Keep your spirits and wardrobe bright, even when it's freezing
It appears that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong this year. Spring is definitely not coming early.

Across the nation, it is still, for lack of a more effective phrase, pretty freaking cold. I was almost blown off the street by the wind walking to my bus yesterday. This morning I didn't put gloves on before leaving Starbucks (because I'm morally opposed to wearing gloves on the first day of spring) and my hands were numb half a block later.

The big question is, how's a girl supposed to dress for this nonsense? Mind you, this is not a continuation of "spring trends to start wearing now." This is "I'm standing in front of my closet and freezing my behind off, but I'm sick of wearing gray." It's the problem that occurs when everything you own that's warm is also very wintery, and you're over wearing it because it's already been a whole season.

What I've started doing to alleviate this issue, which I inevitably have every year, is collecting a few items here and there that are actually functional for spring. Though you may want the wedges and tank tops that pop up in store windows, it's also smart to buy a few things that are stylistically springy but will keep you warm. Then, when you can finally shed the coat, these pieces are perfect for those first few outdoor nights of summer.

Pair with some of your existing stuff, such as jeans, cotton trousers or pencil skirts, blouses and light cardigans that easily go from spring to summer. And voila ... you've started a spring wardrobe.

Colorful or patterned blazers

Apparently, sometimes in the middle of March you need an extra layer. However, I know that my favorite blazers are gray and black, so that doesn't really do it when you're trying to transition your wardrobe.

When you're shopping for this spring blazer, one thing that will make a subtle difference is going for fitted instead of boyfriend. The look will also benefit from modest hardware -- as far as bling, keep it to gold buttons but nothing flashier. Oversized pieces and those with heavy embellishments typically look more wintery. As far as fit, you can also find one with three-quarter or ruched sleeves. It will still be warm, but you can start showing a little forearm for the beginning of spring.

Bright, solid colored blazers are great, and printed ones are becoming more prominent. The striped choice from Banana Republic epitomizes one easy tip: nautical is always a staple for spring and summer, because you know, sailing usually occurs in warmer weather. Navy or striped blazers will go far.

Flat ankle boots

I don't know about you, but I am not about to walk out of my house with the tops of my feet exposed. I'm still wearing UGG boots home from the gym to cover my shins if I'm wearing cropped pants that day. But tall boots, especially those with heels, are very severe. Flat ankle boots offer only the coverage that you absolutely need, and they can be worn with skirts too. Perhaps even shorts on a casual weekend shopping trip.

Thin or cotton sweaters

Put away the thick wool sweaters and invest in a couple of brightly colored sweaters. You're looking for one of two things: either thinness or a chunky sweater made of 100 percent cotton. For example, I have a cotton cable knit that's bright white instead of off-white, which makes it appropriate for spring. I also love my thin sweaters with jeans or skinny pants and pointed-toe flats when it gets warmer, or with shorts and sandals on summer nights. The J.Crew sweater in azalea is a perfect example of pairing a spring color with a warmer style.

Oxford shirts

You can wear these with anything at any time. Winter-to-spring wardrobe fatigue is the perfect reason to buy them.

Lightweight tights

Like sweaters and blazers, tights usually stay on the dark side for fall and winter. I hate wearing my black tights after February is over, so I always stock up on shades like nude, mink and light gray. Steer clear of wool and go for a breezier texture and pattern.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)