NY fashion forecasts easy, breezy spring 2011

That mid-calf length complements the fluid and flowy dresses from the disco era. You don’t need to wear a floppy hat or oversized flower in your hair to see the shift in femininity.

NEW YORK  _ The collective message to come out of eight days _ and more than 100 runway shows _ at New York Fashion Week is that there’ll be a longer, looser look to spring 2011. The buzz was about easy glamour inspired by the 1970s.

But is easy glamour easy to wear if you’re not a Lauren Hutton type?

Fashion insiders seem to think so. They say it’ll be a welcome break from the aggressive, tough-shoulder, skinny-pant style that has dominated fashion the past few seasons.

“What designers are trying to show is that people want to reach beyond where fashion has been in its hard, military protective gear,” said Joanna Coles, Marie Claire editor in chief. “Fashion is craving a more optimistic place. Fall seemed a little jaded, even if the clothes were magnificent. But we’re looking now for something lighter, fresher and younger.”

The silhouette has already started to be more fluid and languid, especially with trousers, says Colleen Sherin, women’s fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, but it’s confirmed moving forward into next year. Shoppers should find that the high waist and fit-and-flare legs are flattering, she said.

However, as a retailer _ and a woman _ the best news is the new longer, below-the-knee hemline, Sherin said. “One of the trends we’re most excited about is the `midi.’ It was in almost every collection.”

That mid-calf length complements the fluid and flowy dresses from the disco era. You don’t need to wear a floppy hat or oversized flower in your hair to see the shift in femininity.

A flat shoulder bag, however, might be a good place to start with accessories, Sherin notes.

The flat sandal caught the eye of InStyle editor Ariel Foxman. “There’s an idea that you can wear flats for evening, and that you can wear them with confidence,” he said. He’s hesitant to call anything from the New York catwalks a bona fide trend yet, however, because there is still so much to see in London, Paris and Milan, Italy, over the coming weeks.

Personally, though, he’s been “seduced” by all the neutral and sand colors _ and the flecks of gold. “They might not be the most exciting clothes on the runway, but it really allows one to see the details, and we’ve seen a lot of really gorgeous pieces.”

The lack of flashy embellishment likely meant extra work for designers. Mastering simplicity is quite a challenge.

“It’s all about the way you cut it, the texture. … You can’t hide behind ruching and ruffles. But I love simplicity when it’s right,” designer Michael Kors said backstage just before his “Sunshine State of Mind” collection debuted on the runway.

Saks’ Sherin noted that so many fashion shows opened with a white look, “a palette cleanser” to the new, more optimistic season. There were some joyful colors _ hot pink, orange, purple and green, among them, added Coles.

Coles said she’ll be excited to put the color-blocking in editorial shoots. For real women, however, they’ll need to become comfortable with the new palette. “People like color but people don’t always know what to do with it,” she said.

For those who like to be ahead of the trends, here’s a jump-start on the spring shopping list:

_ Featherweight, gauzy dress that’s delicately draped and hits mid-calf.

_ Trenchcoat _ dressy, practical, made of linen or sheer tulle. Maybe you need multiples.

_ High-waist trouser fitted through the thigh and flared out at the hem.

_ Sexy silk blouse, perhaps an off-the-shoulder peasant style.

_ Crafty embellishment, think macrame or something crocheted.

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