For Beauty and Fashion Week here at CharleneChronicles, we have talked about beauty. Specifically, skin care and makeup routines. Now let’s talk fashion. What are the trends for spring? And how can we fit it into our wardrobe without breaking the bank?

I am a huge fan of Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, even since I was a kid. However, let’s just say that in high school, in the 80s, that was not the place to be seen. Fast forward 20+ years, and it is the place to get luxe labels, trendy tees, designer denim, hot handbags, sweet shoes and more. However, most people (I admit, even me a tiny bit) wondered if those tees, labels, denim and shoes may have been past season. As a result, I was invited to their spring launch where media and bloggers got to see some of the spring fashion trends, talk to representatives from Marshalls and TJMaxx, as well as nosh on some nibbles (bonus!).


I spent over an hour chatting with some great representatives from both Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. In the various conversations, many myths I had about these two companies were dispelled. Here are some of the insights I learned:

1. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx don’t carry the same merchandise. No two stores are ever the same — not even two T.J. Maxx stores. That’s what makes off-price shopping so much fun, and why so many customers shop both stores.

2. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx aren’t discount stores. They are off-price retailers who use their buying power to get great value on brand-name merchandise and pass those savings on to us. Less than five percent of the merchandise has unnoticeable irregularities and if irregular, it is clearly noted on the price tag.

3. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx is in-trend and in-season. They have their own company distribution centers so they can move merchandise through to the stores super fast. That way, they offer a continual flow of fresh merchandise; each store receives three to four shipments weekly, totaling more than 10,000 new items each week! So it is just a myth that the current Marshalls and T.J. Maxx just has leftover merchandise that department stores don’t want. Less than 15 percent of merchandise is non-trend driven or past season, and these items are clearly marked as “past-season” on the price tag.

4. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx also has merchandise that isn’t in department or specialty stores. That’s because off-price buyers travel the world to offer “treasures”, including gorgeous leather footwear from Italy; luxurious soaps from France; and fine crystal from Germany.


After I got the insight into the companies, it was time to talk fashion. I admit I am not a fashion guru by a long shot, so it was great to get the experts to share the latest looks. So, now that we all have an idea of wear to shop on a budget, let’s get fashionable. This is what you need to remember when hitting the stores this spring and summer: natural, nautical, floral, tribal and colorful. Easy to remember, right?


Au Natural

Utility shirts and non-denim bottoms like chinos, cargo shorts and pants, and convertible pants

Tan, beige, green and grey trench coats in a variety of materials and cuts

Pocket details and roll tabs on tops and bottoms

Brightly colored accessories like necklaces and belts

Subtle animal prints and large, saturated floral patterns

Sky-high wedges with strap embellishments



Great American Sportswear

Polished separates like casually-tailored jackets and seersucker skirts

Nautical and novelty stripes on tops and bottoms

Linen suits and dresses

Skirts of all kinds: long pencil, A-line or flirty and swingy

Denim trousers and blazers

Pumps in suede and leather, and boat shoes in all colors



Feminine and Floral

Watercolor floral prints in rich jewel tones or softer cosmetic shades

Layered knit cardigans in a variety of styles: shrugs, cascades, tissue, or drape.

Tiered tops and skirts in silky, flowing fabrics

Dresses, shirts and blouses with lace, ruffles, embroidery, eyelet and crochet accents

Necklaces with bows and matte sequins and handbags with botanical prints

Strappy neutral or metallic sandals with soft rosettes



White with Black and Color

The “little white dress,” a seasonal update to the classic little black dress

White pants or capris paired with colorful tunics

White or black tailored jackets over primary colored knit tops

Black and white patterned dresses and high-waisted skirts

Pearl accents in jewelry and footwear




Tribal Inspiration

All-over prints on everything from tops and tunics to handbags and bracelets

Loose-fitting dresses and tops cinched with leather belts

Peasant blouses with artisan touches like beading and embroidery

Different patterns on tops and bottoms for a wild, mismatched look

Uneven or fringed hemlines on skirts and dresses

Gladiator sandals with stones and animal print accents



Color Infusion

Crisp sportswear like blazers and button-downs in rich jewel tones

Tops and bottoms in different shades with a solid or multicolored belt

Contrasting trims around necklines and sleeves

Asymmetrical, brightly-colored skirts, dresses and tops to add interest to simple garments

Bold-hued fabrics with beautiful draping and sheen like silk and satin

Espadrilles or strappy leather heels in neutrals


The segments above are inspiring, but what pieces should you be on the lookout to spice up your spring/summer wardrobe? Here is the low-down on what you should have in your closet this spring and summer for all of the Mommy life-adventures.


