(InStyle ) -- Here are some of the hottest new looks for the new season and the best ways to wear them:
Why we love it: This season, soft is not just about frilly blouses. Pick any article of clothing and you can find it in tempting colors and textures. Pieces in jersey, cashmere or silk are layered and draped with an emphasis on smoothing over curves and adding a sense of ease. Spring's biggest delight is discovering that comfort doesn't have to be compromised.
Make it work for you: Head-to-toe girlie is for china dolls. Instead, couple a feathery skirt and a tailored jacket, or keep the focus on an elaborate neckline above a straight mini. Transform willowy to willfully cool with a grounded, edgy shoe. Flat-iron hair. Country-singer curls belong onstage and on dolls.
Why we love it: The right shade from this color range instantly separates you from the black pack. Mislabeled a neutral, gray looks softer on the skin than black or navy. Shiny silver, more mellow than the stark chrome that was big on the runways for evening, provides mystery instead of flash.
Make it work for you: Gray's strength is to highlight line and detail, so choose pieces that emphasize cut, fabrication and craftsmanship. The hue pairs beautifully with red, and at night, silver begs for a dramatically painted face. You're already pre-lit with shimmer, so take advantage of it.
Why we love it:: Digital technology has given designers the ability to craft exuberant patterns that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. Whether they're stamped, woven, handpainted or silk-screened, the effect allows you to be your own Mardi Gras.
Make it work for you: Ask yourself how much attention you can handle. Even a short dress (no gowns, please!) will stop traffic. A kaleidoscope shoe or bag may be enough for you -- pair either with neutrals to show it off. And restrict what you put with eye-popping tops, skirts and pants: Those garments and accessories must satisfy a "noncompete" clause!
Why we love it:: This fascinating yet daunting amalgam of safari, global, hobo, ethnic, eco and military elements incorporates homages to Japan, Peru, Morocco and India, as well as trends like softness and exotic prints. The result is a highly individualized riff on casual clothing.
Make it work for you: Like the image it projects, the trekker look revels in a sense of adventure and risk. We see it as weekend/vacation wear (although bright beads or a patterned bag could enliven a suit or work separates). If you're more intrigued than committed to joining the caravan, use khaki tones or camouflage prints as a base and add one or two hot shots of sun-drenched color.
Trend: Peep show
Why we love it: The rush of lace, voile, satin, and semisheer beaded camisoles is as feminine as it gets. Paring these racy flirtations with a cardigan, soft pants, or a belted trench deliberately sends these outfits outdoors -- not as office attire, but rather as a cheeky take on sportswear.
Make it work for you: Best for intimate dates or celebrations, one bit of transparency worn with tailored pieces will kill in public. If choosing two or more elements, have dinner at home and add bed-head hair and dark eyes.
Why we love it: There's a startling abundance of dress shorts, tap pants, and minis and shifts not much longer than a tunic. More surprising is the variety in volume: pleated, poufed, shirred, cuffed, and even multiply crimped crinolines. But the reality is you have to be comfortable revealing a lot of bare leg -- and purchasing a ton of moisturizer if you do. Spring has plenty of other style possibilities if you don't want to put it all out there.
Make it work for you: The most effective way to ignite gam-a-lovin' rays is to cover up all the other parts of the body and leave only the legs showing. Also, it's an easier look to wear in the company of friends, in a backyard, or somewhere informal. If you're dressing up, cheat a bit and go longer. You won't be regarded as a purist, but you will be happier and more confident having fudged it.
Get a FREE TRIAL issue of InStyle - CLICK HERE!
Copyright © 2011 Time Inc. All rights reserved.