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"I'd rather shop than eat."

-The Duchess of Windsor

Cold? What cold? Snow? Where? We're just ready for spring, that's all. Really, reeeally ready.

Maybe you can tell.

Spring fashions. Spring shoes. Spring furniture. Spring lawn decor. Spring pet-wear. We don't care. Last week, as the mercury plummeted, we decided: If it has to do with warm-weather stuff, to borrow from Spike Lee, we gotta have it.

Tanked up on lattes and armed with fresh VISA cards ready to be reduced to smoking ruins, we hit the malls, intent on chronicling all the new spring trends and styles -- and then buying every single one of them.

For we are living in a material world. And we are: The Material Girls.

For six days and nights, we tried on, peeled off and gawked at what manufacturers want us to wear, drink out of, and stick in our grass this coming spring and summer. We wept over the new skin-tight fabrics. We cooed over the new, violent shades of poppy, tangerine, violet and periwinkle.

We tried on bikinis.

Then, on the seventh day, with the snow wafting down in the back yard, we rested, content with our haul and oblivious to the concerned stares of neighbors.

Wanna know what's in store for you this spring and summer? Read on.

For your body

You're going to notice three basic clothing trends when you hit the stores this spring.

1) Ombre!: Otherwise known as that '70s fabric that faded one color from very dark to very light (i.e., deepest purple to pale violet to white). It was inescapable during the Jimmy Carter era and it's inescapable now. No lie: we found Ombre shirts, dinnerware, bracelets and even beach towels.

2) Speaking of purple: Get used to it. In every conceivable shade. Everywhere. So is tangerine, poppy, lime and a blue we can only refer to as "screaming."

3) Break out the water pills! That clingy Quiana-knit fabric, another staple of the '70s, is back with a vengeance, and so are super-tight T-shirts and wrap-dresses. If you celebrated the holidays heartily these past four months, you'll know why we use the word "vengeance."

On with the show.

Item: tie-Dye sleeveless sheath dresses

Price: $68

Store: Express

Trend/concept: Balmy breezes call to mind Grateful Dead ditties

Kunz says: "Sweet blossom, come on down by the river..." How can you not sing "Sugar Magnolia" when trying on these cool sheaths in pale, creamy tones of orange and peach? (Note: For a funky, cheaper alternative, check out the tie-dyed tube tops at Target. At $6.99 a pop, they come in a riot of colors.)

Githens says: These tie-dyes lose something in translation when the Express store's sound system blasts out Billy Idol's "White Wedding," but nonetheless, their usefulness cannot be questioned.

Item: Tommy Bahama, Raisins, Tommy Hilfiger, Galyan's bathing suits

Price: $100; $70; $80 to $100; $20

Store: Galyan's

Trend/concept: '60s Beach Blanket Bingo Returns!

Kunz says: There is no trial like trying on a swimsuit. They design these things to squeeze you, like the lime green one (Galyan's, $20): It made even my back look fat! Next came the 50/Fifty two-piece ($58): Nice hippie-pink print, but microscopic shorts ... whoa. Then the Raisins blue bikini ($62): Another bottom-squeezer, plus a stringy bra-top that would fall off with the slightest wave.

Githens says: The Raisins two-piece ($70) had a bandeau top that wasn't bad and the boy-cut shorts weren't either -- if they're indeed being worn by a 10-year-old boy. Next came the Tommy Hilfiger mix-n-match collection: A tank top ($44) guaranteed to cause stares in cold water; a boy-cut-shorts bottom ($50) that made me gasp in horror; and a mini-skirt coverup ($44) that was lovely, but so what?

Kunz: Finally! Tommy Bahama's two-piece ($109), in creamy white dappled with pink flowers and green leaves, was perfect. A lined halter top, tied by a sturdy knot in the back, paired with a mini-sarong bottom. We were born to wear this suit. We were born to be taken in this suit to Hawaii by a rich man. Githens: While others of us were born to be cravenly grateful to the folks at Speedo for the old stand-by tank suit ($50) in teal, purple, royal and navy.
Item: Ombre T-shirts in purples, pinks, greens and blues

Price: $12.50

Store: Old Navy

Trend/concept: Like the 2001 sinus infection, this '70s dark-to-light shaded fabric is everywhere you turn.

Kunz says: Personally, I wasn't hip enough to wear this 25 years ago. Now's my chance!

Githens says: Wearing four to five shades of pink (or green) on my body all at once reminds me of what I thought when my septic system blew last April: Frankly, this wasn't what I'd planned on for spring.

Item: Ombre bangle bracelets in purples, gold-silver and blues

Price: $10

Store: Sears

Trend/concept: In case they don't get the concept from the T-shirt alone.

Kunz says: Now you can hear Ombre as well as see it!

Githens says: Next they'll try to make dishes out of it. Or pet-wear.

Item: The wrap shirt or dress

Price: $29.50 (shirt); $54 (dress)

Store: Gap, Express and virtually any womens' clothing store.

Trend/concept: Diane Von Furstenberg's creation returns, only our bodies are 25 years older and her dress' basic cling-wrap style isn't. You do the math.

Kunz says: I actually got a red one; it didn't leave my body all weekend and it never wrinkled, plus it kept me from eating a thing.

Githens says: Go up a size or two for maximum coverage, but expect to fidget and adjust regularly, even so. I'm not saying they look awful; they do flatter whatever is good on you. It's just that I can't help thinking that somewhere, Wardynski's is missing a sausage casing.

