10 Must-Have Pieces To Modernize Your Wardrobe This Spring



Every few years, trends….shift.  Barely at first (I swear, on a year-to-year basis virtually nothing changes), but over time these little movements amount to the difference between perms and beachy waves:  both are curls, sure, but you’d never confuse one with the other.  (Unless you have a *magic* perm, and in that case, let us all know.)

So trends.  They are a-changin’.

But the good news is that we’re still in the midst of hundreds of barely imperceptible shifts.  Waistlines are creeping up, but not to a point where they’re dominating the market (let’s wait and see, shall we?).  Flip-flops aren’t really a thing anymore, but Tevas may (or may not) be, and shoes in general are just getting cooler across the board.  A really great tee will always have a place in my closet, but swapping out the typical tee for a pretty blouse feels really modern and fresh right now.

To make sense of where things are heading sartorially (as opposed to politically because WTF), I put together a weekend capsule wardrobe for Spring.  The intention here is to highlight 10 key pieces that will completely modernize your closet.  Best of all?  Most of these pieces can easily transition from the office to play dates to date night.

Keep reading for my 10 Spring must-haves…..



1. Crop Those Jeans!!!

featured: JBrand Boyfriend JeansMiH Cropped Flares, Current/Elliott Cuffed Skinnies 

If you do nothing else this Spring, crop your existing denim.  Chop off the hems (I use scissors and then wash them – works every time), or roll the cuffs.  You can experiment with one big cuff vs many smaller rolls.  The ideal length seems to be two inches above the ankle bone.  For you choppers out there [S raises hand], I tend to start longish and keep cutting.  You can also mess around with the mullet hem – shorter in the front, longer in the back.  I have a picture somewhere….



I prefer to cut the front all the way through the side seam.  If you don’t want the distressing, the tailor can do this for you – it’s a really sleek look (and will look amazing with ankle boots, too).

Cropping can be done on virtually any type of jean – skinny, boyfriend, flare, bootcut.  It’s all relevant, all on-trend.

2.  Go Beyond The Traditional Denim (or Chambray) Shirt

featured: Rag and Bone Drapey Denim Tank

Denim and chambray are having a moment so huge that it no longer feels like a trend.  Denim (or chambray) shirts have been around for years, and aren’t going anywhere.  But new to the scene?  A whole slew of denim tees and tanks in varying cuts.  We’re talking everything from conservative shells to skimpy, strappy tanks, or folded and tucked art pieces.

For Work:  A dark-wash denim shirt or shell (in a conservative cut) helps to keep a black suit from looking so stuffy.

Date Night: Double denim with sexy heels and bright lips.  Totally my jam.

My Favorites:

See more in our denim shirt shop….

3. Brighten Your Stripes

featured: Frame Denim Boatneck Tee

I feel silly talking about Stripes like a trend, when we really know it’s more of a lifestyle (haha)…and there’s certainly nothing wrong with your basic navy/white stripes….but if you are looking for something different, try a bright red stripe.  Or bright yellow.  A bright stripe is a perfect way for a neutrals girl to add some much-needed color to her wardrobe.  (Black skinnies all day everyday?  YES.  THESE.)

For Work: Bright yellow stripes look amazing under a gray suit, and there’s something so classic about red stripes tucked into a navy pencil skirt.

For Date Night:  I love the idea of offsetting a short little skirt with a brightly striped tee, or tucking one into a denim pencil skirt.  Heels, obviously.

My Favorites:

See more in our striped top shop….


4. Be Fancy In A Pretty Cotton Top

featured: Free People off-the-shoulderAnnabel Tank

As previously mentioned, we’re starting to move beyond the tshirt.  I’m not implying that one must flounce around in silk all day, but adding a pretty little top to your existing closet will open up a ton of styling possibilities.

My top pick for Spring?  One of the fancy-cotton tops.  These are sometimes off-the-shoulder, or boxy, or ruffled or eyelet or embroidered, but they all feel like a step up from a tshirt.  Not for lounging around the house, maybe, but it’ll certainly dress up any weekend outing.

For Work:  This is tricky, depending on the top.  I tend to like these type of tops with white (or light gray) trousers, but covering the shoulders is the tough part.  Depending on your top, a blazer might work, or a cardigan.

For Date Night:  I love these fancier tops with destroyed denim and high heels.  Such a perfect mix of girly and tomboy, innocence and sexy.

My Favorites:

See more in our cotton top shop….


5. Modernize Your T-Shirt

featured: Free People Cold Shoulder Top

This is the easiest everyday way to update your look:  modernize your tee.  Cut-out shoulders, asymmectic necklines or hems, elbow slits – look for unexpected cuts and drapes.

For Work: I’d hide a cold-shoulder top under a blazer for a seriously great day-to-night outfit.

For Date Night:  These tops are often so sexy that I find they’re enough on their own.   Add a few cool accessories, lipstick, and jeans, and you’re pretty much good to go!  They look sexier and fancier than a basic tee.

My Favorites:

See more in our modern tee shop….

