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Desert Companion

Spring fashion: The bold and beautiful

This spring, the sumptuous '70's make a comeback -- this time with a modern touch

A playful print gives a cheeky bent to a game of "Strangers at a Hotel."
Nanette Lepore Boss-Zilla blouse in blush multi, $248
Nanette Lepore playing skirt in white, $298
Available at Nanette Lepore at Crystals in CityCenter

Pair bold patterns and bright colors with a dark solid suit, and
you're set - and a little mobsterish in the best of ways.

Etro goldfish shirt, $385
D&G black blazer, $745
Theory black trousers, $195
Tod's white leather loafers, $395
Etro pocket square, $100
Available at Neiman Marcus

Announce your entrance in shades of black and nude for instant daytime drama.

Phillip Lim black romper, $425
Christian Louboutin black wedges, $595
Available at Neiman Marcus

Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity necklace, $500
Tarina Tarantino cosmic lucite stretch bracelet, $45
Tarina Tarantino stretch bracelet with elephant charm, $75

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Look to vintage Italian cinema for aesthetic inspiration for that final seduction - and then go get him, darling.

Diane von Furstenberg orange dress, $345
Yves Saint Laurent brown platform heel, $895
Herve van de Straeten gold necklace, $425
Herve van de Straeten earrings, $380
Herve van de Straeten cuff bracelet, $668
All available at Neiman Marcus

The rules say you should never mix two similar-sized patterns in an outfit. Note that this outfit breaks that rule. Note, too, that the outfit looks awesome.
Etro plaid shirt, $385
Etro brown blazer, $1,395
Etro trousers, $385
All available at Neiman Marcus

This casual spring ensemble embodies the sensual side of prep.
American Apparel cotton pique tennis shirt, $36
Available at American Apparel
Etro seersucker trousers, $385
Prada white belt, $375
Gucci navigator sunglasses, $220
Tod's white leather loafers, $395
All available at Neiman Marcus



Kick in the rites of the spring: style tips from Sara Nunn and Juan Martinez   Bonus


Think daytime drama this season, and go big! The Marc Jacobs spring collection was one wildly inspiring look after another, with flower-bright hues edging on neon without going overboard into '80s excess (perish the thought), dramatic accessories and the kind of shapes that guarantee you'll turn heads when you enter a room. If a head-to-toe look isn't in the cards, take one element and let it guide you into the coming long, hot days of summer. A brilliant bright pink, orange or yellow hue can add a shot of caffeine to a slumbering winter wardrobe, and is easy enough to pair with fall's holdover neutrals.

Our favorite elements of said collection are the halter tops, which go admirably from day to evening on the weekends (simply swap the afternoon's denim shorts for a full skirt), and the accessories. Had we but known the panache an oversize hat could add to an ensemble, we would have been raiding the vintage shops ages ago. If you're ready to indulge your most decadent sartorial urges, we recommend taking a shot at accessorizing with a giant flower - check fabric shops for the grandest faux foliage, or find the biggest brightest blossom at your local flower shop to pin to your lapel or tangle in your updo.

Give your work look some spring: If your work wardrobe's starting to feel more like a prison uniform, hit up and have a glance at Tory Burch's Spring 2011 collection, a solid selection of workaday grays and creams accented with resort-ready splashes of color. Full of wearable individual pieces, as a whole this collection is a walking inspiration board for waking up a closetful of work wear.

Key cues to take include adding an icy gray hue or two, as this classic neutral looks unbearably fresh and modern for daytime, adding an element of style that's equal parts ice princess and stone fox. Play it up with bright red lipstick for that delicious cherries-in-the-snow look. Cool grays can carry you through to next winter, so in the meantime, add a twist of lemon or lime with a bold belt, bag, or button-down shirt. Orange looks just as dashing, so don't be afraid to get in the citrus spirit with a key accessory or two.

Spring cling in the evening: Take a cue from disco darlings of the past and try out a second-skin sheath to help you slither out of the winter doldrums and into the spring sunshine. Lanvin's spring collection is bursting with Bianca Jagger-esque dresses that will take you from visions of New York's Studio 54 straight to the MGM Grand's own version of said den of debauchery. Inspiration from this collection is reverberating throughout the malls, so check in on your fast-fashion shop of choice with an eye toward satins, silks, and jersey fabrics. This is also the time to locate that perfect strapless bra to best show off a sexy one-shouldered look.