Item: Clingy, bias-cut, patterned skirt/shirt

Price: Various

Store: Various

Trend/concept: Not only is clothing material once again clinging to your body like your 1978 junior prom date after too much Boone's Farm, it's generally of a print as busy and garish as a '60s pop-art show. Think diagonal strips, interlocking wee squares, dots and swirls.

Kunz says: I like it. But this is the spring you'll have to break down and buy yourself some thongs, aka Lewinsky-wear.

Githens says: Clingy, busy and in color schemes like blue-and-black, purple-and-brown and green-and-brown. Quelle attractive, non? 'Scuse me while I kiss this notion goodbye.

For your home/patio

Item: Ombre Dinner Ware

Price: $40 (4-piece set), $140 (16-piece set)

Store: Pottery Barn

Trend/concept: When wearing it on your torso, legs and wrists just isn't enough.

Kunz says: The green is sort of Dr. Seussian and therefore bilious, and the yellow looks sort of stained, but the blue and the purple sets are cool and refreshing! And look! Matching napkins and placemats!

Githens says: My God, I was kidding earlier about the dishes. Even if these are singularly beautiful. At least they haven't tried to slip an ombre dog-dish under our Jack Russell's nose.

Item: Madras, Floral, Gingham, Bandanna-print and -- yes! -- Ombre dog accessories

Price: Various ($1.25 for rubber bone, $18.50 for doggy daybed)

Store: Old Navy

Trend/concept: Because leaving Fido unadorned simply isn't done.

Kunz says: Now your dog can be more stylish than you, though in Buffalo that isn't saying much. There's a matching leash-and-collar ensemble, a dog-bowl-and-mat set, bandannas to match, chew toys, Frisbees -- even a colored-coordinated sleep mat! It's almost preppy-ish.

Githens says: I'm speechless. These would last all of 45 seconds with a Jack Russell. In fact, the only dogs I think would endure these degradations du couture are the big china ones you see in store windows. Regardless, I'm getting some. They're adorable.

Item: George Foreman Double Champion Indoor/Outdoor Grill

Price: $130

Store: JCPenney and various other stores' housewares departments

Trend/concept: One lean machine from another -- geddit?!?! Haa!

Kunz says: First, the mini-grill for $30, then the small grill for $60 -- now Foreman's latest: this behemoth (with a stand, sold separately) for nearly fat-free grilling outside! Does this mean I can eat six Sahlens instead of my usual, pious three?

Githens says: Do we want to argue meat with a guy who regularly pounded his opponents' faces into that very thing?

For your lawn

Item: The Eight-Person Patio Table

Price: $300

Store: Wal-Mart

Trend/concept: An immovable feast if we ever saw one.

Kunz says: Last year this baby only sat six. This year it seats eight. Huge and square, it comes with eight roomy chairs and a colossal umbrella. Next summer, we await the Table For A Hundred.

Githens says: OK, so you get eight people over and they sit down. Then what? No one's eating because they're wearing these circulation-crushing clothes. They're gonna just sit there and stare at each other, maybe drink something.

Item: Lawn ornaments 2001

Price: Various

Store: Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and most home-decor stores

Trend/concept: Go big, go loud, go colorful ... go weird

Kunz says: I want a bumper sticker: "My $60 Target Crane Lawn Ornament Made of Heavy Metal Beat Up Your Plastic Pink Flamingo." And forget that silhouette of the fat lady bending over showing you her bloomers -- this year it's all about foot-long metal garden bugs -- dragonflies, insects, gnats, whatever.

Githens says: Or you can go with the whole massive-flower-the-size-of-a-beer-keg lawn ornament idea. Look at these babies from Bed Bath & Beyond. Look at these colors. Purple, tangerine, poppy, screaming lemon. It's like waking up in Oz.

Item: Outrageously sized and colored wine goblets/plastic picnic ware

Price: Various

Store: Target, Pier One and most housewares departments

Trend/concept: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Picnic

Kunz says: Originally we thought the Pottery Barn's $14 wine-globe was the biggest we'd seen. Then we strode into Pier One and gaped at this fish-bowl-on-a-stick. Easily 5-inches across and only $7! One of these drained of its Chardonnay and I'll have problems staying focused on the picnic ware out for Spring/Summer 2001: pink, yellow and red polka dots; periwinkle, lavender and watermelon-red beverage tubs for holding pop and beer; polka-dotted ice-buckets ... oh God, I need to go lie down now.

Githens says: I saw a plaid water pitcher. Teal plaid. I think I've blocked out where I saw it, but the point is: It exists. It's out there. It's our job to let people know this.

Item: Folding Camp Chairs

Price: $10 to $30

Store: Linens and Things

Trend/concept: Chair-in-a-bag

Kunz says: Forget the Call of the Wild. When we're dealing with the Call of the Cold Beverage or the Call of the Tired Feet, there's no contest. These chairs fold neatly up into striped canvas bags that we were able to heft with minimal difficulty. The basic model with the cup holder runs you $10, but the $30 job has the excellent fold-out footrest.

Githens says: In restful, tasteful navy and hunter green, yet. Still, has no one a polka-dot version? Or teal plaid one?

Item: "Ombre Cool" beach towels

Price: $17

Store: Linens and Things

Trend/concept: Must we go over this again?

Kunz says: The sands of time have NOT eroded this pattern! LOOK at these! Purple hues, golden hues! Point me toward Woodlawn, someone.

Githens says: Ombre towels. OK. That's it. I'm leaving.

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