In Europe and New York, the spring 2011 runways last summer and fall were filled with daring trends. For men, it was camp shirts at Gucci, allover white at Dolce & Gabbana, and jute-soled shoes at Prada. For women, it was lace at Nina Ricci, hyper prints at Proenza Schouler, and wide stripes at Jil Sander.
But let’s be honest: A head-to-toe runway look doesn’t translate in the office, especially in Minnesota. So how do you look professional while showing off your personal style here in the land of 10,000 lakes? We asked a few local retailers for ways to make spring’s trends work for the Twin Cities office.
For women, bold prints dominated the spring runways. “At Diane von Furstenberg’s show, there were a lot of prints on top of prints,” says Susan Sun, owner of OPM Boutique in St. Louis Park. “Here in Minnesota, people are really afraid of prints. They’ll do color, but not necessarily [bold patterns].” To make this trend work for the office, pair a solid top with a printed skirt. “Or start with a basic print on top and pair it with a more complicated print on the bottom,” Sun says.
For men, it’s all about fit this spring. “Clothing right now is being driven by silhouette more than fabrics,” says Chuck Simpkins, consultant at Hubert White in Minneapolis. “The fit is a little trimmer, shorter, and tighter.” Try a two-button, side-vented coat with a pair of flat-front or single-pleat trousers. Slim ties have come into fashion, so opt for a 1.5-inch tie instead of a wide one.
“Trust simplicity,” says Keith Dorsett, proprietor of Elsworth Menswear in Minneapolis. “You don’t have to put too much on. Basic colors in suits allow for the most use, and the most important aspect in suiting is fit.”
For the Man Brand
Business formal: Invest in a navy or gray suit that you can wear year-round. The jacket can have one or two buttons instead of three. “Two-button suit jackets have proven to be versatile in that they can worn a little shorter for a more modern, hip look,” Dorsett says. You also can add a patterned pocket square or colorful tie to update your suit for spring.
Business casual: You can’t go wrong with a sport coat/dress pant combination. Sport coats in gray or camel work well for spring. For an updated take on the navy blazer, get it with gray buttons instead of classic brass ones, and pair it with khakis. For an even more causal look, try a sport shirt in a gingham pattern, a lightweight sweater, or a two-button polo shirt in a bright color. “In the recession, a lot of designers were safe,” Dorsett says. “Now we’re seeing a resurgence of color.”
Extras: “I think red is making a big comeback in accessories, shirts, and neckwear,” Simpkins says. Also, never underestimate the power of a great pair of shoes. Dorsett recommends purchasing a pair of brown Oxford lace-ups for spring.
Women’s Work—and Play
Business formal: Add a bold accessory, such as an asymmetrical necklace or a statement ring, to a classic suit or shift dress. “A fun accessory will add flair to a serious look,” Sun says. It’s also the season to borrow from the boys. Menswear suiting showed up on the runways of Dries Van Noten and Derek Lam. For a toned-down version of this look, ditch the oversized blazer and opt for a fitted, feminine top paired with long, menswear-inspired trousers.
Business casual: A wrap dress in jersey fabric is both casual and comfortable when the weather warms up. “Jersey and thicker silks are great fabrics for spring,” Sun says. Jersey fabric doesn’t wrinkle, and thick silks have a more structured, professional look than thin, sheer ones.
Extras: “If you wear a lot of neutral colors, a bright bag adds a bit of flair to your ensemble,” says Sun, who is a fan of purses from the English luxury brand Mulberry. Purple is a great choice, but you can also try vibrant spring colors such as yellow or green.
New Wave in Color: Opt for this “Zenio” striped tie by Bruno Piatelli. $39.99, Elsworth.
Gray Matters: Gray suits provide an excellent transition from winter to fall. And they can go either business formal or business casual, as this slim-silhouette Jack Victor suit shows.
Time on Your Side: Color accents add surprise and punch to a business look. This Michael Kors wristwatch unites function with fun.
Hard-Working Handbag: This versatile Mulberry bag comes with a detachable strap.