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Fashion Talk: High-voltage neons for spring

By Tommie Roberts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The world of fashion is in its brightest form yet. Pop goes the color palette with the sudden resurgence of exciting combinations of high-voltage neon brights.

Top tastemakers pressed the reset button and raided the crayon box with circa '80s-influenced super-shock, optimistic color. Jaw-dropping shades produced pizzazz-packed runways. Big, bold neon brights are the "it" colors of the 2012 spring season.

Day-Glo vibrancy packs zest into the spring season like the electrifying neon collection of Stephen Sprouse way back in 1984 at the Ritz, a New York City nightclub. What a fashion moment!

There are so many fashionable associations with neon: Andy Warhol's portraits of Marilyn Monroe in the '60s, Keith Haring's bold art, and the whole Southern California surf culture captured by Body Glove.

The 2012 neons are not '80s neons. The color comeback plays into a more carefree attitude. They are a grown-up, modern, soft, feminine and absolutely ageless look this season. People are looking to have a little fun.

Color adds a touch of flirt to fun and a hit of neon highlights your style in a crowd of forgettable, by-the-book looks. Electric hues drive this unfussy trend. Bright, sunshiny-day colors add snappy style in full-on saturation to this neon explosion.

Spring fashion is love at first brights: cool cobalt, sophisticated chartreuse, deep sea coral, purple passion, shamrock green, tiffany blue and poppy pink. Juice up your look in tangy tangerine (the color of the season), lemon yellow, orange crush, cherry red, lime green, groovy grape and watermelon red. This is a lot of color.

Truth is, not everyone feels confident in head-to-toe neon. Don't try too much too soon. If being mistaken for a highlighter in bright yellow jeans is of concern, there are subtle ways to incorporate the trend without looking like Big Bird. Color your world with one neon bright as the primary color and add pops of other color. Nearly everyone looks radiant and hip in hot pink. Barbie's favorite shade is fashion's secret fountain of youth.

But there are a few potential style risks associated with such intense, fluorescent color. To be or not to be a piñata? It is all in the execution. Just don't pair neon brights with an extreme fake tan. And no neon lipstick -- it's too hard to pull off. Wear red or pink pouts for spring.

Accessories up the ante. Arm candy in vivid colors projects panache and polish. Start with a single color. Embrace your inner Popsicle and test the waters with splashes of neon bright nail polish and jewelry. Jelly bean-inspired colors in handbags add a burst of energy. Step out with Roy G. Biv in a rainbow confection of attention-drawing whimsy for the feet.

Crank up the color in art deco graphics of black and white. Love, love, love black and white with a snap of neon bright. Supersonic brightness adds ultra-punchy color -- street chic at its finest.

Pairing bold colors with white, black or navy makes an easy style equation. That LBD (little black dress) screams for neon color on the feet.

Any neon bright paired with other neon brights takes the style equation to a much higher level, but is a hothouse of on-trend fashion.

In high-spirited color, saturated by the high beams, one doesn't have to be a girlie girl to rock this trend. Not the least bit bashful, if it is done right, the riveting results are cool, not cute. A pop of attention-grabbing sass, neon brights are the perfect way to make your contemporaries neon green with envy.

Forget what you thought you knew about mixing hues. Go Kardashian in color. Wave glow sticks and color outside the border.

No tiptoeing through this bold, dazzling combination of power-packed neon brights. If the center of attention is not the goal, you'd better skip this trend of smashin' fashion.

Tommie Sue Roberts writes on fashion for the Sunday Gazette-Mail. She may be emailed at


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