04/16/2014 05:41 EDT | Updated 06/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Cool trends for warmer months: Cultural influences colour spring-summer styles

TORONTO - Whether inspiration is found on a gallery wall, the playing field or in styles from past decades, an eclectic mix of cultural influences is colouring fashions for spring and summer.

Style experts weigh in on some of the key cool trends in warm-weather wear.


Athletic-inspired styles are evolving beyond workout wear, with even top fashion houses like Chanel and Dior incorporating activewear into their luxury looks.

"I think the sporty trend is partly growing out of a general movement towards comfort," said Laura deCarufel, fashion features director at Elle Canada.

At a recent showcase of the Marshalls spring and summer collection, trend expert and forecaster Carly Stojsic touted the look of "elevated active" with embellishments on sweatshirts and sweatpants and the infusion of "hyper-saturated brights and neons" in footwear and accessories.

"For somebody who wants a more comfortable piece of footwear, the fancy sneaker is something that's been blowing off of shelves everywhere," she said.

"You have that fancy sneaker that has a covered wedge and some really shiny detailed embellishments on it that are naturally not a part of performance wear."

Baseball and varsity jackets are also being refreshed in fancy fabrications instead of heavy, utilitarian wools, suedes and nubucks seen in seasons past, she added.

Stojsic also described mesh as a "breakout material" with designers incorporating the perforated performance fabric into staple apparel pieces, like shirts and shoes.

For a more subtle take on sporty styles, deCarufel said a bomber jacket is the perfect way to capture the look. Sneakers are also another "super-easy way" to introduce the trend into your wardrobe.

"The flat is the shoe of the season. If you're going to invest in something you either buy a bright, colourful, poppy sneaker or a flat."

Pretty and punk

An infusion of pale hues and vibrant shades and prints lends a novel twist to classic punk styles.

"Everything is edgy, but it's softened," said Stojsic.

Fusing influences from the '40s, '50s and '80s, some of the hallmarks of the pretty and punk look draw on items from the past with a prettier update, she noted. Stojsic said bold message tees or those showcasing blackout poetry teamed with soft-coloured biker jackets in buttery leathers and a floral printed skirt capture the essence of the tough yet feminine look.

Pencil, midi or pleated skirts, crop tops, cut-off shorts and denim vests are also key pieces to incorporate, she noted. And accessory staples are getting refreshed.

"Traditionally, we've seen studding and hardware embellishment come about with stainless steel and in silver and these cold metals. But now, with the popularity of rose gold and yellow gold and lavender gold coming about, we see these warm undertones happening with these hard materials," said Stojsic.

"That's a really good direct translation of how punk is being prettied up."

Modern Boho

"There's definitely a resurgent interest in all things artisanal," said Stojsic. "And whether it's found in food or clothes or accessories, that's the importance of where and how things are being made and the quality of what we consume."

In a vignette dubbed "Craftwerk," the trend expert showcased styles befitting what she described as the "modern Bohemian hipster woman" with laid-back pieces in a palette of saturated midtones and neutrals rich in cultural and ethnic influences.

Stojsic pointed to jumpsuits and scarves in vibrant prints, maxi skirts and dresses, crop tops and sundresses among the items that convey the casual, comfortable yet fashionable style statement, featuring details like lace, crochet, fringe, patchwork, woven leathers and natural fibres.

Art and Fashion

DeCarufel said the use of visual art has made an impact on the catwalk, from painterly swirls at Celine to graffiti-style art at Dior.

At Chanel, designer Karl Lagerfeld had someone create original artworks to transform the Grand Palais into a gallery, while Prada also commissioned artists to create murals along the presentation space that were translated into dresses, she added.

"It's not just as if it's just Impressionism or abstract expressionism or just pop art. It's really all of the above," said deCarufel.

"I think what we'll probably see on the market — and what makes the most sense and is probably the most beautiful interpretation of the trend — would be a painterly skirt or a dress. Anything that has the big swirls on it."


The decade of crop tops, baby-doll dresses and grunge is continuing to stay on course with its style revival.

"The '90s comeback has, I think, been on its way for a little while. This is the season that I think it reached its completest actualization," said deCarufel.

While deCarufel said the grunge movement has been strong at Dries Van Noten with the Belgian designer showcasing plaid shirts and low-slung pants, she said a new twist on '90s style for spring is the emergence of the overall, "which is absolutely everywhere" including among celebrities attending the recent Coachella music festival.

"The overall is a major piece, but also the slip dress," she added, referencing Kate Moss, the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and labels like Calvin Klein for helping to popularize the minimalist style.

Another '90s footwear staple — Doc Martens — is getting a reboot.

"Doc Martens, I think, have really transformed with the times, and they have different colours, they also have different patterns. I've seen floral Docs, which are really cute," said deCarufel.

"It doesn't have to be as literal an interpretation as something from the '90s. It can be a little bit more playful."


Boy meets girl in this perennially popular style statement as menswear-inspired styles see a resurgence for spring and summer.

"Part of what makes it new is that Hollywood has really adopted it more recently. And I think that it's the younger stars that have adopted it," said deCarufel.

"We've gotten accustomed to seeing stars like Tilda Swinton and even Madonna wearing suits and they always look amazing; but when you have Emma Stone and Emma Watson who are in their early 20s and among the coolest young starlets, seeing them rocking a well-tailored suit, it does bring a freshness to it."

DeCarufel said Angelina Jolie showcased a sexier side of menswear when she and Brad Pitt stepped out in matching tuxedoes at the BAFTAs. The Oscar winner opted to wear her slim-fitting Saint Laurent suit with the collar and tie left loosened and paired with pointy heels.

For women seeking to try out the trend, deCarufel said for daytime "to wear a beautiful crisp white shirt, the oxford shirt is one of the absolute must-haves of the season."

Consider taking a page of Jolie's style book and opting for a tuxedo jacket.

"It can be a black tuxedo jacket more classically, but it also looks really fresh to wear a white tuxedo jacket," said deCarufel.

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