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I'd forgotten about spring. Somewhere between the economy crisis, the hovering unemployment issue, the housing market decline, and the daily octuplets news-flash, spring shopping got lost in the shuffle.

The stream of awards shows culminating in the Oscars typically sets off a seasonal shopping binge for me. This year I can't help getting antsy as stores stock up on fresh merchandise in a rainbow of upbeat colors.

But unfortunately the recession makes it hard to shop without feeling guilty. Should I buy it when I see it and not cut off the tags? Should I wait 'til it's marked down 70%? Should I see how the stock market shakes out before I buy Jimmy Choos or play it safe with Nine West?

I spent several afternoons doing “market research.” Shopping is like riding a bike-once -- you’re in the dressing room, it all comes back to you and your fears vanish…until you get home.

This year we’re going to spin spring shopping as a problem-solving, energy-saving, cut-the fat plan. It’s the only way to get off the cycle of splurge and remorse. You don’t need ALL the items here (just one or two will do), but the list will cut down on mall crawls, online browsing, and help you stress less about winter weight gain. Here are five trends,, to get you started:

1. Gold Shoes: Strappy gladiator sandals update everything. Start your spring spree with shoes because they’re not about size and these will make you feel rich and sexy. Check out: Kors Michael Kors Skorpion flat gladiator sandals ($190), Tory Burch’s Chain Flat Thong Sandal ($225) Diane Von Furstenberg’s Love Knot Thong Sandal ($245). All divine (and you can walk in them!)
2. The Ruffled Top: Ruffles feminize pants, dress up jeans, and make pencil skirts less stuffy. Soft-ruffled white blouses like Tory Burch’s sleeveless Deneuve (pictured, $195) and J. Crew’s Victoria ruffle cami ($88) are the new basic and divert attention to the upper body.

3. The Jumpsuit: Ignore your initial knee-jerk “no thanks” reaction. If you sit at a computer all day long, a sleek jumpsuit is so comfy you’ll forget you’re chic and I promise the restroom situation isn’t a big deal. I prefer the tailored styles like Theory’s sleeveless black stretch wool Jilleny with scoop neck ($345) and Vince’s shirt-collared denim version

4. The Boyfriend Jacket: This is not your big oversized blazer that’s hiding in the back of your closet! This revised version is long and narrow through the shoulders and arms. It’s stylish camouflage when thrown over dresses or with a tee and slouchy pants. My two favorites are Rag + Bones’ elongated blazer in red ($545) and Elizabeth and James James IV blazer ($395).

5. The Long Cardigan: Another great layering piece, this long and skinny cardy skims your body and frames it. Look for V neck styles to wear over skinny jeans and jersey dresses. I bought Vince’s green cashmere cardigan ($325) because green is the lucky money color, but check out Gap’s boyfriend cardigan ($54) in grey, pink and black. I wanted them all.

Lois Joy Johnson is the former beauty and fashion director for More Magazine.  Check out her other articles in our Health and Body section.


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