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Why wait? Plan your New Years early.



by Amanda

You've had enough of this "cold" business. Your parka with the faux-fur trim isn't quite as much fun to put on as it once was. You may even have broken down and attempted to squeeze long johns under your pants. And while mukluks are cute, let's face it - you'd rather be wearing sandals.

Winter is sticking with us for a while longer, but there's no reason why we can't indulge in a few springtime reveries in the meantime. Montreal stores are already stockpiling the clothes and accessories that you'll be wearing as you cavort in the sunshine at the Tam Tams or sip a martini on the Main, and this season, you can do all of it while looking perfectly pretty. So what to put on your warmer-weather shopping list?

Carrying over from fall and winter 2004, it's all in the details for spring. Beading, buttons, trim, and embroidery continue to be popular touches in everything from prairie-influenced looks to the luxurious Victorian aesthetic that designers Anna Sui, Perry Ellis and Alexander McQueen are using in their collections. We'll see these details in everything from the smaller-scale, intricate patterns used in homespun button-up shirts to corsets and bustiers that look like they belong in Marie Antoinette's closet.

18th-century opulence, while certainly present on the runways in its unadulterated form, will also be slightly softened this season to result in a fairy tale-esque parade of diaphanous gowns and skirts. Dreamsicle-hued chiffon, crisp pinafore, and buttery satin were staples in the spring fashion shows. Taking a cue from the world of haute couture, mass market retailers such as Bebe (www.bebe.com) and Le Chateau (www.le-chateau.com), with their "Sunday Best" collection, are also incorporating the "dreamy ingenue" look into their spring collections. The result is a delectable blend of classic femininity and startling fantasy - and there isn't a trace of 2004's menswear influence in sight.

Complementing the make-believe aura of this spring's looks is a movement towards extravagant (but deceivingly inexpensive) jewelry worn with everything. Who says wearing a T-shirt means you can't also be dripping with semiprecious stones? There's no shame in wearing costume jewelry (also known as "paste jewelry") these days, as penny-pinching fashion lovers will be glad to know. FYI, big, sparkly brooches are still hanging on as the accessory du jour, so wear yours with pride - and a twinkle in your eye.

Another massive trend on the horizon is ethnic and earth-influenced pieces. The practical girl will delight in simple flats laced with rope or featuring neutral beading, while those who prefer to be noticed can take the look up a couple of notches with five-inch wedge heels (huge for spring) and sparkling, Indian-influenced turquoise and gold accents. Both looks are equally fashionable for spring, meaning that you'll find items you love in the stores whether you're low-maintenance or a little more of a glamazon. Just make sure that the pieces you choose have an interesting accent or two, and you'll be right in step.





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