Belk's Most Wanted fashions for spring 2013. Comments are from Arlene Goldstein, Belk vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction.
1. Bold Print Dress: "A dress is one-stop shopping. It's a significant way to update and refresh. Wear it with a casual flip-flop or dress it up with heels to wear to a special occasion."
2. Silky Top: "The shirt is back in full force. It can be preppy, but look for one with a silky finish. A button-up front, roll sleeve and color is a great way to express style."
3. Spring Jacket: "The jacket has made a comeback. It is the perfect completer piece. It can be a printed jacket. It can be cropped to give it a Chanel feel. A jacket is part of the modern Southern style. Southern gals like to look polished, and the jacket enables it."
4. Statement Necklace: "I'm an advocate of anything that frames the face, and a statement necklace does just that. It draws the eye to you. From butterfly necklaces to jeweled multi-faceted bib necklaces, it's the accessory every woman will want. Also, we're going to see longer strands come into play."
5. Sassy Skirt: "The skirt is perfect for spring and summer. From short to long, all hemlines are in. I'm a fan of long skirt with pleats. The styles will also include draped skirts sweeping the floor to mid-calf ones and those covering the knees, which can be a really sexy look. A skirt is also a great way to add a print to an outfit."
6. Fancy Pant: "The ankle-length slim pant continues to be the most important style, but we are seeing a lot of vintage washed denim as well as the pull-on soft pant and drawstring linen ones."
7. Fashion Wedge: "Whether it's a flat or a stiletto, if it's got a wedge, it's going to be the No. 1 shoe of the season. The wedge is also easy to wear."
8. Something Lacy: "Lace continues to be most important textile. No longer is it used exclusively for special occasions after 5 p.m., but it can now be worn during the day. And, while lace was typically either black, beige or white, it's not available in a variety of colors."
9. New Tote: "This is where fashion meets function. The satchel and the handheld tote have been updated with details including layers of metallic and color blocking. The tote can also be used as a vehicle to add a pop of color to an outfit."
10. Novelty Knit: "Openwork yarn, East-meets-West styles, and tunics cropped easy to wear will top the list of knit trends."
Patterned dresses, button-up silk shirts and floral blazers are on fashion experts' lists as must-haves for spring and summer.
"The signature fashion this spring is the dress. It has staying power," says Arlene Goldstein, Belk vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction.
"We're in a pattern cycle, and there's so many amazing prints and patterns from geometrical to digital, florals, tribal and more. Each, whether with a dress, skirt, pant or jacket, will have an impact," she says.
Suzanne West, owner of Frankie & Julian's fashion boutique on Frazier Avenue, says dresses of all styles, particularly flirty and shirt dresses in subtle geometric prints and florals, are topping the list.
"The biggest trend in dresses is color -- corals, pinks, reds, black and white, nude and black and anything bright," she says.
"I love dresses, especially for spring and summer," says Katrina Beets Craven, director of public relations at Hunter Museum of American Art. "It's so easy to throw on a dress, shoes and earrings and look instantly pulled together -- a real bonus for me as a working mom."
While many ladies love the dress, some are giving a thumbs down to the season's trendy patterned pants.
Diane Pitzl, fashion conscious of Chattanooga says she's a fan of the dress, especially after shedding pounds, but not patterned pants.
"Maybe it's my age," says the 63-year-old Pitzl. "I think I really like dresses because I'm no longer ashamed of my legs and I can wear high heels for the first time in about 30 years."
Local fashionista Brenda Prestwood-Langley, says she thinks "the printed pants will be a one-season thing," noting that she's "not into them."
"Patterned pants can be cute on some people but I doubt I'll buy a pair," Craven says. "They seem like a trend that will come and go pretty quickly."
Designers, though, like the patterned pant for spring, West says.
"I saw a lot of patterned pants, including jeans, when I was at market recently in New York," she says. "I carry the Mavi jeans and it has never offered a patterned jean until this season. Patterned and printed jeans will be huge for spring."
West says all cuts of pants and jeans ranging from skinny to straight, boot, bell and flare are trendy for spring.
"At my store, I tend to sell more skinny and straight pants/jeans, but in other parts of the country, the flare pants are hugely popular," she says.
"I think the printed pants will be a one-season thing," says Prestwood-Langley. "I'm just not into them."
Belk's Spring 2013 Most Wanted list focuses on updating one's warm-weather wardrobe with feminine Southern style, Goldstein explains.
"By adding a few pieces will make a big difference," she says. "Women also need to think about being creative with color. Nicole Kidman, for example, was recently photographed wearing a blue dress with bright green earrings. She's showing that colors no longer have to match. We started this last season but it's going to be big this season."
The biggest colors for spring centers around green, Goldstein says. "The warm colors will be big, too, including coral and all her sisters."
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...