Stay in style and spend less

Megan Roberson shows a customer a coral color top. She says that coral colors will be hot this spring.

A warm April and a burst of brightly colored spring fashions are the perfect incentives for shoppers looking to update their wardrobes.

Sadly, most of us don't have celebrity-size bank accounts to accompany our star-worthy fashion sense. But that doesn't mean we have to miss out on the latest trends.

Ranging from colorful boat shoes to super skinny jeans, this season's trends are already obvious. And that makes it easier to get good deals. When everyone is selling the same looks, there's more competition which can lower prices.

“You don't want to invest in trends — ever — because they change constantly,” says Megan Roberson, lead client consultant for Mackenzie Image Consulting, a Charleston-based full-service image consulting firm.

“Don't go out and buy a pair of $200 coral skinny jeans that you can get at Target for $20.”

If you know the style and brand you want, price-comparison apps such as eBay's RedLaser can make finding the best deal easier.

“The clearer the fashions, the easier to find a bargain,” says Amanda Hallay, assistant clinical professor at fashion college LIM, based in Manhattan, N.Y.

But Roberson warns not to buy anything on sale that you wouldn't buy full-price.

“Otherwise it's going to sit in your closet and take up space and not do you any good.”

She suggests websites such as shopittome.com, which allows users to choose their favorite brands and receive an email when those brands go on sale at a variety of stores. Roberson also says not to be afraid to order online.

“Order clothes, try them on,” she says. “If they don't work, you can send them back. It's that easy.”

And if you're not wedded to any label, sites such as shefinds.com offer guides to sales and online coupon codes, along with blogs and photos of what celebrities are wearing, says Dan Grandpre, editor-in-chief of deal aggregator dealnews.com. Make sure you follow their favorite stores' Twitter feeds and Facebook pages to get special discounts.

Chasing trends can easily get expensive. Fight that by investing in styles that you will still find appealing even when they're no longer trendy.

“You have to prioritize. If you are going to spend on shoes, you can cheap out on accessories,” says Jodi Furman, author of the blog livefabuless.com, which offers tips on smart spending.

If you want unusual styles, try fab.com, which focuses on daily flash sales of unique designs, including accessories that can be as low as $25, Grandpre says.

“This is a very democratic season,” Hallay says. “Everyone can find something that fits in their own budget.”

Pastels. Embracing this trend requires the purchase of one versatile piece such as a blazer or pencil skirt to be paired with other basics already available in your wardrobe, says Kendal Perez, a fashion expert. Channel your inner Chanel and pair pastel pink with black accessories, or keep it light with nude accents.

Sporty. Active wear and sports-inspired looks are definitely in. That means you can enjoy your off-the-shoulder fleece for at least one more season, and incorporate your gym go-tos into everyday outfits.

Color blocking. This is one of the easier trends to embrace and offers an opportunity to incorporate other trends. For example, you can pair bright denim pants with a neon shirt or blouse to easily achieve the look. Bisect the top from the bottom with a neutral belt, hink black, navy or white, and accessorize with equally neutral jewelry, Perez says.

Metallic. Depending on your workplace environment, you might pull off metallic pants with a white blouse and black blazer. Alternatively, embrace the trend with footwear and find shiny heels for work and metallic, strappy espadrilles for weekends.

Bold prints. As if neon and color-blocking weren't bold enough this season, runways everywhere featured bold prints with nods to art deco and the great outdoors, Perez says. Opt for one or two pieces that you can pair with basics from your closet.

Anne D'Inncenzio, AP retail writer, contributed to this report.