Vintage mavens, take heart. This is one of the very easiest looks to source from your local vintage shop of choice. While the 1970s preoccupation with polyester may have put you off in the past, this is the season to go daring and embrace that benighted fabric before the temperatures climb too high for comfort. Look for swingy shoulders and cape-like collars, nipped-in waists and cuts that swish just below the knee. Jewel tones are best to keep the look nighttime appropriate, so pass by the florals in favor of a deep navy, maroon or emerald. - Sara Nunn


Those of us recreating the late '70s through the filter of the difficult, claustrophobic Woody Allen movies of the period usually end up with our brain swaddled in oatmeal, sand and cream. We can't be blamed: Set and wardrobe design alike were marked by intense outer beigeness and equally intense inner darkness. The look works, and it's actually surprisingly sexy. Sure, those Allen movies were about people in deep existential dilemmas, but they were the deep existential dilemmas of the fabulously good-looking.

Done wrong, you will look like a Sensitive Psychiatrist or (worse) an early '90s Banana Republic model. To do it right, all you need is one frosty grade of gray to balance out all the khaki. You may want to take a look at what Hermes and Paul Smith are doing this season. Hermes, in particular, offers shrunken double-breasted suits in slate and other suitable desert shades. Another option: khaki pants, a light-grade cashmere v-neck sweater in oatmeal, a light-blue shirt and a slate-gray blazer. Simpler, and more conservative, and more reliable still: khaki suit, white shirt, linen pocket square, gray- and white-striped tie. You may be tempted to wander into rustier earth tones - browns and oranges in particular - but you will totally resist. You may also be tempted to look up Allen's '70s filmography, only to discover that Allen only did one difficult, claustrophobic movie during that decade ("Interiors"). Trust us. One's enough.

Navy surplus: Too-much-denim has been a reliable taboo for the past two decades. We've been asked to avoid it lest we want to look like we wandered off the National Finals Rodeo event and left some poor animal half-roped. But jean overload need not devolve into urban cowboy. Besides, even if it did - so what? The whole point of fashion is to find the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of the Suitable and Perfectly Appropriate (and therefore Invisible) and the Garish and the Awesomely Vulgar (and therefore Noticeable - and Awesome).

Here's an easy way: go for a chambray shirt in dark indigo and a pair of slightly distressed jeans in denim that's just a shade lighter than the shirt. Find yourself a brown leather belt, about which you should ask yourself the following question: Must the buckle be oversized and molded into the shape of (a) your initials, (b) your favorite animal, (c) your favorite gun? Trick question! The answer is (d) No. But go for (a)-(c) if you can pull it off. Top with a dark shawl-collar cardigan in a heavy-gauge navy.

Go loud: The French author Honoré de Balzac, whose 1830 "Treatise on Elegant Living" is required reading for anyone interested in fashion, wrote the bulk of his novels while in the midst of epic caffeine binges. Had you presented him the '80s-inspired neon shirts and pants at the height of his coffee high (he chewed on the grounds when just drinking it wasn't enough), he might have bought a dozen. Or he might have thrown you out of his office. Or you might have given him a headache indistinguishable from the one you get from severe caffeine withdrawal.

Which is all to say: go for this trend at your own peril. The look has its charms, and it has its roots in the very preppy tradition of go-to-hell pants, those loud chinos in loud shares of yellow, orange, or red with little embroidered lobsters or skulls scattered throughout.

Making loudness work, however, requires unflappable commitment. Pair a deeply saturated blue T-shirt with a pair of bright-pink shorts and a yellow rubber slicker (Hilfiger's younger TOMMY brand offers this particular combo). You can certainly pull it off, particularly if you're very young or very old or very trim or very good-looking. It is certainly not for the faint of heart, but then again, it's spring, and it's time to wake yourself up a bit. Go bold. Have some coffee.

"Retailers, businessmen, and teachers of the humanities," Balzac wrote, "fall outside the scope of elegant living." Be grateful you're not one of these unfortunate folk. If you are, prove Balzac wrong. - Juan Martinez



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