Fashion Trends Report: Take Your Pick from Teeny Crop Tops to Billowing Cape Sleeves

This fashion trends report re-emphasizes the question blared by the pop song, "Who Are You?" With a little bit of something for every fashion archetype in Spring fashion 2013, the best guidance for pulling together your wardrobe is understanding your lifestyle activities and the person you are and want to project.

Here are a dozen of fashion themes I've pulled together with commentary for the after-50 woman, plus the lagniappe.

splash print wrap dress
denim jacket
Michael Kors striple blouse
marina print dress
Splash Print Denim Jacket Kors Stripe Blouse Marina Print Dress
Images are courtesy of Women's Apparel at

#1: Denim and Chambray Beat the Clock

I can't think of a time since the 1950s when blue jeans were not in style; this year, interest in denim and its finer cousin, chambray, are a bit stronger than usual.

This timeless look definitely beats the fashion clock, year after year.

Many readers are retired, so I am selecting this trend from the multitude of Spring fashion 2013 themes as appropriate for us.

Chambray is a finer cotton but with the same variegated threads we associate with denim.

Denim jackets and chambray shirts are especially strong.

Blue jeans have become the worldwide signifier of American popular culture, so you won't want to miss my history of this renowned garment.

Fit is paramount when selecting jeans - or any clothing for that matter. You can end up looking rumpled and frumpy or on-trend and stylish.

Here are some tips to help you choose pants that fit.

#2: The Sheer Truth About the New Styles

Sheer fabrics, peek-a-boo cut-outs, lace overlays, and crochet tops invite you to show all, or at least a great deal.

Our best advice is to wear a flesh-colored camisole or slip if you want a racy look without revealing wrinkles, cream-cheese flesh, and darker freckles on the skin.

On the other hand, if you want to show off beautiful lace or crochet work, wear a contrasting under garment. White lace or nude lace is beautiful over black, navy, taupe or purple. Navy crochet stands out over a white cami.

This also is a wonderful way to show off your handiwork, if you crochet.

#3: Crop Tops: Do You Want to Show Your Belly Button?

Crop tops range from thin bandanas to sweaters that barely show a glimpse of your waistline when you reach down or bend over.

While models may wear bandana and crop tops with business suits on runways in New York, Paris, and Milan, I'm betting it isn't happening at most businesses in Fort Lauderdale and Bloomington. Like the corset and bras as outerwear that was inspired by Madonna back in the Eighties, many of these extreme looks are best left in Hollywood.

I like the little crop tops that skim the waistline and are reminiscent of the 1950s sweater girl retro look.

This look is sweet and sexy all at once. And it's strictly reserved for those of us who still have a waistline worth showing.

Didn't we just finish the belly-shirt craze that exposed far too many muffin-tops? Rolls of flesh hanging over the waistband is not a good look for any woman, young or old.

#4: To the Sea, To the Beautiful Sea

Prints that evoke the ocean, beach, or seaside made a big splash at last fall's runway shows. Some of these even used photographic techniques to reproduce a scene.

Our fashion trends report approves this as a good casual look for spring and summer.

The jewel colors of turquoise waters and sun-drenched skies complement many lighter skin tones as we start to lose our youthful rosiness. This is often true for women with light eyes.

Fashion commentators report that we will be seeing toned-down colors in general for the 2013 style. Do not expect the bright coral and bold fuchsia that predominated just a few years ago.

#5: Brushstroke Patterns Are Art Inspired

Some dresses and tops feature brushstroke patterns that are dynamic and colorful. Unlike the repeating patterns of most fabrics, these often are featured on the front of the garment.

One commentator called this spring's "most exciting" look for Spring fashion 2013.

Anyone with some acrylic paint and a cheap tee-shirt can have fun creating your own perfect brushstroke pattern.

Maybe it's time for you to experiment with some altered couture of your own.

#6: Use Ubiquitous Stripes to Flatter Your Figure

Fashion After 50 has been touting stripes as a classic nautical style since we launched in 2008.

The difference this year is that stripes of every color are everywhere. Wide and narrow, cut at every angle, they create figure-flattering design elements if chosen well.

Here are two reminders for how to wear stripes:

First, vertical stripes elongate; horizontal stripes draw the eye across. If you want your butt to look bigger, wear horizontal stripes in a tunic top.

Second, for a high-class look, wide stripes must match at the shoulder and side seams. This means the dark section must align with a dark, and light must align with light.