A Dress – Dresses continue to be popular, especially for the spring and summer temperatures.

Date Night: A little white dress with laser cut or lace accents paired with either bright or black accessories.

Playgroup: A solid colored maxi dress cinched at the waist with a color blocked belt in bright colors like teal and purple.

Working-Mom: A crochet dress in a saturated spice color, accessorized with tribal printed bangles and a leather and crochet clutch.


Versatile Tops – From tank tops to tunics, you can find one to fit the Mommy lifestyle, even if you are currently breastfeeding or chasing after a toddler (think bending over to pick the sippy cup off the floor and trying not to show the boobies).

Date Night: Silk tops with cut-outs, one shoulder and asymmetrical hemlines add interest to flowing pants in neutral hues.

Playgroup: A military-inspired shirt or vest with pocket detail and roll tabs paired with a feminine skirt or shorts.

Working-Mom:  Knit tops in blush tones with ruffle and lace detail.


Wide-Leg Denim – After so many seasons of the skinny fit, wide-leg denim is making a comeback. (My post-baby thighs and hips are so grateful for this fashion change!)

Date Night: Palazzo pants and tribal-printed halter top with strappy heels and lots of jewelry.

Playgroup: A pair of flared denim with a printed tee, belted military-style anorak and ‘flatform’ shoes – platforms without the wedge incline.

Working-Mom: Denim trousers with a cropped white sailor jacket and red wedge heels. Or a higher-waisted pair of jeans, striped top and a tucked-in oxford. Accessorize with a skinny belt and open-toe heels.


Long Full Skirt – Longer skirts are the newest must-have hemline. You can look stylish even sitting on the floor in playgroup.

Date Night: Figure-flattering pencil skirts at just below, or just above the knee look fabulous belted with a feminine floral top.

Playgroup: African-influenced patterns, clashing stripes and paintbrush strokes on mid-length and maxi skirts can be mixed with unexpected patterns on top.

Working-Mom: A nude/beige pleated skirt that falls just below the knees with sheer layers on top and lace and ruffle details.


Updated Accessories – From neon to bright white to stripes and prints galore, here are some of the must-have accessories to amp up the neutral palette and balance out the wilder print combinations of the season, no matter where you are going: 1. Stacks of big and bold bangles in combinations of different materials like wood, metal and plastic in bright colors or animal prints. 2. Tribal earrings, necklaces with beading and belts with geometric closures add an exotic influence. 3. 70s-inspired sunglasses, from aviators to oversize lenses, are hot in both bright colors and tortoise shell frames. 4. Handbags in leather or vinyl with laser cuts come in printed or solid fabric, nylon and straw materials. Structured styles complement the popular geometric shapes on clothing. 5. Shoes with details like bows or flowers. 6. Gladiator inspired shoes are still hot as well. 7. Light scarfs and hats are also a fashionable spring and summer accessory.

Congrats to Beth! Stay tuned for more fun giveaways everyone!


So it is time to get shopping. To help you out, I am giving away a $25 gift card to Marshalls/T.J. Maxx, plus two surprise accessories to spice up your look. To enter, just leave a comment below about your favorite fashion trend.

Rules: (Gotta have them)

Leave a comment about this post. One comment permitted per person; US entrants welcome. Include your name and email in the appropriate fields so I can contact you if you win.* (Including just first name or first name + last initial is OK!). Anonymous or SPAM-like comments will be discarded. Entry period closes at 11:59PM EST, Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

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*One lucky winner (drawn randomly via will receive the $25 gift card and two accessories. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail, then listed back at this post using first name only.


Disclosure: I received a $25 gift card myself for attending the media event. Can’t wait to go shopping myself!

Image Credits: Marshalls and T.J. Maxx


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  1. Love both stores. Would love some new tops since I’m headed back to a 40-hour week.

  2. I am also a huge fan of the wide leg denim, and this style for most pants that I wear whether it is going out with friends or also work pants. I am a huge fan of layering with tops so you can have one top that you wear to work and throw either a sweater or jacket over it for work and then can take that top layer off before heading out for the night.
    Not a big fan of large earrings these days but I do feel that necklaces can really stand out and add something to an outfit. I have loved reading each of your posts each day and even though I am not a stay at home mom I work from home and when I have to go to a client I often feel it is a challenge of what to wear and flipping through all the clothes in my closet…

  3. Jackie D. says:

    I get the most wear out of my versatile tops. Short-sleeve or sleeveless, versatile tops can go from spring to summer to fall with a little bit of layering. Pair them with a lengthy cardigan and cute leggings and you’ve got plenty of all-season outfits!

  4. I’m a Marshalls/TJMaxx addict! They are my nirvana!

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