazine recommends in an online piece that a skin-showing boxy crop top could be paired with a tea-length skirt to make a gal look taller.
“Crop tops are really big,” and the 13-to-17-year-old set can easily indulge in the look, maybe paired with some high-waisted pants, Quinn said. High-waisted pants are cut in an unbroken line from above the tummy to the ankle in order to elongate the leg, and the 43-to-97 set might easily remember the look, maybe from their own 1970s wardrobes.
For men, perhaps the last remaining male-only garment or accessory is the necktie (though some gents are taking to pocket handkerchiefs again). This year, however, ties take inspiration from women’s styles, especially for casual looks and younger, more fashionable men, according to Nicholas Sackett, a partner with Bill Mountain in the Mountain and Sackett necktie company of Long Island City. Mountain and Sackett does private-label manufacturing and also sells ties directly to customers online and through stores.
“The printed fabrics are making a big comeback,” Sackett said. That means fancy designs such as bold florals, in concert with the women’s trend. These patterns will be seen on cotton and linen ties, fabrics that easily allow for color and pattern in the design.
The men’s florals are not a demure and ladylike version of the women’s prints but equally bold and virile. Liberty prints, an English brand similar to the strongly flamboyant women’s florals of Laura Ashley, will be seen, Sackett said.
“There is a relation to the women’s floral prints,” Sackett said. Fashion currents emanate from the European fashion shows, he said, and in recent years trends have started to cross over from women’s to men’s styles.
“Another thing that has occurred in recent years is that the men’s business has become more like the women’s business in that there are multiple fashion trends going on at the same time,” Sackett said. He said this could mean preppy vineyard vine prints on the East Coast or a Brooklyn hipster look elsewhere. “The men’s industry is able to support different design concepts.”
“The printed tie appeals more to younger people who are looking to wear ties outside of the traditional way,” Sackett said.
For more formal outfits, neckties made of textured fabrics such as raw or crude yarns will offer a fresh option. Some of the textured ties coming out now are made of English Noile and Indian Matka, a crude yarn with slubs, he added.
“The textured fabrics, I think that’s an evolution of the dressy look that’s now giving a little more creativity to the repp stripe, which has been the mainstay of the traditional world,” Sackett said.
If you’re out trend-spotting, look for a tie made of a textured fabric on a businessman running to a meeting at the Citicorp Center and a loud floral-print tie on a 20-something sipping iced chai on a Friday afternoon at MoMA PS1’s M. Wells dinette.
Even those who pay little attention to neckties might notice, as fashions in neckwear have not changed much for quite a while. “The business has been predominantly jacquards in neckties for quite some years,” Sackett said.
The variety and vibrancy of the spring necktie fashions may turn out to be a bit of a coming-out party for the necktie business, which Sackett says has been evolving since the 1980s. That decade, with its yellow “power tie” concept, stands out as an incredibly homogeneous time for the industry.
Today it’s different.
“It’s becoming, and continuing to become, even more, a broad spectrum of design concepts,” he said.