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Style on the Street

Spring's most wearable

Amid the mixed prints, see-through blouses, and other cheeky designs — many truly wonderful, if not quite right for the office — three runway trends stand out. Here’s what really works this season.

By Veronica Chao
March 27, 2011

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ALL IN WHITE

You can pretty much pick your color this season – designers paraded everything from nudes to neons down spring runways. But standing out from the rainbow? All-white looks.

Reasons to love it It’s effortlessly sophisticated. And it’s worth investing in: Just like black, white won’t ever go out of style. Plus, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of your white pieces – they’ll also pair with virtually any color you add to your wardrobe, right now or in a few years.

Runway inspirations Go romantic and girly (a la Dolce & Gabbana’s delicate dresses with crocheted-lace details), sleek and clean (channeling looks like Calvin Klein’s spare, ankle-skimming dresses), and everywhere in between.

How to wear it Keep your shoes pale, too. Try light-colored cork-heeled sandals – another trend this year. Leather belts and bags in nude shades or subtle metallics look great, or use accessories to add a pop of your favorite bright color. For a low-contrast variation on the theme, try mixing white pieces with sand, beige, or other desert neutrals – that easy color scheme can revolutionize your summer vacation packing.

Your starter kit White jeans; a white jacket; an oversized white blouse; a supply of plain, fitted white T-shirts; and what some are calling the season’s must-have: the little white dress.

WIDE-LEG PANTS

Hooray! Pants are interesting again. And within the wide-leg trend, there are plenty of options – from ’70s- influenced, clean-lined flat fronts to fuller, pleated Hepburnesque versions.

Reasons to love it During the recent reign of skinny-legged jeans and leggings, tops grabbed all the attention. But wide-leg pants can really make an outfit, and can be a lot more flattering than skinny legs.

Runway inspirations Jason Wu (a Michelle Obama favorite) showed his pleated pants with sheer sleeveless blouses (sheer fabrics are another trend this season). Alexander Wang went edgier, pairing slouchy, white, wide-leg carpenter pants with a cropped, collarless white jacket. Derek Lam took a minimalist approach: His high-waisted flat fronts looked timeless and understated with a soft, long-sleeved white blouse and narrow belt.

How to wear it Hem wide legs a little longer than your usual inseam; they look best virtually skimming the ground. With more volume on your legs, it’s a sure bet to keep things fitted and tucked in on top. As for shoes, wide legs work with ballet flats (still everywhere), wedges, and heels; you’ll have to commit when you hem them. Pull it all together with another of spring’s (smart for Boston) hot items: the trench coat.

LOWER HEMLINES

While minis and mainstream above-the-knee hemlines are still easy to find, the news from the runways is three-quarter-length and longer. It’s time to meet the midi.

Reasons to love it Even if you’re comfortable showing a lot of leg, there are all sorts of situations (anytime you need to sit down, for example) where longer skirts are a saner choice. The right cut elongates your frame. Plus, the maxi length is still going strong, and many maxis work best with flat sandals or wedges – your feet vote “yes.”

Runway inspirations Designers like Prabal Gurung, Carolina Herrera, and L’Wren Scott showed one way the calf-length hemline works beautifully, with ladylike, body-hugging skirts and dresses that fall an inch or two below the knee. Gorgeous dresses, in soft silk and satin fabrics, that hit closer to the ankle (Narciso Rodriguez’s collection was full of these), look perfect for more formal occasions – easier to walk in than a floor-length gown, but dressier than a cocktail dress.

How to wear them While midcalf-length skirts with a lot of volume can be tricky to pull off, their close-fitting cousins will keep you out of frump territory; try them with a superfitted, cropped jacket or a wide belt and fitted sleeveless top – and heels. In her much-talked-about spring show, Jil Sander proved just how elegant a long, vivid skirt can look with a plain, white crewneck T-shirt.

Veronica Chao is an assistant editor at the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.