Pick your palette: The best and brightest of spring fashion’s color trends

Spring brings so much excitement: warmer temperatures, more time outside, and the ritual of packing away bulky winter clothes. But perhaps the best part is the return of color. Yellow daffodils, pink tulips, blue hyacinths, bright green leaves — they make the world vibrant again. As the flowers bloom in a burst of hues, your wardrobe should too.

With a little guidance from the runway, you can start adding pops of the most au courant colors to your closet. Focusing on color is one of the easiest ways to integrate spring 2011’s fashion trends into your existing wardrobe. Pair them with a neutral for a punch of color, or mix and match in innovative ways — unexpected color pairings was a strong trend this season as well.

Dutch blue – Blue will always be standard — it’s the variations on the tried-and-true tone that make it covetable from season to season. The shade that looked freshest on spring’s runways was a Dutch blue, recalling the blues of Vermeer’s muses’ clothing and Delft tiles. Michael Kors showed how the color works for men or women by adding it to just one piece in an overall look, like a shirt or trousers. Diane Von Furstenburg paired it with bridle-leather browns to stunning effect.

Pink – Pantone named “honeysuckle pink” the color of the year, and you’ll definitely want to wear it. Somewhere on the spectrum between bubblegum and coral, the dominating tones of pink are vibrant and rich — not garish or faint. The color showed up on a number of runways, from Jil Sander to Jason Wu.

Orange – In the past, orange hasn’t been the easiest color to wear, but with some tweaks from design masterminds, it’s now a must-have shade. The ’70s were a very clear inspiration for the Marc by Marc Jacobs show, and warm, deep oranges were popping up everywhere, from dresses to belts to handbags. It also showed up in a number of Prada looks, in both single-color dresses and in the boldly colored stripes that have been another theme of the season.

White – Argumentative people might say it’s the absence of color, but white makes a huge statement, particularly in monochromatic ensembles. And that was exactly what was happening at a number of spring shows. BCBG Max Azria showed a number of all-white looks — it featured more prominently than any other color in the show — as did Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein. Since spring is a time associated with freshness and renewal, it’s little wonder that white would be a popular choice — just don’t tell grandma you’re bringing it out before Memorial Day.

Chartreuse – Yellow has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years, so it stands to reason that fashion designers are getting a bit more daring with it. A green undertone seems to be the idea of the moment, moving yellow to chartreuse, a more luminescent and modern variation on the color. Rodarte and Proenza Schouler, always in the avant garde, featured the color in a number of looks.