"Feminine" is the best description for spring suits and...

March 20, 1991|By Gwen-Salley Schoen | Gwen-Salley Schoen,McClatchy News Service

"Feminine" is the best description for spring suits and dresses. There is no man-style tailoring here. Today's silhouettes are curvy, clipped and neat.

Remember Jackie Kennedy's suits of the '60s? They had jackets cropped to just below the waistline and buttoned to the chest; sleeves were three-quarter length; and skirts were slim and hemmed just to the knees. She always wore gloves, pearls and matching pumps. It was a complete package from head to toe. Well, the Jackie look is back for spring '91 suits.

Jackets come in two basic shapes: curved to follow body shape, or cropped and boxy. Lengths range from the bottom of the waist to the bottom of the hips. The skirt is always narrow, with a perky kick pleat in the back. Occasionally, pants replace the skirt. When that happens, the trousers are quite slim, often made of Lycra-blend fabrics, and they are shortened to the top of the ankles.

What updates these suits are the feminine details. Sometimes it's print and color, sometimes it's design elements such as rounded collars or oversize buttons.

Pink seems to dominate the color story, whether a soft petal pink or a brilliant geranium. Some suits are color-blocked in assorted pink tones with a sleeve in one shade and the body of the jacket in another, or slashed diagonally with two or more different shades for one jacket. Other suits are splashy pink florals on a white or black background, or peppermint and white stripes.

The most forward suits have no hint of menswear tailoring. Instead of sharp, pointed collars and notched lapels, collars are gently rolled and rounded at the edges. Often there is no collar at all, and jackets, worn without a blouse, are buttoned to the throat.

In past seasons, women resorted to softening and personalizing their suits with lots of scarf treatments. This season the scarf has been replaced with the pin a big, arty, conversational sculpture. Tuck a strand of pearls inside the jacket neckline, add a pair of gloves, a little pillbox or wide-brim hat, and you're all set for spring '91.

Mannish suits for women are banished

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