She's stealing hearts and turning heads.
She's a quirky, new romantic who loves a look that's two parts attic chic and one part urban cowgirl. It starts with a '40s-inspired floral or minipattern printed dress -- a clingy rayon or cotton number with a waist-flattering bodice and simple schoolgirl collar or circle neck. Topping off the look is a head of wind-blown hair or a floppy hat with garden garnishes of blooms or berries.
It's also about having a comfortable, easy attitude. With her ample, gored or bias-cut skirt and her clodhopper cowboy boots, she can stand at a slouch and stomp with a wide stride and weighted gait. She's a pretty, smiling, funky eclectic who exudes a nearly nerdy kind of cool. Think of women like Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah and Demi Moore who are real-life converts.
In West Hollywood, the modern romantic is like a new Annie Hall. Every other twentysomething girl on Melrose Avenue seems to have picked up the look. There are hints it could become a real deal elsewhere. The trend is taking root at stores like Express and even the Gap.
Janice McCarty, Los Angeles boutique owner and vintage-style dress designer under a label that bears her name, describes the look as "very collectible and something you can make your own." Most people personalize their outfits by playing around with distinctive jewelry and accessories, different shoes, and over-dyed, layerable cotton pieces.
The flower suspender-clip is the accessory de rigueur. About three inches long, it clamps on horizontally to the front or back bodice of a dress or back of a jacket to accentuate and decorate the waist. Clipped-on vertically, it can hike up the side of a skirt. Chiffon scarves are another floaty favorite.
Silver necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings set with glass beads or stones can create a family heirloom feeling or even an ethnic mood. Wax-dipped small rosebud pins are great for hats and collar tabs.
Vintage cowboy boots add that element of off-beat chic and taps into the current western-wear wave. Cowboy shoe-boots and clunky platform sandals are other options and are worn offset with lace-trimmed, baby anklet socks.
Cotton, lace-edged capri leggings, little T-shirts, long-john tops, fully fashioned camisoles and undershirts over-dyed in romantic hues are meant to peek out from outer layers. Look for nostalgic shades of faded rose, dusty blue, murky green, peach, plum and navy.