In decades past, fashion trends were irritatingly fleeting. You needed to identify a trend, procure the item, wear it, and then discard it. If you continued to wear a trendy item beyond its window, you became the subject of much behind-the-hand snickering.

Times have changed, and for the better. Trends still cycle in and out but they do so on a longer timeline.

Yet many women still avoid them. You might be among them. Pondering peplums and midriff-baring cropped shirts may cause you to break out in hives.

But you should still consider heeding seasonal color trends. Why? Because they are the most universally appealing and the easiest to wear.

If you’re not sure which colors are trending, Pantone can help. Once known only in graphics and design fields as a color resource, the company has started choosing a color of the year and issuing quarterly reports on the season’s trendiest shades. For spring 2014, Radiant Orchid, Celosia Orange, Placid Blue and Freesia are some of the standouts.

Here’s your guide to color trends

Start with accessories

Do pastels wash you out? Go for lilac shoes or a butter yellow handbag. Hate what orange does to your complexion? Opt for a bold belt instead. Even if the colors in question do nasty things to your skin tone, you can hop on the trend train by nabbing a few key accessories.

Colors work, regardless of your age, size or build

Many trends skew young, while others require a certain physique. But color can work for everyone because it can be applied to any number of garments and styles. Radiant Orchid and Celosia Orange are both huge for the spring and summer seasons. Blouses, skirts, dresses, shoes, scarves, pants and sweaters can all be found in both shades at every price point.

You’ll see them in plus, petite, tall and standard sizes — in styles both youthful and conservative. Color trends do not discriminate based on age, weight or body shape.


Open to interpretation

Mesh is big for spring, and has been interpreted in a variety of ways on the runways and in the malls. But no matter how it’s presented, mesh is still sporty, casual and a bit challenging to wear for many women.

A color like Placid Blue, on the other hand, can be worn as nail polish, skinny jeans or sky-high pumps. Placid Blue can be worn in huge swaths or as tiny accents. Placid Blue can be worn as an of-the-moment pleated maxi or a classic clutch.

Color trends are infinitely interpretable.

A long shelf life

Trends are sticking around longer, it’s true. But trendy items have shorter cycles than trends in dressing. It may take a few years, but peep-toe ankle boots and high-low hems will eventually fall out of favor. That violet cardigan you sprung for, however, will just be another color in your palette once the color trend has passed.

Trendy garments can be difficult to wear, but trendy colors are a snap. And working a few of them into your look helps you appear sophisticated, chic and in-the-know no matter how you express your personal style.

Affordable style

Trendy garments can cost a fortune. But trendy colors? They’re everywhere from Marshalls to Saks. You can thrift them as well as purchasing them new, and might even have a few lurking in your closet right now. Poke around to see if you’ve got any trendy Freesia yellow — named, like many Pantone shades, for its namesake flower — stashed on a back shelf or buried in a drawer.

Colors are the cheapest trends around.

Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based style blogger and author of Already Pretty (