This winter, accessorizing was a no-brainer: don your Uggs, or your Ugg rip-offs, and you immediately scream, “I am absolutely de rigueur.” You could be wearing them with ratty sweatpants and a shapeless North Face parka, but the mere fact that you had those Uggs made you hot, right? In the winter, when your feet are your most visible extremity, you can get away with such minimal accessorizing.
But as the weather warms up, you’ll need to get a little gutsier. Accessorizing becomes more exciting for the fashionably inclined and more complicated for the fashionably impaired. Now that you’re baring more skin, you’ve got a whole host of new body parts to decorate.
The easiest way for the ladies to get that up-to-the-moment Ugg cache for spring is to max out their jewelry, no longer hidden under hats and scarves. Earrings are gigantic this spring — they had better hang all the way to your shoulders and be a Day-Glo hue like pink or yellow, or they’re not worth wearing. The same goes for bracelets — they should be big, bright, and plastic. The ’80s resurrection attains new heights this spring, which means the more plastic, the better. There is plastic galore at Urban Outfitters, in colorful geometric shapes and giant seashells. Even at Alexia Crawford, where it’s been pearls and pearls alone since as far back as anyone can remember, big square bangles and chunky plastic necklaces dominate. So put away your dainty pearls, your chandelier earrings, and — for the love of God — your “Return to Tiffany’s” ID tags, and get big and bold.
If you are more of an earth child, and the potential tacky factor of plastic is too much for you to stomach, feathers, leather fringe, big open-faced roses, and natural shell and wooden bracelets are also featured in Urban’s spring jewelry line. For men’s jewelry this spring, the crunchy theme is central. However, my perennial recommendation for gentlemen is to find an original piece of jewelry — a bracelet, or necklace, preferably from another continent, and just never take it off. This excludes gold chains from Sicily and Abercrombie beads that were MADE IN CHINA. The point is to establish the piece as a signature “I am confident enough in my manhood to wear ethnic jewelry but I am not a metrosexual” token.
Shoes are heading in the same direction as jewelry. Step into Thom Brown on Broadway and you will be assaulted with a rainbow of neon. There is no tasteful brown leather or sensible clogs in their spring offerings. However, once you have resigned yourself to being loud, you have a wide range of choices in terms of style. For those who love Uggs because they are actually comfortable, take advantage of the fact that this year sneakers are truly fashionable for both men and women. These days, a hot pair of yellow Pumas that say, “I’m not trying to be chic” are the chicest thing going. Chuck Taylors, especially high-tops, are making a major comeback. For those who would like to dress it up a bit, look for pumps and sandals in the same Day-Glo colors as the sneaks. Toes are running the gamut from so-pointed-they-curl-up-on-themselves to so-blunt-they-look-amputated. Height is also up for grabs — flats are just as sexy as spikes this spring. The only potential foot faux-pas to be on guard for is a certain unfortunate conglomeration of all these options: the pointy-toed, spiky neon high-healed boxing sneaker that the stores are still trying to push. In fact, the boxing boots at Thom Brown generally fall flat — especially the ones in faux Burberry print. At Urban, jelly shoes are back with a bang for 18 bucks. The best bets for men this season have Puma written over all of them, like the orange ‘n’ cream Velcro Pumas at Thom Brown or the Puma baseball caps at Bottega Giuliana.
Puma and plastic mean that spring is about being bold with your accessories — sadly, for the diehard prepsters on campus, this is not the season for understated fashion. Both ladies and men should pack away their Patagonia fleece vests and grey New Balances. North Face backpacks should remain library- or wilderness-bound. This means that your beloved J. Crew does not have much to offer the ladies this season in terms of accessories. The ubiquitous wedge flip-flop has flattened out and the socks just aren’t that interesting. For men, madras (lightweight, brightly-colored plaid) abounds in the form of hats and boxers.
Now that your head is fully adorned and you’ve got your rear-end covered, you can turn your attention to everyone’s favorite accessory: bags. I said earlier that the backpack’s reign has ended. This goes more for ladies than men — you boys always look cute in nature-prep mode. While some daring girls might be embracing the odd but endearing pants-purses (the bags that are made out of blue jean crotches), you loyal Longchampions can look hip, too, by trading in your classic monochrome tote for Longchamp’s new army canvas bookbags. The military look works for both men and women, but for you girls who prefer a more delicate look, lady-like fifties bags, like structured pocketbooks and purses tied up with bows, are hot right now. Be careful with the Jelly Kelly, though — it’s got the bright rubbery boldness of the ’80s combined with the sweetness of the ’50s, but it is inherently a knockoff — Hermes would never go near this one.
Though they aren’t rampant on campus, I would like to make a plug for scarves — as one fashionista explained to me, they are making a fantastic transition from winter into spring. Tie a silk scarf around your waist like a handkerchief (one of my favorite ways to wear it), around your head in place of a standard headband, or, my personal choice — across the bosom for Toad’s-worthy lewdness.
So amongst all this plastic, all these Pumas, all these feathers and crotches, is there any accessory that can equal the Ugg? I have my doubts. The real challenge, then, will be how to carry your muddy, worn-out Uggs into spring. I recommend spray-painting them hot pink and coating them in latex.
But really, the question of seasonal trends, especially when it comes to accessories, is a bit ridiculous. I say, wear what you like. My straw purse from Madagascar is definitely not in style, nor are my leopard-print booties from 1999. But I will continue to sport them, along with lots of pearls and maybe even a backpack. Style is yours for the taking at the shops on Broadway, yours for the making with your own creativity.