When using black and white in your wardrobe, its not a matter of "go big or go home"; you can go for a little contrast, or bold, big prints –- they both work for spring 2008. We love equally the subtlty of this Marc by Marc Jacobs lightly dotted black and white blouse, and the classic, enlarged polka dot print on the skirt portion of this Valentino dress. Go big and bold with spots all over; try the Polkadot Tube Dress ($22.80, Forever 21) or if you're not ready to take it big time, channel the look into an accessory. We love the Printed Calf-Hair Belt ($34.99, J.Crew) and the Printed Calf-Hair Mirabelle Clutch ($199.99, also J.Crew). This sophisticated clutch will add a dash of whimsy and excitement to any stuffy, formal affair. Segue the look into footwear with the Xhilaration Sable Ballet Flats in Black/ White Polka Dot ($10.49, Target), which can spruce up a basic outfit or lbd.
Earn Your Stripes
Well…not really…except perhaps among the ranks of fellow fashionistas. You can "earn your stripes" by showing them you know how to work the black and white trend with hard-to-miss horizontal and vertical pairings. From the runways, we drew inspiration from these Sass & Bide, Paul Smith, and Charlotte Ronson tops –- proving that stripes can be refined and dressy, yet still err on the playful side. For a sporty approach, try the Converse One Star Ruched Polo in Ebony/ Ivory ($11.89, Target), or the Converse One Star Striped Tank in Ivory/ Ebony ($9.09, also Target). Wear the tank alone, or layer it under a sheer t-shirt or button down. The canvas 'Gisele' Vans ($29.99, Alloy) are perfect for the approaching warm weather, and look fabulous peaking out from the bottom of jeans. Dress the look up with this Lauren Ralph LaurenSilk Poplin Shirt ($49.99, Ralph Lauren), or the Lauren Ralph Lauren Aaron Striped Broadcloth Shirt ($44.99 Ralph Lauren); we love it with white jeans (pictured), or pair with some wide-leg trousers. A striped dress that doesn't distort the figure is hard to come by, but this slimming, jersey knit Betsey Johnson Halter Dress in Black and Cream ($125.22, LabelSpree.com), draws the eyes upward due to its cinched halter details. As most would probably agree, it's best to keep the stripes in accessories or on top for the most part, so we'd discourage getting adventurous with the trend below the waist, unless a thin, pinstriped version is involved.
A print, regardless of whether it's menswear-inspired, florals, or geometrics looks absolutely stunning in black and white. We particularly loved the prints and patterns by Staerk, Milly, Eli Saab, Diane von Furstenberg, Prada, and Valentino. For a confident dose of menswear-derived black and white, try the Checker Plaid Tunic ($22.80, Forever 21) -- it's lumberjack meets the city girl in this sleeveless number, decked out with buttons and ruffles for an ultra-feminine effect. Skater boy meets girl in these DC Mantega 2 Shoes ($34.99, Alloy) -- the patent details and lime green trim makes it known that these are made for more than just rocking out on a skateboard. Pair them with a khaki mini skirt or skinny jeans for the slick, street-chic look. If you'd like the look to head for the office, try these Xhilaration Sable Ballet Flats in Houndstooth ($10.49, Target); they're sure to add an extra spark to your traditional work gear.
We've also seen quite a bit of black-and-white florals for spring, and have discovered that its quite easy to incorporate the look into our wardrobe. Start with the Monochromatic Tube Dress ($27.80, Forever 21) or the Holly Floral Bubble Dress ($34.80, also Forever 21). These strapless dresses with a white background and black flowers feels slightly 1950s, yet modern enough to offer up a fresh take for the spring. Try a floral accessory, like the Xhilaration Slouchy Hobo Bag in Black/ White Floral ($9.99, Target) or the Xhilaration Envelope Clutch in Black ($14.99, Target) We'd love to see these bags against a pop of color, like a fire engine red or electric blue.
Update your look this spring with a high contrast combination of black and white, be it stripes, spots, or menswear-inspired pattens -- a trend that is not only hot now, but will surely extend it's lifespan into the fall and winter!
Note: there may be a way to make the items mentioned above an even better bang for your buck -- remember to search stylenotes for special promotions and coupon codes that may be applied to your order.