In this article, I break down all the colors, styles and accessories that California college students will be wearing this Spring. 

As I write this, sporting my damp Birkenstocks, stained shorts and winter jacket just having escaped the pouring rain, I couldn’t think of a better person to report on 2023’s spring fashion trends. In all honesty, I used to hate fashion; I didn’t shop for myself until college. But since discovering Ross, I’d say I’ve become a bit of a fashion guru. 

Where my credentials fall short, I filled in with hours of research on what the spring, college and California trends are. It took some digging because I realized if you simply google “spring trends” you’ll see the most subjectively ridiculous outfits that college students probably won’t catch onto (or be able to afford) anytime soon. 

The following list isn’t revolutionary as several of Spring trends are ongoing, but they’re items you’ll want to wear and that you’ll look good wearing too! 


While this may seem obvious, seeing that it’s spring, pastels have been rising in popularity for months. These youthful, optimistic, and universally flattering colors first re-emerged in the art world (the genesis of many trends), before finding their way into furniture, makeup and clothing. On the men’s side, the white t-shirt staple can be replaced with pastels, paired with dark-washed jeans. On the women’s side, it’s an even better excuse to break out those Easter-colored dresses. 

What’s Coming Back

Nearly all trends come and go — and then come back. This spring, it continues to be all about the 90s and 2000s. While 90s style and oversized clothing have taken the world by storm these past few years, it will continue to spread onto more items such as blazers, hair bows, chunky jewelry, and bags. For the guys, oversized varsity jackets have come in style, and for the girls, boyfriend shirts, oversized denim jackets and jeans are perfect for the spring. 

Going along with this larger-than-life feel, the 80s style, obscure looking, bubble hems and bubble dresses are quickly being adopted by every clothing company. Though controversial, there’s no doubt you’ll stand out from the crowd showing off this look. 

Although many love the comfort of oversized apparel and high-waisted pants, the Y2K embellished low-rise jeans are making a comeback. Another less-than-comfortable but trendy look is the stiff denim skirt paired with patterned leggings. Additionally, an enemy to my short legs, jorts are continuing to resurge. 

If that’s not appealing to you, then maybe you’ll like the continuous Y2K preppy clothing trend defined by rugby shirts and polo shirts with khaki pants, and tennis/miniskirts with cardigan sweaters and a mini handbag. This look brings back all of the Y2K feels. 

For accessories, the 70s and 90s chunky sandal clogs are key. If those aren’t cute enough for you, then slip into a pair of uggs with your yoga pants as these will be reappearing as well. 

If you want to take it way back, bomber jackets, a relative to the 50s CWU jacket, are perfect for any season. But beware, just because an item is vintage, doesn’t make it “in style.” Unless you want to really stand out, classic items such as jelly sandals, bandana tops, and sweater vests aren’t in again

The Cores to Add to Your Spring Wardrobe 

Since the term came to be in 2018, cottagecore, also known as countrycore and farmcore, still has a strong following, and thank goodness because I cannot get enough of the romanticized rural, victorian lifestyle items defined by puffed sleeve cotton dresses, gentle sweetheart necklines, pearl necklaces, and pastel flowers. The lightweight fabrics and fairy-tale colors make it perfect for a warm spring day. 

A painting I own that captures the Cottagecore lifestyle: 

Photo courtesy of Morgan Faranov

While cottagecore was inspired by books such as “Anne of Green Gables,” “Jane Eyre,” and “Little House on the Prairie,” cottagecore’s cousin, regencycore, was birthed out of “Bridgerton’s” popularity. 

Though similar, regencycore takes place slightly earlier in the 19th century and its emphasis is less on ruralness, but on royalty, including items such as elegant silks, ball gowns, corsets, gloves and even tiaras. This is a newer trend that you might want to get ahead of before it takes off!  

The Comfy, Active Lifestyle 

If babydoll dresses and princess attire are a little much for your liking, then athleisure is for you. Athleisure, which took off during Covid-19, includes clothing that is both comfortable and allows the wearer to exercise. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, bomber jackets, leggings, and joggers are all a part of the athleisure look. Though this has been in style for a while, baseball caps allow the wearer to really live into the spring 2023 trend. Finally, the athleisure style is versatile. You can dress up your sweats with a pair of heels, or urbanize it with a Patagonia jacket.  

More Specific Trends: Head to Toe

I had no idea they ever saw a decrease, but flip-flops are expected to reemerge this spring and summer. While a few years ago I was only supposed to wear these to the beach, since last spring, flip-flops have become a must-have for men and women. Like Birkenstocks (a former trend turned essential), flip flops can add a cool muse to any dress, jeans, chinos, etc. 

Other popular spring footwear includes ballet flats, cowboy boots (a perfect fit for California’s western culture), and crocs with jibbitz. 

For bottoms, breezy maxi skirts are perfect for a free-spirited, relaxed summery feel, and cargo pants, whether baggy or tight, have been listed in several fashion articles as a hot spring object. 

For tops, crochet is a growing obsession in clothing and swimwear. Other texture trends include combining leather and lace tops and outerwear, denim dresses, silk dresses, sheer sleeves, ruching and shirred tops. For guys, things are simpler. They can stick with their white and pastel t-shirts, and if they desire to go GQ, then they can remember to tuck those shirts in!

To add some uniqueness to your outfits, thrift a watch, and for the girls, it might be time to trade in your scrunchie (unless they’re silk). Though I will never give up my scrunchies, picking out vintage ribbons from a local craft or antique store to wrap in your hair is becoming more popular. Also up and coming are embellished headbands, bedazzled bobby pins, and lavish bows like what “Fancy Nancy” would wear. 

Why are trends important? 

Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally followed a trend. Trends are clicky, and they lead to fast fashion. However, it’s nice to be aware of what subconsciously influences your wardrobe. Perhaps this list will help you defend your crocs, or maybe you could use this knowledge to stand out and to rebel against the crowd. As long as you’re confident in your attire, really anything goes this spring.