Brave, bold world: Floral prints, geometric designs, primary colors come on strong

By LaReeca Rucker

As Mississippians eagerly await a steady stream of sunny, playful days, the fashionably conscious will "get happy" this season with bright colors, make a definite statement in black and white, and fantasize about upcoming vacations in tropical and floral prints.

The three themes emerged at a recent Jackson fashion show, and local style experts say adopting one or all is sure to put a spring in your step.

Updating the '60s

The flower children of the 1960s and '70s were the first generation to adopt loud, bold colors like orange and yellow, bright bohemian greens and purples, and clothing designed with optical art and kaleidoscope prints.

In the 1980s, there was a resurgence of color with different schemes. Geometric shapes with primary and neon colors were trendy. But color must have faded into the background for a while; otherwise we wouldn't recognize it as a new trend. The bold colors used today seem more reflective of earlier decades, a retro-modern celebration of 1960s and '70s fashion.

Jackson fashion stylist Darrell Wilson said bright colors are a must.

"If you are afraid of color, you are in trouble for spring and summer of 2008," he said, adding that it's time to embrace yellow.

"Yellow is one of the biggest colors of the season," said Wilson, organizer and emcee for the recent Dress for Success fashion show at the Country Club of Jackson. Wilson opened the show with models dressed in yellow.

"I just wanted to show the audience that there are many different shades of yellow," he said. "It's a happy color, and it just speaks of the season. It can be used with white, chocolate and any shade of green, and it's beautiful with turquoise.

"It's easy to kind of have a black uniform, but color makes it fresh and happy. If you are wearing a basic black suit, interject your favorite color."

Keith Kinkade co-owns The Rogue & Good Company in Jackson with Luke Abney. He agrees that brighter colors have returned in many different fabrics. Warmer weather calls for silks, linen and cotton.

"Our climate gets so hot," he said, "Customers want to be as comfortable as possible."

Kinkade said orange and turquoise are popular bright colors, as well as yellow. And white jeans are being paired with all three trends.

Black and white

Always a classic, black and white remains forever in style. This season features retro geometric prints in black and white.

"Black and white always works," said Wilson. "It stays fresh, and it's easy. You can punch up black and white with turquoise accessories. It's one of the biggest looks this season."

Tropical patterns

Maybe it's wishful thinking or the desire to vacate to a land of clear blue waters and swaying palms, but Wilson said tropical and floral prints are all the rage.

"They are so popular because more and more people are taking trips to tropical places, and we are at a time when destination weddings are more popular than ever," Wilson said.

More than 500,000 couples plan destination weddings each year, according to the Sell More Weddings Web site. The Association of Wedding Professionals says destination weddings will continue to rise in 2008 as wedding costs escalate, and the better-valued areas will be the Caribbean and Mexico. And Top Wedding Links reports that Hawaii, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands are among the top wedding destinations.

"That's why I think all the tropical prints are huge," Wilson said. "If you can't be in a tropical place, you can wear them and pretend you are."

Charitable cause

Wilson said he was elated to be part of the fashion show that benefited the Jackson organization Dress for Success.

"It's such a phenomenal cause," he said.

Cassandra Johnson, program coordinator for Dress for Success Metro Jackson, said the annual event helps raise money to provide services for clients.

"We are a nonprofit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life," Johnson said. "We have been here in Jackson for about six years."

Johnson said the organization always needs donations.

"We are always in need of interview-appropriate attire, accessories and shoes," she said.

Financial contributions are also welcome.

"And we're looking for women who can volunteer their services and assist with the daily operations of the organization," she said.