The first weeks of spring offer a kind of seasonal renewal contract for my look. During these heady days, I'm overcome with the urge to purge, or at the very least rework what I've been working for the last six months.
The following is a handful of the best beauty and fashion products I've discovered recently and intend to incorporate into my warm-weather wardrobe.
• Prada this! Dismayed by the laughable cost of designer handbags this season, I'll sport a bag that's big on authentic style and low on cost: L.L. Bean's classic canvas Boat and Tote bag. The 10-inch-by-9-inch size comes with long shoulder straps in a variety of contrasting colors and costs a measly $17. Take it over the top by having it monogrammed for a few bucks more. Wear it with an overpriced little black dress, bare legs and high heels for a look that says, 'I will stay as long as you amuse me.'
• I've tried them all and have found the best Ñ mascara, that is. Almay One Coat mascara costs just over 5 bucks and doesn't migrate to other regions of your face. Best of all, it's available at Fred Meyer, meaning you can throw it in your cart along with other necessities, like champagne and Kit Kat bars.
• Have your stylist shelve the scissors: The best new haircuts are done with a straight razor. The effect is softer, sexier and actually looks better a month or so into the cut. Carrie Brewster at downtown's 220 Salon suggests tucking bobby pins randomly throughout a layered cut to change the shape and give it a punky edge.
• Orange alert, my eye Ñ and cheeks and lips. The citrus shade was the beauty hit of the 2003 spring runways. Best used in single slices, orange balances the season's '80s-inspired brights and whites. MAC's lip lacquer in Sonnet is a delicious place to start. It's $16 at Nordstrom.
• In keeping with the ladylike clothes that walked the runways for spring, the best nails are also classically pretty. Wear a true red on your toes Ñ very Hollywood starlet Ñ and a blush pink on your fingertips. Essie's Ballet Slippers has long been considered the perfect soft pink and runs about $7.50 at most mall beauty-supply stores.
• Now that we're about through with the Winter That Wasn't, it's time to reintroduce my favorite denim skirt into spring rotation. Made by Alice Dobson of Sofada boutique, the skirts feature her signature cutout hem and are crafted from perfectly thrashed 501s that she finds at thrift stores. Dobson sells the skirts ready to wear at 4623 N.E. Fremont St., or will remake your favorite pair of jeans into one for you. Prices vary.
• I was kicked out of ballet class as a child Ñ bad attendance, worse attitude Ñ but that didn't stop me from developing a fondness for dance apparel, particularly the little wrap sweaters that ballerinas wear to keep their spindly bodies warm. Simply sleek in black and prettier in pink, the sweater is especially chic with jeans and flat boots. Dance stores, such as the Leotard at Lloyd Center, sell them for about $37.
• Forget men Ñ a good tank is harder to find; they seem to be either too skimpy or too underwearish, like something filched from Grandpa. Look no farther: Banana Republic has the perfect tank for $18. It provides just the right amount of coverage and comes in basic and fashion colors, such as fuchsia, making it an easy way to indulge in the pink trend.
• The polo shirt is another big trend for spring, and the best are still by Lacoste, available at Mercantile downtown and Elizabeth Street on Northwest 23rd Avenue for $70. Yes, the shrunken look is big, but I also like the contrast of an oversized polo with a flippy little skirt and flat sandals Ñ very 'Daddy says I can sign for it.'
• On the silver spoon side, I am enamored of J. Crew's new patchwork chinos, which are equal parts preppy and 'What the hell is she wearing?' The cropped shape and irreverent attitude make them the perfect summer knock-around pants. Available online at www.jcrew.com for $48.
• Underneath it all is a T-shirt bra without unnecessary oomph or ouch. The lightweight demi-cup bra by Zo‘ at Odessa in the Pearl District is the perfect balance of reality and reined-in. Also $48 and worth every cent.