Spring and early summer weather is unpredictable so it's hard to know what to wear. The mornings can be cool and windy and by afternoon, it may be hot and dry. In Northern California, when we look outside and see sun, we think it's short sleeve and sandal weather. However, when we actually step outdoors, we quickly begin to shiver.
So what can women wear this time of year that will be comfortable, practical, and fashionable when we go to work in the morning, then to a lunchtime outing, and then to some after-hours fun? Layers! Layered clothing has always been a great way of dealing with weather changes, as any seasoned traveler will tell you, but the layers of today are not like your mother's layering. Gone is the hoody over the sweater and t-shirt. You can be stylish and accommodate your active lifestyle as well.
Let's start with bottoms. A lightweight wool trouser or a heavyweight linen can be worn this time of year. Also, dress jeans and polyester rayon blends are good for you wash-and-wear gals. It's not time for lightweight linens or cottons yet so these other choices should carry you through until summer hits in earnest. Capris are still being shown this year, but you may want to choose a more tailored style and fabric than the ones we wear to the lake or beach. Even tailored Bermuda shorts can be worn with a suit jacket or cardigan nowadays.
For the most contemporary look, try skinny pants hemmed at the ankle. These can be worn with a flat loafer for work or a wedge for a dressier look. Paired with a man's shirt and a lightweight cardigan, you will look polished and professional and feel comfortable no matter what type of weather you experience. Just be sure the leg of the pant is in proportion with the rest of your body. For us bigger gals, a stove pipe leg actually evens out the figure and gives the illusion of a "skinny" leg.
Also big this year are leggings. (Am I hearing groans from those of us who "did that" in the '80s?) You have to admit they are comfortable and, topped with a big shirt or a short dress, it's a great look for the spring weather.
On top, a tank top is a good first layer for those of us who still show our arms. If we like to cover up, a short or three-quarter length sleeve is practical. This layer can be lightweight linen, polyester, silk, or stretch cotton. Over this layer, consider a jacket made from cotton, denim, linen, or even a lightweight wool. And jackets, too, can have elbow or three-quarter length sleeves. I've even seen jackets with sleeves bunched up at the elbows and stitched in place so you get the scrunched look without having to constantly fuss with it.
Accessories can really finish off a look. Scarves are big again, and for a particularly cool morning, wrapped a couple of times, they can keep the wind off your neck and back and provide a finished look. Necklaces layered with a jacket or blouse can add glamour to your work outfit and be appropriate for an after-dinner drink with friends.
If you've been looking at fashion websites, shoes are really tall and either spiked or chunky. I have to admire those women who can wear them, but for the rest of us, flats and wedges are still in style and provide variety in our wardrobes. But don't stick with black and brown. Colorful shoes are very much in style for spring and summer, along with colorful bags. And we don't have to match, either. A really great printed bag with a colorful shoe can dress up even the most basic business suit.
As always, my fashion advice is to go with a style that works for your body type and profession. Have fun with it, and of course if you need help tweaking the fit or style, call your alterationist or tailor right away.
Finally, you should remember this is wedding and prom season, so the longer you wait to make your appointment, the longer it takes to get your clothes back.
Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or [email protected]