Friday, March 09, 2001

After a fashion?

This spring, warm up to pastels, retro patterns, coated fabrics and basic black

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Like human butterflies, Greater Cincinnatians are eager to shed their heavy winter coats. This spring's fashions will give them plenty to flutter about.

        “I enjoy shopping for spring,” says Kristilynn Burnett of Mount Healthy. “I like to shop to see the newest and latest things.”

        The 23-year-old Colerain High School teacher and self-confessed member of the “fashion police” looks forward to the days of chinos and sleeveless shirts. “Spring sets the standard for what the year brings” in terms of fashion, she says.

[photo] Sleveless mock neck sweater, $118, and tye-dyed bias skirt, $128, by Sigrid Olsen.
        “After the kind of winter we've had, Cincinnatians are ready to wear nice clothing that's different from their winter duds,” says Lazarus spokeswoman Pam Freeman. “The colors of spring, like lime green, lilac and pink, are everywhere. Shoppers will notice some of the patterns are retro, not what your grandma wore,” but updated and blended with new fabrics.

        “This year's colors are very bright,” agrees Karen Koza of the New York-based Fashion Association. “Some shades are practically neon, like those popular in the 1980s.” Think orchid, citron, mauve, chartreuse, indigo and terra-cotta orange.

        Another color trend is black. The always-in-style hue will be hot this season, as a contrast for the bright spring colors or alone as a slimming dramatic statement in a variety of fabrics.

        Speaking of fabrics, coated fabrics, like denim and cotton-linen blends which look stiff but wear soft and sassy, are must-haves, experts say.

        Coated denim is particularly fun; it's popping up as shirts and skirts, jackets and slacks, dresses and halters. The flashy shine gives it entry into business casual or dressier settings with equal style and statement.

        Fabrics woven with Spandex remain popular, but are stretching to include men's dress shirts, too.

[photo] Fly front shirt ($110), cropped pants ($78) and knit top ($28) from Harve Benard.
        “My husband resisted wearing them,” says Ms. Koza, “until I pointed out that the shirts (with Spandex) stay fresh and wrinkle-free all day. They fit like regular shirts, too, which he likes.”

Some leftovers

        Spring looks that are holdovers from the fall trends include patterns, especially mock animal and '60s' psychedelic prints.

        Jeans continue to be strong, although the hot item for the teen set are hip huggers, worn lower and lower on the hips.

        One surprising holdover is leather, traditionally used only in colder months. It's not just for coats anymore.

        “I've seen leather do very well in warm weather,” Ms. Koza says. “People are wearing leather jackets in the office and in evening wear outfits.”

        For example, fashion catalog Newport News shows a complete line of warm-weather leather pieces, including a daring spaghetti-strap jumpsuit.

Time to look feminine


[photo] Purple pattern tube dress with removable straps ($79) from INC.
        “Another nice thing about this spring is that the feminine look is back,” Ms. Koza says. “You'll see a lot of frills, more dresses, softer lines.” Florals, too, are always big for spring.

        And blouses are returning. Watch for silks and cottons that tie at the neck or waist.

        For accessories, the power look has returned. Status-label handbags are standard, pearls are reappearing and gold makes a statement. Scarves are out of the drawer again — all sizes and shapes, worn to complete the total look.

        “Consumers are dictating what's in fashion now,” Ms. Koza says. “It's a matter of personal preference. You can point to any decade and find something that's in fashion now because people are more comfortable in their own fashion sense, their personal style.”

Advice for men

        What can the guys do to update their look for spring? Here are some tips from Pam Freeman of Lazarus:

        • “Brightly striped ties are a key item. Not boring like the old standbys, these are designed on a horizontal angle and have fun colors mixed in. Dress shirts for spring reflect pastel colors, and the ties can pick up and enhance those colors.”

        • Look for the the return of the polo shirt. “They now have updated colors and stripes and they feel softer than they used to. The new fabric blends give them a softer look and make a shirt that's easier to wear.”

        • Other spring looks for men include dark and midtone stonewash rinsed jeans, madras print shorts, seersucker sport shirts, suit separates in navy, tan and olive (to contrast the brighter-colored shirts) and flat-front khakis.

Coats keep fashions

        Although coats are standard equipment when cold weather sets in, lightweight versions may be needed to bridge between winter chill and summer heat.

        Coats no longer are just protection from the elements. Coats have become a crucial fashion accessory, a complement to the outfit beneath. Because of their new status, there's a need to create a wardrobe of coats to match each season's range of fashion.

        “This year's coats for spring have classic styling,” says Matty Goldklang, vice president of coat operations at Harve Benard Ltd., based in New York. “We've updated traditional coat (styles), like pea, trench and swing coats, to look like nothing in your closet.”

        Swing coats, he added, are extremely popular because they have a feminine cut and they cover everyone well.

        “As far as colors go, red is very popular and looks fabulous,” Mr. Goldklang says. “Our coated coats especially serve as a great all-weather coat. Plus the fabric stands up well for travel.”

        An addition to men's coat choices is the three-quarter length.

        “Most men's coats currently are full length, but that's changing,” Mr. Goldklang says. “Men are becoming more interested in fashion and want something more versatile to go with a more casual lifestyle. This new length gives them that freedom.”

— Shauna Scott Rhone

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