BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- A mild cold season across the United States means a subtle transition from winter to spring fashion. Much of Spring 2012 style was dictated on the runways from Milan to New York last summer, with many designers again opting for outlandish themes -- from Roman gladiators to dandies and Brit rock stars -- that required a bit of visual digestion before emerging as the looks of the season.

Suits are loud and proud going into spring, with stripes, tartans and check patterns being all the rage. Frida Giannini did it for Gucci through a series of dapper standouts such as the Marseilles 70s suit that melds a greyish black fulham check pattern on a jacket with wider notch lapel and five-button cuff. Sarah Burton mixes the trend for a layered look at Alexander McQueen, channeling a runway show of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger inspiration through a collection that included a number of layered looks, including casual striped V necks, mix-and-match striped suits and three-button deconstructed jackets that can fasten all the way up the collar.
Color trends for spring can include muted, creamy pastels and beiges such as in H&M's simple shirt and trouser separates.

The most noticeable trend of the spring season for most men will be how ridiculous most of their suits now appear when juxtaposed to the stouter, shorter jackets that have made their way from top to bottom of the fashion food chain. From Marc Jacobs to Banana Republic, jackets are no longer the customary "end of the fingertip" length worn by men in years past. These days, jackets often lay at wrist length or even shorter in the various suited incarnations that graced the stages of fashion houses such as Lanvin, where several suits included waist-length jackets with double-breasted detail, and at Prada with its selection of sportier patterned blazers.

Skinny pants, aka male pantyhose, get a slight reprieve for the season, with many designers opting for more generous legs that swing back toward traditional cuts. More leeway is given for pleats, preferably single, and even cuffs that should be chunky if at all. Bolder fashion types can go for a shorter hem on pants, with more and more men feeling comfortable showing a bit of ankle during summer. Short pants also persist in suits that push the leggy trend into another year -- but likely a trend you'll see more in Soho than Sacramento. More popular is the ever-dropping crotch that began at Rick Owens and has since enveloped the fashion world in various translations (but never so slouchy as to recreate the '80s rapper pant).

Tailoring and artisanship took center stage at several shows, including Burberry Prorsum, where beyond the bold woven hats that looked like a chauffeur's cap and beret mated on the catwalk, exquisite embroidery prevailed with embellished cotton shirts under chunky ribbed-knit cardigans as well as knit sweaters with hand-crocheted detail. Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey upgraded simple T-shirts with geometric details of Aztecan genius while keeping seasonal linen blazers and elegant outerwear kept simple with his signature slim fit.

Color trends for the season include muted desertscapes of creamy pastels and beiges that mix Palm Springs with a whisper of Doha. H&M does it with simple shirt and trouser separates, while Etro does it with a herringbone suit and bold patterned shirt with generously cut outerwear jackets with exaggerated silhouettes tamed by the monochromatic use of subtle desert tones. Blue denim was also a theme, from McQueen to Prada, who each did suits and separates in a variation of the color. Also resurgent was color blocking, the trend in which two bold colors are coordinated in a single look such as at Paul Smith, who opted for dark silhouettes below the waist and more colorful and bright shades above.

Shoes seemed to tame even the most wild of designer creations in a Mad Men tribute of more chunky loafers and wing tips. Only accents of color and quirk make them stand out from the traditional. Warmer weather will bring in another front of dressy leather sandals, with detailing a step and strap above any Havaianas but still strictly for weekend wear. For anyone in doubt, opt for a conservative shoe with a burst of color, whether it's a hand-sewn geometric detail or bold striping around the base of an otherwise classic pair of loafers to glide you through the spring season.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.