Tripping across the Fashion Universe: Retro-Inspired Must-Haves

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Some years you just have to dress out loud. And maybe laugh when you realize you're old enough to recognize that the saying ''what goes around comes around'' seems to be making the trendsetting rounds again in fashion.

If you're anywhere near the age of Aquarius, this spring you could easily close your eyes and imagine you're dancing in the streets dressed in your jeans, platform sandals and that swingy baby doll top covered with psychedelic-colored flower power.

It does seem that across the fashion universe this spring, vivid colors and stand-out prints are spinning round in stores. For the first time in awhile, no matter what your age, we're all in the mood to snatch them up in order to brighten our wardrobes and our spirits.



Since I am guilty of usually taking the easy route and reaching for black clothing, I surprised myself the other day when I made a mad dash for BCBG's new lemony-yellow patent leather pumps when shopping with my daughter. And I wasn't the only one - I was soon surrounded by several of her 18-year-old friends. We were all oohing and aahing.

''This spring, pack away neutral-toned clothing and accessories, and revive the '60s, '70s and '80s where bold, vibrant colors were all the rage in fashion,'' says T.J. Maxx style expert Sonya Cosentini. ''This is the liveliest color season we have seen since the '80s.''

Here are a few stylish ways Cosentini says to channel your inner hippie this spring:

- Color is one of the main ways you can add some hipness to your closet.

''Take a trip back to the '60s mod scene with eye-popping shades,'' says Cosentini.

Spring's top color choices are lemon yellow, green, orange, cobalt, lilac, fuchsia and cherry red. Even if you love the look of classic black and white, add a pop of color whether it's in an accessory or piece of clothing, like a jacket, for instant style.

''Unite the decades by pairing a standout, vibrant blouse with a pair of wide-leg denim trousers for a hint of a '70s throwback fashion. Accessorize with a colorful, structured, oversized handbag that has small round handles - another retro-throwback.''

- The ever-popular tie-dying of the '60s has made an upscale transformation into this spring's accessories via the ''ombre'' look, adds Cosentini who notes that the trend can be seen everywhere this season on patent leather handbags and shoes. Ombre styles feature different colors, or shades of color, fading into each other.

- Prints are another fast way to do cool this spring. The more dramatic the better: bold florals, abstract graphics, color blocking or even madras plaid. The rule to remember here is when wearing powerful patterns, stick to neutral accessories.

- Dresses are back in a big way, and the long, flowing dresses a la the '60s are looking new again. Pair with flat sandals for an easy look, perfect for a warm weather beach party.

- The empire-style tunics as well as belted waists are still the ideal way to top off jeans this spring, especially the white denims. Look for interesting details such as embroidery, lace, buttons and unique sleeves.

- Shoes also add a touch of '60s and '70s glamour in ankle-tie wedges, gladiator sandals, chunky platforms, embellished flats and strappy sandals.

- Don't forget the love beads. Chunky beaded necklaces are great for a free-spirited look. Ditto stacked bangles, colorful pendants, hoop earrings and cuff bracelets.

Scarves in colorful patterns and retro designs also add hippie charm.

And top it all off with a huge, floppy straw hat.

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.

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