In my favorite scene from the hilarious movie “Miss Congeniality,” Miss United States pageant host Stan asks sweetly dim contestant Cheryl to describe the perfect date. He’s expecting an answer about picnics or long walks on the beach, but that’s not what he gets.

“I’d have to say April 25,” a smiling Cheryl answers sincerely. “Because it’s not too hot, not too cold. All you need is a light jacket!”

Wrong! Not only was our befuddled beauty queen confused about the question, but there is no perfect April date, weather-wise. At least not in Maryland. That’s because of the changing nature of our climate, and the state’s infamously fickle weather, which inspired a funny meme extending Maryland’s actual seasons to 12, including “Fool’s Spring,“ “The Pollening,” “Hell’s Front Porch” and “False Fall.”

“In Maryland, where the weather is notoriously unpredictable, you might experience cool mornings, warm afternoons, and chilly evenings, all in the span of a single day,” said wardrobe stylist Tonae Lee with Style Fanatic Stylings in Baltimore.

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I can attest to that. In the last week and a half, I found myself comfortable in that light jacket Cheryl suggested, shivering in the freezing rain in a leather jacket and then taking out the trash in shorts and a tank top. It’s madness.

“Right now is either ‘Fool’s Spring’ or ‘Spring of Deception,’” confirmed Afya Evans, image consultant, owner of The Afya Spot Executive Coaching and Style Studio and a former Maryland resident now in Atlanta. “You don’t know what to wear.”

But Evans and Lee do. They offered advice on navigating every iteration of spring as stylishly as possible, regardless of the deceptive weather.

  1. Layers are your friend: Back in the ’80s, I was fairly preppy and wore like five things on top of each other — a turtleneck, Oxford button down and maybe a sweater, all in pink because I thought I was Black Molly Ringwald. Our experts had similar advice, but in a less dated way. “In case the weather changes while you’re out, you want to be able to take things off, or vice versa,” Evans said.
  2. Or maybe layering’s not for you: While layering works as a general rule, Evans suggested thinking about whether that’s going to get annoying. “Some people don’t like having all that material on, period,” she said, reminding me of babies who rip sweaters off in restaurants. “If you’re not layered, perhaps choose a material that’s very light, like a light knit.” She also suggested lighter options like leggings and tapered pants, which are my personal favorites to pair with little suede booties.
  3. Don’t forget the footwear: Shoe choice is so hard at this time of year, because it’s not quite sandal weather, except for a few days when it absolutely is. No matter the temperature, it can still get wet, which is why Lee suggests “waterproof or water-resistant shoes, especially if rain is in the forecast. Comfortable shoes that can handle a variety of terrains are ideal for navigating your everyday diverse landscapes.”
  4. Do some research: “It’s kind of a ‘Duh,’ but you definitely want to find out what the weather is going to be,” Evans said. “A little bit of investigation can help you make better choices.” Going to an outdoor event? Find out if there are heat lamps. Indoor event? Inquire about the strength of the air conditioning and whether it will be sweltering or sweater weather, she said.
  5. Make like a Scout and be prepared: “Carry a small umbrella or a packable rain jacket just in case,” Lee suggested. She’s absolutely right, because those are two things you always remember you’ve left in your nice, dry car when you need them.

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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