New York — For quite some time blue has been an afterthought in most wardrobes. Not this year.
While you probably already have blue jeans, a crisp blue blazer and a well-washed blue sweatshirt, you're going to need a lot more -- especially since it looks like it'll continue to be one of the most popular fashion colors through next fall and holiday seasons, too.
The blues for spring are bright and crisp, even if it's a dark shade such as navy, while the fall blues will be a little earthier or a jewel tone like teal.
Donna Karan's spring collection features a cobalt python wrap jacket, and the Calvin Klein collection includes a marine, clover and teal silk jersey tank dress that moved on the runways like waves of the ocean.
Michael Kors is offering several looks he says are inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. The tones range from aqua to sapphire, and outfits can be festive -- an aqua cashmere cardigan and matching pullover over an aqua organza ruffled skirt -- or more casual -- a cobalt and white cotton pique batik suit, for example.
"An endless horizon of blue water and sky combined with crisp white contrasts is both classic and fresh at the same time," says Kors.
Michael Fink, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, says clothing's color cycle is actually determined years in advance by fabric mills. There always are a few new trends since the mills look to offer something different to their clients each season, but, this year more than most "it seems as if everyone was on the same wavelength -- everything is very 'ocean,"' Fink explains.
He adds: "And then it seems as if all the designers took their vacations near water and got their inspirations."
As a retailer, Fink is happy to see so much blue because customers see it as an approachable color.
"Blue looks great on people," he says, and it works in daywear and eveningwear -- especially in an icy blue -- and in jewelry, where turquoise is making a comeback.
It's also a wise investment, according to Fink, because it works with all the other colors that have been popular recently, including pink and orange.
The bright ocean blue and the more 1980s-style electric blue in stores now are smart, vibrant and sporty, observes Sally Singer, Vogue's fashion news director. Then there's a softer blue, more like turquoise jewelry, that works with more bohemian dressing.
Singer also likes two other shades: a Scandinavian blue, "which is almost a neutral. It looks both cool and kind of crafty and familiar"; and a Wedgwood blue that has a warmth even though it also is a cool color.
Burberry did a version of the Wedgwood blue in its floral prints, Singer says.
Blue is a breath of fresh air after so many seasons of very girlie pink because of its coolness, yet it can be feminine, she explains. "Cate Blanchett at the Golden Globes was one of the best blue moments in a long time. It was a pleasurable blue."
(Blanchett wore a periwinkle Jean-Paul Gaultier gown with floral appliques and an asymmetrical shape.)
"A tomboy is always sexy because she's interesting and confident," Singer adds.
She also notes that it's interesting that for all the blue that's out there this season, very little of it is denim or very preppy looks.
Blue has made inroads into accessories -- normally the territory of black, white and camel.
"I think people in accessories tend to produce things that people think will complement a wide variety of ready-to-wear," says Abbe Held, co-owner and creative director of Kooba. "But, as accessories become more important in your wardrobe plan, people are bringing in more -- maybe four or five for a season instead of just their new black or white bag so there's room for more colors."
Kooba's spring line includes a printed python tote in cream and light blue, and a turquoise leather bag called Alex.
"We don't traditionally do a lot of blues. ... But the light, cooler blues really are quite neutral and go with almost anything for spring, especially all the white looks," Held says.