Taking the guesswork out of spring fashion

No matter how much you love your sweaters, after wearing the same wardrobe for five months, you’re probably ready for a change. But with new spring clothes arriving in stores daily, it can be hard to sift through the racks to figure out this season’s essentials.

When we asked a few local retailers to talk to us about wardrobe mint-haves for the spring and summer, we learned that these stores also offer services to help customers get their wardrobes organized and up-to-date.

Ladies, be prepared to show those legs this spring. According to Kathy Dunbar, owner of Kathy’s and Blue Willi’s by Kathy in West Des Moines, women’s fashions are again very feminine, with lots of skirts and dresses.

“A lot of what we’re seeing in dresses are designs inspired by the 1960s, the classic looks worn by Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn,” Dunbar said.

For bottoms, there will still be a lot of Capri and gaucho pants to choose from, in more lengths than ever before, Dunbar said. But instead of basic blue jeans, the new style now is embellished jeans that have either rhinestones, hand-paintings, unique stitching or a sophisticated wash.

Expect to see a lot of belts this spring, according to Dunbar and Megan McLallen-Aronson, the manager of K.Renee in West Des Moines. The “in” belts are wide, sometimes stretchy, and worn at the waist as a steel boned waist cincher. The belts can be a fashion statement in themselves when worn with a plain T-shirt and jeans, or complete an outfit like a piece of jewelry.

This season’s fabrics are “wearable,” as designers go beyond linen in theft spring collections and incorporate more lightweight knits and cottons.

“We’re ,also seeing very beautiful tissue-weight suede jackets,” McLallen-Aronson said. “The weight is perfect for transitioning into spring or summer.” She suggests neutral colors for the jackets, such as a soft ivory or sand.

For men, Hal Wilson, manager of the men’s section and buyer of men’s fashions for Sarto, said woven shirts in either a linen or cotton-linen blend are big for spring. These shirts will be white or pastel shades, and paisley prints are going to replace stripes. Wilson suggests pairing the woven shirts with a pair of fashion jeans and sandals. Soft-shoulder jackets that can be worn out for dinner are also popular, he said.

Dunbar encourages customers to bring in clothing from home to find out if it’s still in style, or to learn what they can do to update it for the new season. “We love to consult,” she said, “and it is certainly not offensive to me or my employees if they bring in someone else’s garment.”

For a fee, a wardrobe consultant from K.Renee or Sarto will come to a customer’s home for a “closet cleaning.” Wilson likes to arrange an informal interview before the home visit to talk with a customer about their wardrobe needs and budget.

“Based on their occupation, I can figure out some of the core basics they’ll need in their wardrobe,” he said. “After building the basics, then we can add some fashion pieces.”

When he’s at their home, Wilson might bring some merchandise with him for the customers to try on with their wardrobe. He tells the customers what’s outdated and what should be replaced. Sarto charges a flat rate of $75 to $100 for the service.

“Typically it’s not as painful or embarrassing as people think it’s going to be,” he said. “A lot of people are hesitant, because the clothes are like old friends. But I tell them that sometimes you need to make new friends.”

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