Warmer weather means we are finally free from heavy coats, boots and all the cumbersome accoutrements winter weather brings. So, it’s time to lighten up, literally. Shed your winter skin for some great spring fashion classics that will do you right every time — and the best part is you’ll probably find most of these hanging in your closet already.
Universally classic, but never dull, these are the building blocks for endless looks in seasonless fabrics and styles. Start with these 10 iconic items and you can assemble the perfect spring wardrobe that (bonus!) can last you for years to come.
A knee-length (or slightly above) shift dress is the perfect, chic little number for spring. It’s the most universally flattering silhouette, with a simple, straight shape that falls from the shoulders to the hem. Tailored, sharp and modern, this classic style is always the perfect fit.
Solid navy, black or white can give you a cool, mod look while fun, jazzy stripes and prints add a touch of personality. Keep your jewelry to a minimum and pair with a structured handbag. Wear neat pumps or ballet flats for a perfectly finished look.
Our pick: Joe Fresh’s Abstract Stripe Shift Dress, $39
Living somewhere between a high heel and an espadrille, the classic wedge could become your go-to shoes for nearly every spring occasion. Typically built on a comfortable cork or raffia sloped heel with a cushiony platform underneath the toes, the wedge gives you height, comfort, mobility and chic all in one. Wedges can morph from open toe sandals to peep toe pumps, but whichever form you choose, this is one style that really does it all.
Our pick: Skechers’ Cutting Edge Ahead Wedges, $50.00, in Black
Navigating spring temperatures outside, and in, can be tricky. Chilly in the morning, but burning hot in the afternoon or perfect outside but meat-locker cold indoors, these are just some of the scenarios we face on a daily basis. Having a cozy cardi on hand is the perfect solution.
The oversized cardigan in a chunky knit with a deep v-neck and slouchy patch pockets feels like you borrowed it from your husband or your granddad. It has that effortless appeal that, when tossed over your look, imparts an air of Parisian chic that makes you want to say, “What? This old thing?”
Style it over skinny trousers and pointy toed shoes, belt it over a little black dress or narrow pencil skirt, or wear it like a blazer over a button-down shirt and tailored trousers adorned with crystal brooches. Don’t be afraid to play with the proportions. Make sure you pick one that has an oversized fit. If not, go one size up.
Our pick: Topshop’s Clean Rib Cardigan, $84.00 in Pale Grey
This is one accessory that can easily become an obsession. Scarves are a great finishing touch to many looks and add a touch of softness, color, pattern and warmth when we need it. A solid scarf draped softly around the neck plays up a more modern aesthetic, but if you choose an animal or floral print you’re conveying a more whimsical feel. Lightweight modal, cashmere and super soft synthetics are the best fabrics for transitional seasons like spring and are perfect for travel.
Our pick: Nordstrom’s Primal Scarf, $38.00 in Orange
Pleated Midi Skirt
Part school-girl, part geek chic, there’s something so classically smart about a pleated skirt. With its deeply-set crisp folds and modest length, it always manages to look fresh and subtly flirty. One of the most versatile garments a woman can own, a pleated skirt looks just as elegant and modern with a plain white t-shirt and men’s brogues as it does with a cashmere crewneck and a strand of pearls.
Choose a style that skims the body without a lot of fullness, particularly around the hips. Stick to the classic knee-length for more wearability. Pair it with pumps, ballet flats or punky booties. This skirt can work with most everything and floats effortlessly from winter to spring to summer to fall, and back again.
Our pick: Zara’s Knee-Length Fine Pleat Skirt, $79.90 in Navy
Free yourself from cumbersome clutches and heavy totes and adopt the good old classic cross-body satchel. Springtime is the ideal moment to feel liberated and this simple little bag can help you get into that mindset with lighter layers and an editing down of the contents you carry.
While the satchel has an old-school, utilitarian feel, it’s also a style that works with just about anything (except for a ball gown). Pair it with jeans, soft bohemian looks and even suits. It’s extremely versatile so choose one with a minimum of detail in a good neutral like a rich saddle color or black.
Our pick: Mango’s Cross Body Flap Bag, $39.99
I’m not usually a huge fan of ponchos. But if it can shield you from spring’s frequent downpours, I’m all for it. As much as I love trench coats, I do find that when there’s warm weather humidity in the air, a trench can make you sweat.
A good weather-proof poncho made in a high-quality tech fabric protects your clothes and lets your body breathe. This is an investment you’ll be thanking yourself for time and again.
Our pick: Ilse Jacobsen’s Women’s Rain Poncho, $103.20 in Black
Sometimes the coolest, freshest looks stem from the most classic pieces. Case in point, the classic prep blazer neatly tailored with patch pockets and gold buttons. A stand-alone fitted blazer not only pulls together other separates in your wardrobe but can dress things up (or down) in a freshly unconventional way.
Pair this lightweight wool blazer, ideal for warmer spring weather, with khakis, a brightly colored slim trouser or pencil skirt or even with a full skirt in a dressier fabric or bold print. Layer a skinny crewneck sweater underneath it or a simple Breton stripe tee. The best classic pieces have the ability to be a mix-master in your closet.
Our pick: Talula’s Exeter Blazer, $125 in Charcoal
Bright Lip Color
Signal your excitement for spring with a wash of hot color on your lips. For the minimum investment of a single tube of lipstick you can brighten up your skin tone, your outfit and your mood, all in one fell swoop. It might be the oldest trick in the book, but it’ll never let you down.
Our pick: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Lipcreme, $18.00, in Love Forever!
Highly collectible and seriously covetable, vintage costume jewelry is now commanding the price points of fine jewelry. But just because you’re not shelling out $3,000 for a rhinestone necklace from the ‘40s doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some fabulous pieces that are inspired by these iconic designs.
Channel the high style of Hollywood in the 1950s with a sparkling crystal brooch. Create a splash with a cluster in a mix of shapes and colors at your neckline, on a lapel and even on a fabric handbag. The more unusual the mix, the better.