Shop Class: Brits invade this year’s spring collections

Find inspiration for your spring wardrobe in the old English countryside with equestrian-style boots, hats and trench coats.

Take a few fashion tips from America’s mum. This spring, stores are packed with Sgt. Pepper jackets and English garden party florals. Sure their choices of food may be questionable — bacon buttie or spotted dick — but those Brits sure have style.

Since I have started my spring shopping, I have noticed a theme in a lot of shops and fashion publications. Iconic pieces like Sgt. Pepper military jackets and classic English countryside fashions are everywhere. Also, let’s not forget those colorful trench coats and galoshes to get through the rainy season. These England-inspired fashion pieces are April must-haves.

Sure, floral patterns are a common trend each spring, but this time around, they are echoing a more soft and classy feel, reminiscent of weddings and afternoon garden parties.

Charlotte Ronson’s Spring 2009 line was dominated by pastel, floral chiffon dresses. For a more student-friendly buy, Forever 21 has a few spring party dresses that are just as worthy of an elegant country wedding. Popular Macy’s brands such as Guess and Rampage are focusing heavily on soft floral prints, too.

They may make you feel like you are wearing a space ship rather than a hat, but floppy hats are fun and springy. If you are daring enough to sport a fun floppy-brimmed hat, channel Andie MacDowell a la Four Weddings and a Funeral, and pair it with a fabulous new dress and ivory peep-toe pumps.

It is still a bit too chilly to traipse around the city in only a few yards of chiffon, but that is what the World War II- and Sgt. Pepper-inspired military jackets are for. H&M carries a nice double-breasted style in lightweight black wool with large antique brass buttons. Along with providing extra warmth for the dreary April weather, they can toughen up even the girliest frocks.

Try a bright colored trench coat. Check out Old Navy for a basic twill style in khaki and black. For something more innovative and colorful, look for BCBG Max Azria’s Clementine orange ruffle trench.

Equestrian-inspired boots and Victorian lace up riding boots were fall must-haves last year, but do not chuck them into the back of your closet just yet. These English countryside-inspired trends make it easy to get extra mileage out of those scuffed leather beauties. Now that they are beat up and worn, passers-by will believe you are an avid foxhunter. Plus, fall and winter boots are on sale everywhere, and many styles are still in season. Aldo has various equestrian styles on sale for up to 70 percent off. Dolce Vita Equestrian boots in green and light brown are also still available at Urban Outfitters.

If riding boots are not your thing, I have good news. Rainy April is Wellington boot season. Get inspired by the muddy green English countryside, and keep your feet dry, too. Urban Outfitters’ online store has a great pair of chocolate Wellingtons for only $28.

I wear my rubber rain boots over tights with a light floral dress along with a chunky knit sweater to brighten up those dreary April days. Wearing floral and lace blouses under a military jacket with skinny jeans is another quick and casual way to try out these trends. I like to tuck dark-washed jeans into my riding boots and accessorize the look with an antique locket or painted porcelain jewelry.

Nicole Saylor can be reached at

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