Spend vs. Save: The High/Low on Three Spring and Summer 2012 Trends

Fashion trends come and go, often before we have time to blink. When you and I are heading out to shop for spring and summer fashion, couture houses are already releasing their fall collections. Sometimes it seems like the minute we shell out for that trendy "splurge" item, it's already become passé.

One solid rule of thumb is to make wardrobe essentials your investment pieces, and spend less on the trendy pieces that will be out of fashion before you get to the mall parking lot. [See our lists of 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Women and 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Men.] That said, the occasional splurge can be a lot of fun (as long as you can afford it!), and what's more fun than buying a piece of totally unnecessary, possibly ill-advised clothing?

To save you some time, we have scoured the Interweb to help you interpret some of the hottest trends for spring and summer 2012. Take your pick of spend or save from our top three trend choices.

Colored Jeans

Colored jeans are very hot right now -- though it may be too hot to wear them soon, at least here in Houston. Then again, the air-conditioning situation in this city is about to turn frigid, so jeans may be one of the smartest purchases you can make right now while prices are (relatively) low.

Spend: Joe's Jeans

Joe's Jeans come in 55 colors that range from soft pastels to bright neons to rich jewel-tones. At $158 a pop, you might consider buying these in a more neutral color (like dirty olive or charcoal) to get more than a season's worth out of them.

Save: Michael Kors

Select colors of Kors's skinny jeans are on sale now for $79.50-$89.50. A great deal from the orange-est man on Project Runway.


Spend: Gucci Track Trouser

Fashionologie points specifically to these "track trousers" -- a combination track pant/tuxedo pant -- but athletic-inspired casual separates were hot on every spring runway (last fall). We have to admit, we love the Gucci side-band pant with the slit at the ankle, embellished by a deco metal button detail. $1,250 at Neiman Marcus.

Save: Heidi Klum for New Balance

HKNB is a line of athletic-inspired casual wear created by Heidi Klum (HK) in partnership with New Balance (NB). The line mixes in practical active wear (sports bras, jackets, workout pants) with more fashionable separate pieces like dresses and coats. We love the three-quarter-length jacket with rib panels in white/gray for just $150.

Sherbet Colors

Spend: Michael Kors Sheath

The fresh, bright colors of sherbet are everywhere for spring and summer -- all that summery goodness without the sugar or the cavities! Tangerine, mint green and sunny yellow are among the most popular. Tangerine and mint green are arguably the most prevalent shades of sherbet gracing the runways right now, and the colors can be found everywhere from tiptoes and fingertips to dresses and separates. This Michael Kors belted sheath dress comes in at $1,995, but the classic lines will keep this dress in your rotation long after tangerine is yesterday's news.

Save: Gap Summer Hues Collection

Gap to the rescue! Shop online to shop by color -- orange/pink, yellow, green or blue -- and get a whole wardrobe for what one $2,000 Michael Kors will cost you. This easy, sleeveless number in coral will only set you back $60; we would be hard-pressed to find a fresher look for the hot summer days ahead.

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Christina Uticone