I’ve written before about my difficulties figuring out how to dress for “cold spring” weather here in Seattle. The weather here at that time of year often still requires the same outfit formulas/layers for me as fall and winter, but I crave a different -- lighter, brighter — palette. The problem was that outfits featuring the palette I thought I was aiming for usually felt too preppy or sweet. It was a case of close but not quite.

This year spent some time really trying to think through the aesthetic I was aiming for and I think I made some real strides. Of course, we’re not really in cold spring anymore and warm spring/June-uary is its own problem I still haven't cracked (outfit pics here are from a month+ ago) — but still thought I would share a little retrospective.

Unfortunately I still don’t have the ability to regularly take mirror selfies so I just have flat lay pictures but hopefully this gives you some idea of how things are working.

I want to give a big shout out here to Brooklyn whose practice of articulating seasonal aesthetic themes/color stories and then *following through* on assembling the pieces needed to express them and sharing the stunning outfits that result has been a major inspiration to me for a while. Obviously I’m not claiming to have pulled off what she does but simply acknowledging my sources here.

The first big epiphany that really moved things forward was that I want the lighter colors in my spring wardrobe to have a watery effect — not saturated, and not powdery/chalky. (This is not just about the intrinsic qualities of a garment but also depends on juxtaposition: a pink sweater worn with a navy outfit will look like a pop of saturated color and come off as too preppy, but the same sweater worn with a top in another shade of pink might give me the effect I’m after.)

When I took stock of my closet I realized that I had one set of items in shades of aqua/robin’s egg/teal/light blues-greens, and another smaller grouping in shades of pink and coral. These two clusters became the focus of my color palette — as represented in images 1 and 2.

I went through the images on my Pinterest style board and collected some outfit elements and styling techniques that really spoke to me for this season:

3-4: Hair scarves

5-6: Textured knitwear with delicate cotton blouse or striped tee

7: fair isle isn’t just for fall

8: flats with bare ankles and worn-in cropped jeans (tough to get the weather right for that though)

9-10: lightweight but voluminous scarves, worn close to the neck for warmth

Now on to the outfits:

11. I am really enjoying wearing clogs with cropped/rolled jeans to show off patterned socks. I am leaning heavily on this very soft, worn-in, slouchy pair of jeans.

12. Spring pattern mixing: fair isle, Breton stripes, florals

13. For spring neutrals I am focusing on navy, light to medium gray, and white (plus of course cognac footwear). But I’m trying not to be too rigid about it, and sometimes throw in a black garment. I find that in warmer seasons I turn to black as a “pop” element rather than as an outfit backdrop.

14. Bonus pic of my favorite tortoiseshell accessory

15. In the past I’ve said I don’t like to wear blue tops with blue jeans but suddenly I don’t seem to mind it? The key I think is to avoid a denim-on-denim look (just not my thing). I do seem to like to have some white elements to brighten things up. And now that I think about it, that plaid shirt here is really just Breton stripes that run in both directions, no?

16. I’ve also avoided fair isle patterns in spring in past years, mentally categorizing them as a fall-winter thing. But now suddenly they seem dead right for this time of year. One thing I’m enjoying is that since these patterns often have so many colors in them, you can pull different colors to highlight at different times of year (lighter vs. darker ones). Also, I haven’t had a haircut since December 2019 so my J Crew Liberty hair ties are getting quite the workout.

17. Sometimes I like to combine colors across my two clusters — especially teal with pink or coral, as here.

18. Other times I like to go for tonal shades within a cluster, as here. (Ok, my J Crew Liberty popovers also got a workout, what can I say, #ILikeWhatILike)

19-20. I also notice that when I do tonal shades within an outfit, I often want to add accessories from the other cluster (e.g., my outfit here in shades of teal, paired with heirloom coral earrings).

One thing I still need to figure out for next year is bottoms — mostly meaning pants. I tend want to put away my velvet and corduroy pants by March as they just don’t feel seasonally right anymore, but that leaves me with only jeans and a pair or two of leggings as options, and I do crave a bit more variety. Chinos, maybe? In the past I have never enjoyed wearing chinos, my shoes never looked right with them and I didn’t like all that fabric flapping around my ankles, I just felt stumpy. But maybe a pair in a slightly offbeat color (mustard?) that is tapered and slightly cropped? Or some other cut that’s different from the same-old, same-old. Keeping an eye out for something that intrigues…

Thanks for looking! Open to all comments and feedback.

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