6. Invest In A Leather Jacket

featured:  Madewell Leather Jacket

I bought my (admittedly very expensive) leather jacket over a year ago, and it has become one of my most-worn pieces.  The second the temps start crawling above 40+ degrees, I bust out my leather jacket.  I wear it to yoga, I wear it to pilates, I wear it to school drop off, I wear it running errands, I wear it on date nights and parent-teacher conferences and to even warm up fancy dresses at parties.

There isn’t another piece of clothing that has the versatility of a leather jacket.  It transcends generation – I’ll be wearing mine the rest of my life – it transcends time.  One of my friends recently referred to her leather jacket as the ‘little black dress’ of jackets.  Hers has been around 15+ years and is still going strong.  You want cost-per-wear?  This is IT.

There is literally nothing I can think of, no other piece of clothing that has made getting ready in the morning so easy.  A leather jacket looks good with virtually anything, and the styles and cuts vary so widely that everyone can find a piece that suits their style and body type.  A mom on the playground recently remarked that I looked “put together” at morning drop-off.  I was wearing a tshirt I had slept in, my hair was a mess (per usual), and I didn’t have any makeup on.  But I was wearing my leather jacket.  It’s kind of a life-saver that way.

For Work:  I think a leather jacket can be a really sharp stand-in for a blazer – especially zipped up so it looks intentional.  SO good with a pencil skirt.

For Date Night:  I’ve worn mine over tshirts and jeans, pretty party dresses and ball gowns.  Really anything works.

My Favorites:


See more in our leather jacket shop….

7. Carry A Lighter Bag

featured: Rebecca Minkoff Julian

I’m a huge fan of the one-great-bag theory, so I wore my black Rebecca Minkoff backpack everywhere last year, including Puerto Rico.  In hindsight…..a light bag looks so much more cohesive in the warmer months, even if you are wearing black sandals.  Besides, it’s much more chic to not-quite-match.

For Work: If you lighten up your work bag, it’ll make day-to-night transitions so much easier (as well as prevent you from looking like Gary on VEEP).

For Date Night: I’ve found that my small, white, cross-body bag looks good with virtually all outfits.  It’s surprising, but it feels so much more “Spring” than my smaller black clutches.

My Favorites: 

See more in our bag shop….

8. Lace-Up Your Shirt

featured: Madewell Lace-Up Tee (only navy left)

The lace-up trend is having a huge moment.  I don’t see this trend having the longevity of leather jackets or stripes, but if you just want a quick and easy piece to modernize your wardrobe, this is a solid choice.

For Work:  Most of these tops walk the line between sexy and conservative very well, and the lace-up detail looks really cool peeking out from under a blazer.

For Date Night: I’d just swap out your basic tee for a lace-up top, wear a pretty bra, and add a ton of bangle bracelets.  I’d offset the inherent gypsy vibe with simple skinny jeans and heels.

My Five Favorites:


See more in our lace-up tee shop….

9.  Chic Your Kicks

featured: New Balance For JCrew

White sneakers are having a moment.  Stan Smith, Adidas Superstars, or even this sleek slip-on from Vince – you won’t go wrong in 2016 with a killer pair of white sneaks.

But here’s the thing:  there are a ton of really great sneakers on the market.  Some have metallic accents (omg these), some incorporate some espadrille styling, some (and these are some of my personal favs) are heart-stopping red.

The message here is to grab a pair of kicks that make your heart beat fast.  Use these as outfit makers, the shoes you pull on when you’re just wearing a tshirt and jeans.  Go for the gusto.

For Work:  The only way I can see sneaks working in an office is if you have trousers perfectly hemmed to accomodate.  There’s something so cool about sneakers peeking out of a suit, but only a lucky few can actually pull this look off.

For Date Night:  Sneakers are brilliant with a sporty, bodycon dress.  Or a mini dress.  This is my go-to summer date night formula when tons of walking will be involved.  (Or girls night, rather.  Mini dresses + sneakers are amazing for dancing your ass off with the girls.)

My Favorites:


See more in our shoe shop….

 10. Try Pretty, Lace-Up Flats

featured: bp katrina flats

The best way to wear boyfriend jeans right now is with a pair of drool-worthy flats and a tshirt.  Add a leather jacket, DONE.  I recently instagrammed (@shanachristine) something like that:


leather jacket (size 36) | jeansshoes | necklace | suitcase

For Work: I especially love lace-up flats with slim black trousers (think Audrey Hepburn).  Just make sure they’re cropped enough to show them off.

For Date Night:  Not only are flats super comfy for walking, but they help balance some of my, um….more risque outfits.  Show some leg (underbum?  haha – that was from a recent commenter), some show boobs….and then go all conservative with FLATS.

My Favorites:

See more in our shoe shop….


If you haven’t yet noticed, we’ve been busy creating curated boutiques for Spring.  You can find them under the drop-down menu called Shop Our Favs.  It looks like this:



On mobile devices, you find the menu by clicking those three bars at the top (and then the “V” next to Shop Our Favs):



Happy Spring!!




