Soft fabrics, gentle drape will have the fashion followers clinging to the future

February 18, 1993|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Staff Writer

Retailers and buyers are fashion's toughest critics. They delight in change, because change brings new interest, but not at the expense of their customers' needs. They sell to real, working women, a world apart from the showiness of runways and magazine layouts.

Here's how they've interpreted this spring's radical changes for their customers. While they've picked up on some of the major trends, such as bell-bottoms and layers, they haven't abandoned the wardrobe basics.

Jane Simpson, general manager at Octavia in Cross Keys.

"Yes we do have bell-bottoms, in denim, by A-Line Anne Klein. rTC Yes, were going softer, but there are still many options to everything. Short skirts are still all over the place, and that's a reflection of the real marketplace. We have them in the 22- and 25-inch lengths and all the way to the ankle, so hemlines are not an issue.

"The softer trousers are big news -- everything from a silky, tapered silhouette to a full, straight leg.

"I suggest that women bring last year's clothes shopping with them, so they can try them with the new until they are comfortable with the proportions.

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Heather Femia, fashion director for Nordstrom stores.

"My favorite theme in our next fashion show is 'Blithe Spirit,' which features poet blouses and silky peasant looks from the '20s and '30s. They feel completely fresh and appealing.

"Another fresh note for spring is the platform in a modified career shoe or extravagantly fun for summer wear. They look especially new with a wider pant or hemline."

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Hilda Levin, sportswear buyer for Miller Brothers at Towson Town Center.

"I didn't buy strong into the real suity look. Instead we have lots of silk tops in a tunic length. But even the stronger jackets have an easy look -- a narrow, more rounded shoulder and a hint of shape.

"I did buy sheer, black floating pants and they look wonderfully feminine and sexy under a long, narrow four-button jacket. The length has to cover the fanny.

"This season women are still very careful about what they're buying, but they are buying, things they have never had. Our bell-bottom jeans sold out right away."

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Nancy Sachs, fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue at Owings Mills.

"They say that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The extreme hippie looks and totally transparent clothes have no place today, but there are ways to introduce them.

"Suits are still a mainstay. Women can even wear last year's navy suit if they soften it with a chiffon blouse in a wheat color. A stiff white shirt is too cold.

"I love clothes and invest good money in them, and I have no intention of tossing them all. The way to update is to rejuvenate with new elements -- soft blouses in creamy colors, beads or long necklaces with a crafty look."

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Sally Jones, owner of Jones & Jones at the Village of Cross Keys.

"Forget grunge, forget hippies. I like soft, easy pants and clean-lined tops.

"People will wear what they want, and if they really want to go Bohemian they can tie one of the beaded, fringed scarves we carry around their hips. Or they could do the same with an old one."

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Ruth Shaw, owner of Ruth Shaw in Cross Keys.

"The trade papers have reported that the jacket is dead. Nonsense.

I'm finding people are looking for a treat and don't really want basics unless it's a wonderful, great jacket.

"The elongated vest worn alone over soft pants is very becoming to women who have marvelous bodies and skin tone, but most women will have to layer a soft blouse beneath for a finished look.

"I also love the soft, '30s dresses in small floral prints. Totally charming and instantly aging. A mature women who wants the softness of these patterns should keep the pattern in the skirt and away from the face.

"Also aging are long skirts with soft unpressed pleats. If a woman wants long, it should be fitted at the hip and worn with a small top.

"Soft is important, but not that flower-child look. If I close my eyes, maybe it will go away."

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