Buyers are on the hunt for lively color combinations, particularly the patriotic blend of red, white and blue. Preppy, nautical and feminine themes are also the most sought-after looks by retailers for next season.

The retailers WWD spoke with predict that minis will be strong, as well as cropped pants with printed patterns. Feminine-looking dresses, often strapless and with playful patterns, are also expected to perform well.

Denim die-hards will be pleased to learn that jeans — particularly faded and distressed looks, with a low rise — are also at the top of buyers’ shopping lists.

On the accessories front, retailers are looking for scarves, long earrings, cross necklaces, costume jewelry and belts.

Freda Greenbaum, co-owner

A Nose for Clothes, nine locations in Florida and Georgia

“I’m seeing a lot of French nautical or Riviera influence, which can be applied to Americana themes. The red, white and blue palette, khaki and red or navy and red really started with the sophisticated, French patriotism movement. It involves striping and colors that relate to denim, another important category. I’ll look for novelty denim again.

“I love the lace trend, too. For holiday, it came in black; for resort, it’s white. Moving forward, I see ivory and neutral laces. The most essential piece is about a feminine design, rather than just a layering piece.

“We used to sell more pants, but now I’m seeing a tremendous amount of interest in the short skirt business. If we write a print in a cropped pant this market, we’ll also offer it in a skirt. I’m going to do some midcalf or ankle lengths, too, in urban prairie styles. They look new and exciting, especially with a cognac, tobacco or caramel-colored, hip-slung belt. “We always have difficulty finding dresses, but I’ve found some great vendors recently. Dresses are feminine with lace, flowy styles, gauze and ruffles. It’s no longer about structured, body-fitted, cami dresses. The new look is less tight, soft and sexy. It’s not as hard to wear, either.

“Black-and-white stories are the winner for color. Every design house we looked at in October included at least one group. But we’re also doing true color and brights in floral prints. I’m happy to see a return to earthtones, too, which have been absent from the market for two years.

“Belts are my number-one accessory. Hip-slung in black or brown, and chain or metal belts are important. One of my best resources is Toronto designer Suzi Roher. She does great conversation pieces in sashes or wraps that can be worn with dresses or denim.”

Christy Ordyna, assistant buyer and manager

The Bilthouse, Atlanta

“Color is still big. We carry brights through fall. Lime green isn’t going away. Black and white stories, along with red and white or navy and white, are strong, too. We bought the whole nautical craze from many lines.

“I’ve noticed blouses are coming back, especially in white with a twist, such as gypsy styles, lace up the front or ruffles. Printed tops are important, too, because everyone already has printed bottoms in her closet. Glima’s blow out of the store. Beyond T-shirts, I’m also talking about tops from Womyn and Tessuto, which is known for its printed dresses.

“We’ll move forward with cropped pants since so many of our customers are short. But they need to have some novelty like slits, bells or bows on the back. We’ll still do full-length, too.

“In T-shirts, Project E is blowing out, but we also like to pick up new ones that look young and fresh. For example, Riley makes patchwork tops, sweatpants with denim pockets and denim jackets with fabric sleeves.

“Dresses are coming back in. We wrote Trina Turk and Tessuto. Styles are very feminine, with spaghetti straps, ruffle hems and wraps. We did Lacoste dresses and polo shirts, too. Robin Jordan has been great for printed, cotton dresses in strapless and spaghetti strap styles. She does fruit, toile and black and white prints.

“For accessories, we carry Blue Dragon thong sandals, Mystique slides, Lulu Guinness bags and Sunny Hawaii straw totes. We don’t really do hats. Rhinestones and crosses have been selling. Customers are asking for longer earrings. Eighties costume jewelry, dressier styles, big flowers and printed chiffon scarves are big. We also write Karma Fashions, a local designer, for gypsy necklaces, hoops and beads.”

Kim Der Garabedian, co-owner

Olive, East Atlanta, Ga.

“In color, we like muted neutrals, pinks and blues. Even though the black and white thing is big, I’m not into it personally. It’s always been around.

“Currently, we have Seven, Allen B. and Joe’s Jeans for denim. We like low-rise, distressed, faded and novelty stitching inspired from the Seventies. Faded is the most important to us.

“Beautiful dresses, from Gatsby-inspired with a modern twist to updated, Renaissance styles will be important for summer.

“We hope to find beautiful tops like those we found in silk organdy with contrast stitching. They’re very wispy and feminine and can be worked back to jeans for a more streetwear look or clean pants for a tailored look. We also need one-shoulder styles.

“Belts are really big. Western looks are in now, but I see it going more toward the double-ring style in colorful leathers.”

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