  1. I love everything… Except the cropped look. For some reason, I think they look *terrible* on me. Something about the length of my leg and the difference between the size of my thigh and my skinny ankle. How do you figure out the length of crop that is going to work the best? Is there a rule of thumb? I would love to rock this trend but am not sure how to make it work.

    • I’m with you CatS- I am not sure about the cropped look. For me, it’s more due to swollen calves, so I feel that I have to watch where the crop line ends up both when I am standing and sitting- makes it harder. I will say if you have skinny ankles that Shana’s rule of about two inches above the ankle bone will work. Thoughts Shana?

      • I think I’m just sorta having a mental block because to me cropped = capris. And I’ve never liked capris, so there is that. I dunno. Maybe I’ll hack off a pair that I don’t like that much and see what happens.

        • Oh this reminds me of that great ANMJ post way back when on the “danger zone” of capris/crops. I will have to sit this and anything ankle-wrapping out since I have swollen ankles/edema/cankles 🙁

    • I’m not sure where else to request this so I’m doing it here… Would you consider doing a post to help us gear up for wedding season? I have a cocktail attire wedding coming up, followed by a “Black Tie Hollywood” wedding. Really not sure what to do about that one. Any advice will be much appreciated! Thanks for all the wonderful posts!

      • Yes! I’ve been thinking I needed to ask about some fun wedding attire too! “Seattle Backyard wedding in May, cocktail attire and dancing”

  2. Love this whole post. Gives me a good direction as I start to assemble a capsule wardrobe for my overall closet. Curated items and then adding in pieces as I go into each season.

    I am in the market for a good leather jacket, but here’s my question- how do you find the right one? Due to my shape, I do better with a draped jacket (think Vince paper leather jackets) but always think that style will look dated rather than chic and timeless. There’s a big difference between the leather jackets a la 1980’s think Thriller than the très chic Parisian look…Would love your thoughts…

    • Shana, LOVE this post! Cropped denim obvs, but just saw a photo of Caroline de Maigret for Boden in a pink Breton and thought hmmmm- thanks for validating!

      Beth, taller and curvier? You said it with drape, but also LENGTH- was probably a game of millimeters for me. Wanted the classic black moto. Returned every one I tried over a period of five years. Finally hit the perfect combo of length, cut and drape and it’s everything I dreamed it would be. 🙂 I got almost exactly the same comment Shana mentioned at school drop off on Monday- while wearing it over my running tee, dirty jeans and chucks. Yessss!

      • Maggie- YES! Length!!! That is SO true. While I am the shortest in my family at 5’9″ I am tall for many of the jackets. So do tell- which one did you buy??? I need details (and would love a photo- but would settle for deets!).

        • You’re a bit taller than I am, but I bet my ridiculously long torso makes up the difference. My budget wasn’t a match for some of S’s picks (I would get into so much trouble at Anine Bing if it did…) but I’d take a long hard look at that All Saints Papin Jacket. (Although the Rawley wins my heart with the belt. I’m all about the belt.) I think I see a hint of curve at the waist in the front shot, and those seams in the back look SO flattering for curves. Not to mention that bit of detail at the shoulder might be a perfect balance for curvy hips/bum… I wish they listed body length, though. (I always wish that.) The one I bought – which I am so sorry to say is sold out everywhere – had a body length a bit over 23, near 24 inches, which made a world of difference compared to all of the 21/22s I kept trying. Love to see a pic if you do a try-on order!

  3. I love these ideas, as usual. I have a serious question though… with little ones, who has time to lace up the adorable flats? Have you come across any options that “look” laced up, but zip or pull on by chance???

    • Jess, I have a pair from Topshop and you just slip in and out apart from the v quick ankle wrap- easy. Mom of 4-approved! 🙂

  4. Love the “mullet” cropping, but I’m having trouble pulling the trigger on a pair of jeans… you say they would look good with ankle boots? I would love to see a picture with that pair, curious if the same length looks good with flats AND ankle boots.

  5. This is just the most perfect article! I’m always looking for clothes that can do double-duty (work wear and weekend wear), but struggle with figuring out how to transition the pieces. So thank you for this, it’s a perfect guide to inform future purchases!

  6. Love it, thank you! So was my Shana inspired hot pink Herschel fanny pack a one season item? Can I still rock it this summer, or keep it in hiding for another 10 years?

  7. Wait. What? When did flips flops stop being a thing? Do I have to hang up my black havaianas slims? It just got warm and I’m already wearing them with all the jeans!!

    • I’m with you on this one, Kimberly. Maybe it’s the California girl in me, but FLIP FLOPS FOREVER! Plus, with the warm weather constant in & out of the house with my mud-obsessed toddler, it’s the only way I can throw shoes on and catch him before he runs into the street and then kick them off and not track mud into the house when I run back in for the forgotten water bottle/toy/older sister potty break.

  8. Agree w previous posters..I need to see more photos of cropped jeans before I’m convinced. I like rolling/cuffing but they don’t seem to stay in place for long 🙂

  9. Re: chic sneakers… I am having a devil of a time finding cool kicks that aren’t super narrow. I feel hard in love with a classic New Balance pair but the fit was terrible. Ditto the classic Saucony styles. Recs for non-narrow options?

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