SPRING OUTERWEAR Spring's mix of rainy days and cool evenings begs for a stylish outerwear covering. Thankfully this season's toppers are top of the line.

Statement trenches, '50s-style dusters and bold anoraks abound, replacing that comfy and ubiquitous sweater, says Arlene Goldstein, Belk's fashion director.

"It's part of the ladylike trend," she said at a recent event, adorned herself in a black dress topped with a tweedy one-button duster.

Trenches were a highlight of spring fashion shows, with standard-bearer Burberry featuring a turquoise trench made from tiny strands of leather woven with raffia. "It was like looking at the most intricately woven African basket," says Jen Ford, fashion news and features director for Lucky magazine.

"This is really the time to splash out in a great statement trench," she says. "If your clothes tend to be a little more classic or basic, a statement coat is a fun way to add punch to your everyday wardrobe. It's a really easy way to dabble in a trend. If you want a touch of tribal, it's easy to mix in with your blacks or khakis."

The words "statement trench" might conjure up images of screaming bright colors, but subtle colors also make a stunning statement. Trenches in more muted colors like eggshell blue or other soft pastels work well in many wardrobes.

But Ford cautions that a trench must work well with the colors in your existing wardrobe.

"It's spring, so your coat is going to be open and you'll see what's underneath."


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Anoraks are broadening their appeal beyond the sports scene, with designers like Marc Jacobs and Victoria Beckham turning out the jackets in fabrics like sheeny satin and rock-and-roll metallics. "It's borrowed from the gym, but more feminine," says Goldstein.

Whichever topper you choose, consider it your finishing touch, says Goldstein. "These options add to a polished, pulled together look."

--McClatchy Newspapers