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Published:December 19th, 2006 06:05 EST
Volume Pants, Tent Dresses, Oh MY!

Volume Pants, Tent Dresses, Oh MY!


Those radiant 5`10 " beauties may be able to saunter down the runway at New York Fashion Week looking polished and poised, but how do the rest of us prevent from looking like an overpriced version of a bag lady? Not to mention the plethora of fabrics to choose from next season, from shiny silks to gorgeous linens, and the array of floral prints every dress seems to be available in!

Don`t get me wrong " after seeing the vamped-up designs of Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs or Diane von Furstenberg at New York Fashion Week, I (like any other sane fashion junkie) am officially so over Winter trends and pining for Spring to hit the racks. But with so many literally weighty options o n the horizon, I only have two choices: either add an extra four inches to my now 5`5 " frame, or learn to tote these styles with grace. Let`s start with the latter.

The Dress

You`ve seen them before, and they aren`t going anywhere for a while; pocket and tent dresses are becoming a staple for any fashion-savvy chica next Spring. Especially if you dare to down the pouf (which overruled von Furstenberg`s runway look) theses outfits run the risk of turning into maternity wear. Feel safe by adding dark opaque tights to slim down the legs and elongate the look. Stock up on navies and grays; black runs the risk of being too unruly what with all of bright and sassy colors out this season. As for the shoes, who says only heels can make your stems look, well, stem-y? Flats, my ladies, can be done! Opt for silver ballets, or a shimmery contrasting color that stands out. These ideas create a visual separation from the dress to the rest of your body.

As for our top portion, it`s your pick. If you were blessed with shapely arms, or you`re unlike most Americans and you actually pump iron, slide a tight quarter-length tee underneath. Boat-neck or turtle necked styles are fine. Make certain it`s a stretchy fabric, perhaps a jersey knit, to enhance your natural shape.

Another way to dress up this already hot look is to incorporate another hot trend of the season: wide and cropped jackets. Open or closed, with or without layers, these jackets give the impression of a high waistline. Better switch from the flats to a chunky heel with this addition, however! So much fabric, and you`ll look squashed. Volume Pants

Ah, the trend seems to never go away. Just when we thought skinny jeans could go with anything, MC Hammer seems to be at it again. Don`t let yourself look like a flashback to the eighties by adding a long heel and a high-waisted belt to the equation over a fitted tank. Choose one that matches the shade of the pant. Think: à la Fendi, who took the style to an all-new level this season in a very noir set. Still too daring? Try forsaking the belt for those cropped yet chunky blazers also hitting the markets this spring. It is possible to put volume on the hips and shoulders without looking like a cream puff! Just make sure they are streamlined and fitted; never buy a jacket two sizes too big just to make it " look voluminous. The best way to add inches to your pant legs is with a light fabric, preferably soft and smooth like silk. The idea here is typically to hug at the ankle, and float over the jambs.

Fashion warning: This is one of those rare trends that I suggest not to go frugal on. Invest in the properly tailored, or run the risk of looking like balloon-butt.

Sugar and Spice this Spring

Designers entice us this Spring with new opaque prints and sheer, swishy fabrics to bring the femme back in femme fatale. The even more hard-to-miss option is the bright peacock colors dominating the runways. Do we swish, or do we sophisticate in neon colors and sparkles?

Summery dresses and jackets are playing up the oh-so-sexy version of everything-nice, even putting big (and we mean huge) flower detailing or eyelets on already heavily printed garments. Be careful with this look! Some outfits may look great through the camera lens, but when viewed over coffee with friends, can be quite a daunting experience.

As usual, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein got these floaty gowns just right. But Naeem Khan presented an absolutely mouth watering collection that holds together the two elements of color and movement flawlessly. She blesses us with both bright colors and simple shades to sum up Spring wear. If you`re not in the mood to shed the holiday weight through your pocketbook, plunge head first into your local thrift store. Vintage wear is at its hottest now. Keep eyes peeled for classic high necklines with encrusted jewels.

When it`s simple, it`s neutral. Dresses should play with whites and grays, or light khakis. If you`re downing an empire-waisted dress, feel free to bring out the brown cinched belt to accentuate the waistline. One designer even traded in this look for a long ribbon. Ease up on the jewelry here. The key to wearing a great dress is by letting it speak for itself. One long piece is your best bet in Spring; fashionistas beware! Do not leave the long pearl necklace (properly knotted, of course) out of your collection this season!


Though the choices this coming season are overwhelming, fear not! The explosion of fabrics on the runway are actually lifesavers in disguise (well, almost disguise). Take the volume pants look mentioned above, for example. It`s easy in this mountain of clothing for each individual piece to become a little lost. That`s why designers have been mixing and matching with soft shiny silks, thick knits, or soft layers to make each article count. By adding so many textures to your outfit, it creates a sense of uniformity (hence the difference between Zac Posen and a bag lady). It limits the number of legal color options, so stick with similar shades when doing many textures. No matter what, in each outfit you must maintain a sense of pattern, a flow or connection from one piece to the next. A good rule of thumb: one going for many colors or prints limits the amount of textures. If you want to stick with similar color families, spice it up with daring fabric combos!