Now that Christmas is over, it only makes sense that spring trends are ranking high on the priority list. And topping that trend for spring is – wait for it – NEON. That’s right, neon is making a triumphant return to the shelves of retailers and the closets of the style savvy, and having already sold out at the likes of Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Net-A-Porter, it’s safe to say that bright and minimal is where it’s at. But don’t worry – you’re not about to be subjected to neon spandex and suspenders circa 1986 – this year, designers like Jil Sander have taken a more refined route. So here’s our guide to the season’s trickiest trend and how you can pull it off.
Unlike the tried-and-true “tight and bright” trend of universities and casino theme nights, this year’s neon has found itself in the free-flowing, lengthy look of last year’s Sex and the City 2-inspired wardrobes. Long skirts, wide leg pants and capes have replaced the 80s and 90s artificial aesthetic, going the route of bohemian chic as opposed to Kelly Kapowski in Saved By the Bell. So while you may have previously shied away from bright colours due to their seemingly outlandish vibe, donning a bright blouse or neon tube dress will still ensure you’re classy but fun.
Mix and Match
In addition to the neon pallet, prints have lengthened their stay in our spring wardrobes, and if you’re not particularly inclined to don a solid block of pure vibrancy, you can ease your way into the colour spectrum through a corporation of prints, as showcased by the likes of designer Christopher Kane or at chain stores like H&M. Since the safari look has once again nudged its way into our hearts and closets (thank you, Spring/Summer runway shows), you can double up and take on the trend through one piece as opposed to spending money on several items you might be afraid to commit to.
Of course, if you’re a vintage or a thrift shopper, finding neon items to pick up and try on may be as natural as the assumption that black will return to runways come fall. But unlike the “wacky and wild” look of the late 1980s, neon in 2011 is far less costume-y and vying for a statement. Yes, you want to be noticed, but no, you don’t want to be taken as an extra in a Full House remake. This time around, Top Shop has done a great job of using neon as the backbone of a wardrobe, with bright, solid-toned vests and floral print dresses acting as the perfect balance between retro and fashion-forward.
Less is More
Neon is all about statements, but unlike the slush-pant windbreakers of 1993, to decipher between “kitsch” and statement can be a little tricky. Of course, novelty items are what helps define street style, but it can be easy to fall victim to unnaturally wearing something in hopes of jumping on the bandwagon. If you’re not ready to unleash a pair of high-waisted neon shorts on the world, simply start small: chains like American Apparel and Old Navy carry t-shirts, tanks and even bandeaux bras that provide the bright without going overboard, while a headband, pair of shoes (like TOMS) or a sweatshirt work to top off and outfit in need of modernity.