Looking for signs of spring?
No need to wait for trees to bud and tulips to bloom. Area retailers are sowing color and texture and detail in the first hint of warm-weather styles.
Here are five trends that are sure to blossom:
1. Prints charming: Whether you desire to slip into a ladylike dress, or shimmy into slim jeans, look for a variety of prints from around the globe to draw attention this spring. In particular, look for snakeskin prints -- it is the Year of the Snake according to the Chinese Zodiac -- and tribal prints to show up on the bottom half: jeans, leggings and pants, rather than tops this season. At Dillard's, snakeskin-pattern jeans in blush by Gianni Bini are $89.
Florals big and small are straight from the garden, with bright blooms on dresses and jackets.
But ladylike dresses are plentiful: LaPorchia Gates, 21, who works in the women's seasonal department at Dillard's, modeled a simple white dress with a dainty blue eyelet and embroidered pattern from Antonio Melani ($169). The Dorothena is Dillard's exclusive 75th anniversary dress.
2. Bright lights. If you're looking to stand out from the crowd, bold colors this spring can only be called neon.
Take green and crank it up to chartreuse. Think yellow and go way beyond a yield sign.
Wisely, the color is best paired with classics, such as a well-cut blazer, trousers or pencil skirt. It's a way to wear a "wow" color without going over the top, said Dillard's ready -to-wear manager Kristin Shipman.
"The last thing I bought was this neon yellow jacket," said Kristin, 24. "I really like the cut and it will go with a lot of things." The color of Kristin's jacket is Aurora Yellow. From Gianni Bini, it is $139, while a matching skirt is $99.
Another traffic-stopping color is an intense royal blue from Antonio Melini. The fitted jacket is $199 while the slim, to-the-ankle trousers are $119.
Not to be outdone, LaPorchia slipped into a Gianni Bini Rosalind dress in neon coral ($139). With its crochet-and-chain detail around the neckline, fluttery cap sleeves and elastic waist, it is both dressy and modern.
3. Leather. Ultra-soft leather and faux leather is here to stay for warmer weather. You'll see it as accents on shirts or dresses, said Kristin, as well as in pieces like the blush-colored, short-sleeve top she modeled (Gianni Bini,$89). The top-stitching on the front makes it look like leather, but the Spandex knit back panel has a lot of give, so it's comfortable. For work, she wore Sugar Lips leggings with faux leather accents on the outside ($49), black boots and her neon yellow jacket.
4. Going vertical -- and horizontal. Awning-size stripes are big, with black and white the most popular colors, but often interspersed with other patterns and colors. A bold black and white sleeveless blouse worn by Kristin is tied at the waist and looks very ladylike with a suit. But remove the jacket and untuck the shirt and its long tail turns the outfit casual.
Don't miss the tribal zigzag stripes in earth tones. "Chevron pattern is big, too," said Kristin.
5. Doin' denim. Denim and chambray shirts and jackets for women are back, right down to the classic snap-pockets. Some of the shirts have embellishments of lace, come with a polka-dot pattern and are even dip-dyed, said Kristin.
As for bottoms, jeans will never fade away. Continuing last summer's trend, you'll see every color in the rainbow, including those neon shades, as well florals and patterns mentioned above, in the slimmer cut silhouette.
Shapes you'll see:
Ankle-length slim pants alongside high-waisted looser fitted long trousers
"Hi-low" tops that are short in front and much longer in back
Maxi skirts and dresses
Embellishments and cutouts on dresses