TORONTO - While the start of the new season is still several weeks away, there's no reason you can't leap ahead on the calendar — at least fashionably speaking — by adding a touch of spring style to your winter wear.
"(Spring) pieces are really great layering pieces at this point in the season," said LouLou style editor Claude Laframboise.
"I find everything that's short sleeves or sleeveless is actually something you can buy now and wear under jackets or a cardigan so it acts as layering pieces, and as the weather becomes warmer you can wear them on their own."
Ditto for bottoms. Silky skirts can be teamed with a pair of opaque tights and a nice turtleneck, he noted.
"You get a hit of colour and print but without looking like you're in a summer outfit."
Laframboise offers five ways to dial up the warmth in your cold-weather looks courtesy of some emerging trends for the season ahead.
1.Bright and light. Vibrant hues which coloured last year's spring fashions continue to be a strong theme heading into the warmer months. But no need to feel stuck on selecting one "it" colour. There's a full spectrum of bold shades to choose from.
"Some colours sort of stick out," said Laframboise. "There's a lot of hot pink, there's a lot of hot orange, a lot of turquoise, there's a lot of electric blue; but it's not one of those seasons where there's one colour you must get. It's all about colour as a whole."
An easy way to adopt the trend without sacrificing comfort is to consider opting for a brightly-coloured pair of jeans, said Laframboise.
Neon not your flavour? Laframboise said pastel hues — a tried and true springtime staple — are still in vogue, notably softer shades like pale blues and yellows.
2. Pretty prints. It wouldn't be spring without a little flower power, and fashionable florals will once again be in full bloom— with a stylized update, of course.
"What's newer is the bigger scale floral print as opposed to the small dainty one," said Laframboise.
Many prints are also drawing inspiration from digital imagery, making them appear pixelated, reminiscent of an abstract print, he noted.
Torn between sporting stripes or polka dots? No need to choose when you can wear different patterns together.
Laframboise said the mixing of prints was an evolution of colour blocking, which involves teaming distinctive bright hues within one ensemble.
Individuals can get a jump start on spring now by trying their hand at combining seemingly contrasting prints — keeping in mind that complementary colours are key.
"The best way is to mix prints that have a similar colour base; and this way, you don't look like you're wearing the whole rainbow at once," said Laframboise.
"I think you just have to sort of tone down the colours, so maybe go for darker jewel shades as opposed to really, really bright summer hues."
Laframboise said stripes are always the best pattern to start with.
"If you have floral pants or patterned pants or skirts, a striped top or a striped shirt will always be the easiest print to mix with something else."
3. Black and white. The classic colour pairing made a splash on the spring runways and may be among the easiest trends to work into your wardrobe.
"It's not about wearing a white shirt and black pants," said Laframboise. "It's really about wearing a striped top with solid pants, or a crisp white shirt, but with a patterned skirt that would be black and white."
Laframboise said the pairing also acts as a good base for bright hues, like teaming a black-and-white striped top with another on-trend item like electric blue or hot pink jeans.
Expect to see many of the season's key prints like stripes, polka dots and floral prints steeped in black and white, he noted.
Laframboise suggested opting for a heavier-weight striped jersey dress now, or perhaps sporting a silky, polka-dotted top under a jacket and wear it standalone in spring.
4. Jazzing up jackets. You'll have to hang on to your parkas and pea coats for a little while longer, but you don't have to wait until spring to wear lighter-weight outerwear.
Tweeds in softer shades can be paired now with a turtleneck sweater. Come spring, the same tweed jacket could be partnered with paler apparel in white and cream, said Laframboise.
The boyfriend jacket popularized several years ago morphed into the more recent tuxedo-inspired varieties being in style. Heading into spring, it's more of a hybrid, he noted.
"The jacket is always going to be inspired by men's tailoring," said Laframboise. "But you see a lot of softer more fluid fabrics, shawl collars as opposed to strict tailored collars."
Many companies are lining the interiors of jackets with contrasting fabrics or patterns, he noted.
"Rolling up your sleeves becomes part of the styling where you're seeing colour or a bit of print," Laframboise said. "So it's sort of a softer take on men's tailoring as opposed to being a first-degree boyfriend jacket."
5. Finishing touches. From a coral clutch to a checkered handbag, some of the hot colour and pattern trends in apparel are translating to accessories.
Mixed metal statement jewelry is emerging for spring, with everything from rhinestones to neon colours in the mix, he noted.
Consider pairing your statement necklace with a T-shirt and jeans, or even overtop a collared shirt that has been fully buttoned up, Laframboise suggested.
"It's gone from being something dressy that you have at night to the other way around."