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SPRING SOJOURN
THIS YEAR'S LONG AND COLD WINTER SEEMS ENDLESS. SO BOOST YOUR SPIRITS WITH A SNEAK PEEK AT THE BOLD AND COLORFUL FASHIONS THAT AWAIT YOU

Sun. Clear blue skies. A comfortable 72 degrees. Some quiet time on the front porch . . .

Welcome to our February fantasy.

So long, salt-stained boots. Goodbye, heavy coats. Farewell, hat hair. Later, chapped skin. If only for the time it takes you to read this sneak spring preview.

Spring is coming, although it seems unlikely.

One thing is for sure: Anything colorful, lightweight, comfortable and, quite frankly, pretty looks good this time of year.

Joy to linen. Florals, forever.

So join in the fantasy. And imagine some of the following hanging in your closet or folded -- neatly, of course -- in a drawer near you.

A bold print to make a statement. If you're tired of monochromatic dressing, designers are taking action.

From florals to stripes, geometrics to swirls, some prints are reminiscent of the '70s and '80s -- especially in such retro combinations as blue and brown.

Op-art patterns are another trend for spring and a sure-fire way to jazz up your wardrobe.

Bold prints aren't for everyone, of course, but they even work in small doses. A scarf, for example, or a printed skirt worn with a solid top.

A pair of pajamas you wouldn't be embarrassed answering the door in. Face it, hunkering down in sweats or ratty flannels may keep you warm in the wintertime, but it doesn't win you any style points.

Shape up. Athletic-inspired sleepwear from Tommy Hilfiger or the like is a good option for sporty types, but some of the fresh floral patterns filtering into stores evoke images of Sunday morning crossword puzzles and second cups of java.

These are not the washed-out pastels of yesteryear, but rather cheery florals in soft fabrics such as cotton knit and cotton poplin. Choose a classic style -- from A-line gown to tailored pajamas -- and why not indulge in the matching robe?

Something pink to make you blush. Nothing says spring more, whether you prefer warm coral-pinks or cool-based fuchsias. You can find a cardigan or other knit piece to wear now with your winter basics. Or shop ahead for a linen or gingham number to wear later.

The Talbots catalog features a crepe sheath with matching silk cardigan, for example (it comes in deep purple, black and navy, too). Or make just a small addition. Hue's gum ball pink socks will surely set your feet tapping.

A corsage to make you feel like Queen for the Day. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker popularized them on HBO's series, "Sex and the City," and now fashion flowers are sprouting up in accessories departments everywhere.

Wear one in your hair or on your lapel, or clip a pair of them on your shoes. It's feminine. A little flirty. And simply fun.

And while you're shopping accessories, check out the latest in . . .

Belts . . . This is a big belt year. Fat ones. Skinny ones. Chain ones, and more. Strap a wide one over a big blouse. A narrow one over a lean jacket.

Or drape a chain loosely on your hips with pencil skirts or wide-leg pants.

A lighter-weight leather to make you look super chic. Leather clothing was the big trend for fall, and now it is heading right into spring.

No kidding.

Look for leather pants, jackets, skirts. During the unveiling of the Ellen Tracy spring collection last fall in New York, head designer Linda Allard layered a red patent leather jacket and skirt over an ivory blouson camisole, for example.

Neutral colored leather -- with a hint of golden shimmer -- also is popular. Versions can be found at Express, Banana Republic and elsewhere.

A shirtdress to point you toward warmer days. This classic style, which drifts in and out of the fashion spotlight, shines brightly again for spring. Styles already are arriving in stores.

The perfect transitional dress between winter and spring, you'll find it with either long or short sleeves in everything from silk to denim. A smart wardrobe addition if you like the style.

Something with that classic spectator look . . . to make you feel spectacular. Navy and white. Black and white. Even brown and white. This tireless look was the key component in Ralph Lauren's spring runway show, and other designers and manufacturers are going spectator as well.

Think stripes, solids, color-blocking and some polka dots thrown in for good measure.

Look for the spectator influence not only on clothing but shoes, sandals, handbags, jewelry and other accessories as well.

That's good news, since most women already see black, navy and white basics hanging in their closets. One way to update them is to add new accessories. A striped tote. Spectator shoes. Polka-dot sneakers, anyone?

Well, maybe not.

A dressier denim to take you beyond jeans. After months of wearing heavy woolens, denim is a terrific transitional fabric.

But it's not just for jeans -- and certainly not just for weekends. Banana Republic, for one, offers a denim trench coat for spring, as well as denim bags, hats and high-heeled mules.

Something, anything, to wrap yourself in. No, we're not talking your trusty afghan. Wrap styles -- be they wrap dresses, jackets, sweaters, blouses or trench coats -- are big news for spring and an easy way to update your wardrobe basics.

And the look adapts to any size or age. Mode, the fashion magazine for plus-size women, features a wrap skirt, a leather coat with wrap belt, a silk wrap top and a wrap sweater in this month's issue.

Then, of course, there's the floral robe we mentioned earlier, remember?

In a soft fabric and springtime print, it's perhaps the most perfect wrap style of all -- and certainly something you wouldn't be embarrassed answering the door in.

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