TORONTO - While the weather that lies ahead for the new season remains unknown, the fashion forecast for spring is already in — and the future looks bright.
Pale pastels and soft neutrals are the hues typically tied to spring style, but some decidedly more vibrant shades are emerging this season.
"We're still seeing a lot of reds, those really pretty aqua blues and also citrus tones like yellow and kelly greens," said Colleen Uncao, a spokeswoman for Winners and HomeSense.
But rather than one lone hue reigning supreme, Uncao said the colour blocking trend seen on a smaller scale last year has a greater presence this time out with the pairing of different hues within one look becoming increasingly popular.
"If you're really confident in your style and how you put things together you could go crazy — but you don't want to look like a rainbow, either," Uncao said.
A good rule of thumb is to start off with two or three colours and proceed from there, she noted. One possible ensemble could involve teaming a coloured bottom, such a pair of red denims, with an aqua top and a hit of yellow, like a clutch or skinny belt.
Jacob spokeswoman Cristelle Basmaji said the eye-popping neons that have been visible in the fashion world in recent seasons were a bit more 80s-inspired and "really flashy." The Montreal-based retailer has opted for sunnier shades in some of its offerings for the warmer months, incorporating such hues as yellow and lime green.
"It's evolved, in a sense, that it's much softer than it was last year and it's mixed with other vibrant colours that are not neon; so it tones down, I think, the entire look and makes it a little bit easier to wear for every type of woman."
Brighter hues aren't strictly for the ladies, with the colour quotient dialled up in everything from polo shirts to chinos for men.
"The average guy might be a little scared to try something too crazy, but if the silhouette is kept classic, I think it gives them a little more encouragement," said Nelia Belkova of www.styleblog.ca.
The Toronto-based fashionista said there are a wide array of styles in pants for women including flares and bells, as well as cigarette-slim pants tapered at the ankle in both prints or solid colour, reminiscent of the style popularized by late screen and style icon Audrey Hepburn.
Colour-shy individuals can still embrace the trend. Uncao suggests starting off by selecting an accessory you may wear occasionally to pair with your outfit, such as a handbag, belt, or what she calls the spring's big jewelry piece — statement earrings.
"If you did a great yellow earring or even if it's just a cotton or silk scarf, just something to add a pop of colour."
Uncao also suggests opting for a pattern rather than a solid piece which will combine multiple colours in one look, like a patterned scarf mixed with white or a neutral tan.
"It's a nice way to add a bit of colour but you're still kind of blending it so it doesn't feel like it's too much."
For more conservative style fans, colour can also have a place in everyday wear for the office, such as a classic pencil skirt in a melon sorbet hue teamed with a crisp, white shirt or silk top.
"A great red pump is classic, you can't go wrong with that, or even a great colourful handbag, a structured handbag," Uncao said.
At Toronto Fashion Week last fall previewing this year's spring and summer fashions, the runway was awash in florals from garden-inspired and abstract prints to laser-cut petals and rosettes.
Not surprisingly, fashionable flower power is in full bloom at the retail level this spring with everything from boldly oversized blossoms to more demure, diminutive florals adorning dresses, scarves and even suited separates.
"Whether it be a floral suit or a shirt and pants — not necessarily a matching floral print — but definitely, head to toe, it's one of the braver looks... but I love that for spring," said Belkova.
For those reticent to go to full-scale with florals, Belkova suggests pairing a printed floral separate, such as a pair of pants or skirt, with a pastel top.
Even if individuals veer from injecting brighter hues in their wardrobe, they can still crank up the colour at home.
With Pantone's colour of the year, Tangerine Tango, seeping into everything from wall coverings to linens and dishware, the colour palette in home decor is reflecting the overall trend in fashion towards brighter shades. And much like the style world, Uncao said it's all about accessories.
"Maybe you bring in a couple of deck pillows in a maybe a great standout tangerine shade and a graphic print and then see how that goes — and keep it probably to two or three accent colours," she said. "You don't want to overwhelm the space with too many colours."
"It's not like an outfit where you can change it everyday. It's something you want to have last throughout the spring."