With spring just around the corner, it’s time to welcome colour back into your wardrobe. As you prepare to pack away the trusty grey and black staples that saw you through the bleak winter months, get set to wave in September with stripes, colour and whimsical accessories.

Spring / summer 2011 collections seen on runways all over the globe have been awash with bright colours, patterns and, most noticeably, stripes. German fashion designer Jil Sander and fashion powerhouse Prada were the leading trend-setters with an array of striped summer dresses on show as part of their collections. In Milan, Versace employed thin stripes with bold colours, a trend that continued through fashion weeks in London, New York and Paris. Diane Von Furstenberg’s collection is big on bold stripes this season, with plenty of fabulous dresses and brighter, lighter knits.

With ’70s style making a huge comeback this season, there will be plenty of retro stripes on the market, especially on dresses, shirts and shorts. I predict this trend will trickle down to leggings and tights also. Most department stores are already stocking up on stripes, and as something that will never go out of style, it’s worth investing in a piece or two.

Stripes, either in bold colours or crisp nautical style, epitomise relaxed chic and can add character to an otherwise dull outfit. Pair a striped tee with denim cut-offs in summer, jeans in spring, play it up with a blazer, or play it down with a fedora, sunglasses and stacked-on fun jewellery. But no matter what Patricia Fields has Carrie Bradshaw traipsing all over Manhattan in, don’t clash striped items. In general, doubling up on patterned pieces usually ends in disaster.

The pieces will fight against each other, and your entire look will be lost. Stripes create a busy aesthetic, so less is more. And if you’re looking for a slimming affect, avoid horizontal stripes and opt for vertical as it creates the illusion of length rather than width.