Of course, designers play with this to create special effects; just be careful that you are buying a special effect and not a clown costume.

#7: Asymmetric and Architectural Details Create Eye-Catching Looks

Although I don't see other commentators using the word architectural, much in evidence last fall, I still see big bold ruffles, batwing sleeves, and trapeze angles that define this look for me.

These styles are dramatic and usually not close-fitting, so we get style with comfort. They also tend to be high-end, so keep your eyes out for sales and knock-offs.

#8: Comfortable Fit Prevails in Many Collections

It makes sense in places with Northern Hemisphere weather that more comfortable fitting garments are favored for Spring fashion and Summer. In winter, we like to cuddle up in close-fitting woolens to stay warm.

Comfortable fit is a style idea that appeals to us older gals who may be bored with the attention we lavished on clothing and style just a few years - or decades -- ago.

Just remember that comfortable fit doesn't mean baggy. Make sure armholes align with the end of your shoulder (except for raglan and kimono sleeves) and that waistbands are tacked in or elasticized. Just because there is a bit of Spandex in our slacks fabric does not mean we should stuff our thighs into them like sausage meat.

This look is tailored and neat. One spring fashion trends report referred to this 2013 style as "minimalist" and "tailored."

#9: Asian Touches Add Exotic Details

It's affirming when style themes that Fashion After 50 has noted for years are cited by other fashion observers as on-trend.

Some things never go out of style. The timeless fashions of Asia are updated and adapted but remain true to their roots.

For Spring fashion 2013, look for chrysanthemum flower motifs, quilted jackets, kimono sleeves, Mandarin collars, and sheath dresses for evening wear with a cheongsam slit up the side.

This is our homage to Asian style.

#10: Black and White Dresses: Nifty Combo Gets Designers' Nod

This fashion theme has been heating up; we started our pages for black-and-white dresses and black-and-white or color contrast shoes a while back. I noticed there were plenty of styles in these wear-everywhere, timeless colors.

This spring, it's not unusual to find a fashion trends report call this a sophisticated style entry for Spring-Summer 2013 clothes.

#11: A Bit of Bohemia in Scarf Prints, Jeweled Tops, and Chunky Jewelry

What's not to like about the Bohemian look, no matter what its current incarnation? It offers dazzling color combinations, textured fabrics, and hand-crafted accessories, such as the large, chunky jewelry seen on many models.

This year, turn to fabulous scarves and embroidered and jeweled tops for your Bohemian flare. And dig out your favorite big, bold signature necklace. Some models were seen wearing fabulous macrame-and-bead confections. If this is your craft, this spring may be your time to show off your fabulous handiwork.

#12: Tuxedo Jacket is Chic Blazer

The tuxedo jacket is distinguished by its rounded lapels and fitted shape. The lapels may be satin or a contrasting fabric.

The color is almost always black. We may find some variations, such as deep blue or garnet red in women's fashions.

It is a smart style with slacks or long skirt for evening.

The Lagniappe for Our Fashion Trends Report: Love It or Leave It

Fashionising and other glam-fashion sites report that the leather harness (as in sexual-bondage and leather fetish) has become the new must-have luxury item.

If you scroll through some of the runway collages, you will see this style is hailed in many a spring fashion trends report.

All I can say is "yuk." Dominatriz and fetish-wear came on strong last fall (see this report).

Some sources say this trend is inspired by Helmut Newton's photographs; others say it's the visual iteration of the fame of 50 Shades of Grey. Simon Doonan, the former Barney's windows' dresser and fashion commentator, excoriates today's art world for the themes of "blood, poo, sacrilege, and porn" in Slate. The fashion world is not far behind in marginalizing itself when it pursues porn themes.

I spent too much time on the front lines of the women's movement in the 1970s to find the harness anything other than repulsive as a design element - and not only for women of our age.

In the love-it lagniappe category: "white shoes, deep red lipstick, and pearls" get thumbs-up from the Huffington Post. You gotta love the femme fatale look, winter-spring-summer or fall, don't you? It's ageless.

Keep these on your radar as well for Spring fashion and summer 2013 style: super-big block prints; cape-like sleeves that take batwing and kimono sleeves a little further; long Flapper fringe (nice for a wedding sheath perhaps) and Bermuda shorts as part of a suit for day wear. If it works in the Bahamas, maybe it can work for you.

So that's our fashion trends report for Spring 2013. As you can see, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose - "The more things change, the more it's the same thing" - Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1849. Given the age of the quotation, it really does show that the same things keep coming around.

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