With Spring fast approaching, it's time to dust off those warm-weather essentials you've been dreaming about and start planning your first beachside getaway. It's easy to run straight for your most ruffly, saccharine ensembles after the months of gloomy weather and dark, heavy knits when the weather starts to heat up, but beware the pitfalls of pastels. There's no need to channel your pink tutu-wearing five-year-old self when a few simple tricks will add finesse and urbanity to a colorful ensemble.
Pair Pastels with Leather
If looking too sweet is your concern, try combining your pastels with leather. You may have at least one leather piece in your closet based on its ubiquity in fashion over the past year, and if not, maybe it's time to invest in that perfect leather biker jacket you've been eyeing. After all, there are few things edgier than a worn-in leather jacket, or more sophisticated than a laser-cut leather skirt. For maximum impact, pair a pale, airy dress with a black leather jacket or a pastel chiffon blouse with skinny leather pants. Alternatively, try going tonal in a pastel top and pale leather skirt.
Choose a Contrasting Statement Belt
There are few fashion conundrums that a belt can't fix, and a statement belt is just the thing to add an unexpected edge to a twee ensemble. Whether you're wearing a ruffled lavender dress or a turquoise top and aquamarine skirt, a darker, textured belt will increase the allure. Try a belt that complements the base colors in your outfit, such as a grey belt for cooler shades of blue and green, or a brown belt for pink or orange ensembles. Unexpected texture adds extra polish to the outfit, so instead of a simple leather belt, try an edgy python print or metallic undertones.
Pick Boldly Printed Pastels
Prints liven up any outfit, whether you love a graphic black and white pattern or an on-trend, vibrant tribal pattern. And a pastel ensemble with subtle ornamentation can take you from charming to striking. For a twist on the classic pastel floral motif, try an abstract, silk-screened pattern.
Try a Metallic Hue
If you're not afraid of going bold with your pastels, try adding in a piece with metallic undertones. Lanvin showed a series of stunning metallic ensembles in a range of hues from pale apricot to blush pink on their Spring 2014 runway, and Milly showcased pieces in sweet pastel colors with a heavy metal edge. In order to steer clear of disco ball territory, chose one piece in a light metallic shade and anchor the ensemble with a piece in a neutral color like cream, black, or grey.
Look For Structured Pieces
There is nothing worse than being mistaken for a Marshmallow Peep on Easter due to an overly voluminous, pastel getup. To prevent such familial humiliation, look for pastel pieces with sharp lines and structure. Fit is everything in fashion, but comes into play especially when attempting trends like pastels which could easily veer into juvenile territory. A pink flared skirt may test the bounds of sophistication, while a slim pink pencil skirt looks both modern and chic. Leave ruffles and volume for another day, and try pastel pieces with fitted, body-skimming lines.
Rock Some Cutouts
Few things add instant appeal to an outfit the way strategic cutouts do, especially when featured in an otherwise demure pastel ensemble. No one will dare accuse you of looking childish or cloyingly colorful in a cutout dress. For maximum impact, try a dress with side or back cutouts, which tend to be slightly more modest but equally modern and edgy.
Pair Your Pastels with Edgy Accessories
When adding balance to an overly precious ensemble, never underestimate the peer of edgy accessories. A studded clutch and gold bike chain necklace would make even a prim lace shift seem avant garde, and a stack of chunky bangles is the perfect offbeat accent for a pastel ensemble. If you want to stay especially on-trend with your accessories, a glitzy ear cuff, hand chain bracelet, or multicolored gems are the perfect addition to a pastel outfit.
Add Distressed Denim
If looking your Sunday best isn't the goal of your pastel attire, try a sweet, cotton candy-colored top with a pair of distressed jeans and heels. Adding the insouciance of casual, worn-in jeans to a ladylike pastel blouse takes an ensemble from lackluster to intriguing. And as an added bonus, the look is perfectly comfortable for lunching with friends or lounging in the park on a lazy Sunday.
Include Some Sporty Stripes
One of the best ways to break up a pastel ensemble is by using stripes. Luckily, Spring 2014 brings with it the athletic couture trend, making stripes a surefire way to channel the most current runway styles and ensure that your pastel ensemble looks fresh and modern. Just make sure to keep the rest of your ensemble minimalist; the focus should be on the bold stripes and beautiful pastel shade.