Brighten up Your Winter Style

Our closets -- full of camel, charcoal, black and navy -- can seem downright oppressive during this third month of winter. But with spring style arriving in stores already, it’s the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe with accent pieces that promise to be relevant all year long.

By shopping with future color trends in mind, your spring purchases can pair with today’s neutrals or next fall’s deep palette. Spring’s silvery gray, dusty pink, lavender and coral-rose mix with upcoming fall shades of purpled wine, coffee brown, loden green and inky navy.

Spring style collections also feature some traditional fall colors, such as brown, russet and dark blue-greens that will remain important for fall, says color consultant Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. So hold on to those gray sweaters, camel jackets and charcoal pants. They can work with spring’s cropped jackets, fresh prints and vivid leather belts and bags.

Below, color and fashion experts give the lowdown on how to beat the winter style blahs with color.

1. Banish Black -- for a Bit
“The little black dress doesn’t have to be black anymore,” says celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, author of The Shopping Diet. “Get some spice in your life. Try that dress in brown, plum, burgundy or green. It does the same things as black does. You can still dress it up or down, and it makes you look slim.”

2. Update a Classic With a Bold Color
This spring, designers at all price levels are offering the sporty-but-classic anorak. Its drawstring hood, zippers and snaps help chase away the wind and rain, but in new colors such as yellow, coral, red and turquoise, they’re great antidotes to drab days.

3. Sweeten Your Look With Honeysuckle
Pantone picked the reddish-pink hue as the defining color of 2011, so you can expect to see the uplifting shade in everything from evening wear to key chains. New York designers Nanette Lepore, Peter Som and Badgley Mischka employed this pink for dainty day and evening dresses, but you can expect to see it in cosmetics, sportswear and accessories. It’s a wonderful complement to brown, gray and green.

4. Incorporate Color on Bad-weather Days
Rain boots, umbrellas, scarves, gloves and hats not only are more fun to wear in vivid colors, but they can help spur experimentation with your daywear. Start with bright accessories, and you’ll be able to easily make the transition from black to bold in your staple pieces too.

5. Spin the Color Wheel
There’s nothing like a fresh color-combination to perk up your basics. Bloch has been pairing unusual tones with browns, including warm reds, soft pinks, baby blues, deep purple, forest green and pristine white. While the days are still dark, you can warm up neutrals with such combinations as gray worn with camel, butterscotch or marine blue. Going forward, black and white reappear in spring prints with jolts of cobalt. Designer Lela Rose paired teal with black for spring, but the blue-green works wonders to freshen winter’s black and brown too.

6. New Shoe Hues
Whether you’re wearing a sensible gray sheath dress or a black suit, you don’t have to play it safe with black shoes. “The days of matchy-matchy are gone,” says Bloch. “More and more in Hollywood, actresses are throwing on some random-color shoes.” Designers are following their example this spring and fall, even adding animal prints to the mix. On the runway, Valentino paired strappy turquoise sandals with a jaguar-print coat, while Giambattista Valli showed patterned tights and jaguar-print ankle boots with black and deep-olive cocktail dresses.