The first few months of the year may be a great time for going back to the gym and evaluating your budget, but in my opinion, they're the weakest months for fashion.

Yes, yes, the period from January to March contains awards season, which is my favorite holiday. And may I just say that if the Golden Globes are any indication, this season is going to be one hell of a red carpet battle for best-dressed.

But if you are a member of the general public, this is the time of year when all those efforts by fashion designers to make fashion accessible to you - "So-and-so for Target" collections, sales through Ideeli and Gilt Groupe - go out the window.

I'm talking about resort wear. In the real world, where the majority of the population lives, lounging on the beach all winter is what you tell people you'll do if you win the lottery. Actually, what you're doing all winter is staring out your office window at the slush, thinking about how it will be dark when you leave work. That's if you have an office window.

It's depressing enough not to have a vacation on the horizon. But stores like to remind you of it anyway by promoting a lovely display of neon-printed silk tunics and leaving you with one table of crumpled, dejected, ugly wool sweaters for 75 percent off. And in my case, even if I am lucky enough to be going on vacation, the last thing I have money left over for is a $100 straw hat.

The way I see it, this leaves us real-world residents with two options:

1. Not shopping from January to March. (Gah!)

2. Finding ways to wear resort items in non-resort conditions.

True, option two is a challenge. But every year there are a few resort and spring trends that you can wear prematurely, and this year is no exception. Read on for pieces that will brighten your winter wardrobe, and how to wear them if you're staying local.

Turquoise skinny jeans

Turquoise jeans are everywhere. I'm also seeing a lot of red and magenta, but those were around for fall as well, whereas the turquoise appears to be a new phenomenon.

What's helpful about this trend is that jeans are inherently warm, so you don't need to worry about 50-degree difference in temperature between your hometown and, say, the Caribbean. However, the color is not a traditional pick for winter, so you'll need to be careful about the supporting colors you choose.

For winter, try another shade of blue, such as navy or cobalt. If you prefer pairing the jeans with a neutral color, camel or gray are both good choices. Stay away from white, as white with turquoise is a very summery pairing. As the weather gets warmer - ideally around mid-March, but who really knows - you can wear them with a true red, tangerine, kelly green or bright yellow-gold.

Right now, don your turquoise jeans with a slightly oversized camel or gray sweater, navy boyfriend blazer, or cable knit in one of winter's many shades of blue. If you're still conscious that the color of the jeans is just a smidge too bright, add tall boots or ankle boots with socks.

Color-blocked tops

Color blocking is showing no signs of demise for the coming year, and it's becoming more literal, with geometric panels of bright color on the same top. That's actually great news, because now you can have a break from that solid-colored button down and wear this with jeans on the weekend or with trousers or under a blazer to work.

In addition, for a night out with friends, wearing sleeveless tops can get chilly. A silk color-blocked top is still a sassy choice, but will keep you slightly warmer for hitting the town in the dead of winter.

Striped mini-dresses

Nautical styles are usually staples for resort collections, because everyone who shops for resort wear probably also owns a boat.

Traditionally, navy and white stripes are the gold standard here. But with a pattern that includes stark white, it's important that the dress is a thicker fabric, such as wool, jersey or thick cotton, if you will be wearing it in winter. There are other classic combinations that are slightly easier to wear in winter, such as dark red and cream.

When it comes to stripes, they don't have to be nautical, and a lot of designers have introduced more colorful patterns. Fuchsia, tangerine and black is a carry-over color pairing from last year's red carpet, and it's easy to wear with black tights and boots in the winter.

Colorful silk scarves

If you don't want to drop big bucks on something you're not sure will work for winter, pick out a colorful scarf that you can wear with your neutrals to jazz them up. It will satisfy your shopping craving with minimal cash and commitment.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at kschiavone@tribune.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)