All the Trimmings This season's look, from head to toe, borrows the right finishing touches

IN STYLE

September 16, 1993|By Suzin Boddiford | Suzin Boddiford,Contributing Writer

In a season full of options, it's the details that lend a modern edge to fashion's many moods, from romantic overindulgences to chic austerity.

The right accessories, given the subtlest touches, can make or break a look and change the entire personality of a garment -- right down to the jaunty tilt of a newsboy cap for instant attitude.

Take, for example, a long knit dress: Throw on a lacey collar and cuffs, a cameo choker, textured tights, granny boots, top it off off with a velvet crusher hat, and suddenly you've kicked romance into a simple basic.

Now take that same dress in the other direction -- down to its barest essentials. Strip off all accessories except for an ultra-long chain dangling a geometric pendant, ground the look with a tonal opaque leg and a heeled satin bootee, and you've hit on the chic side of spare.

Altering the details makes the possibilities for individual interpretation endless.

Along with the onset of fashion's new fluid silhouette, so too must the trimmings go with the flow. Deconstructivism has melted down razor-edged tailoring to relaxed, languid lines that fall from a softer natural shoulder, the focal point of which thus revolves around the neck.

"Less emphasis is on the waist this season, with much more on the neckline," says Saks Fifth Avenue's regional fashion director, Chi Chi LaBrock, who sums up the key accessories with what she calls the five C's: crosses, cameos, chokers, collars and cuffs.

In jewelry, two extremes are prevalent: short chokers and extra long sweeping strands. "Chokers worn with ropes of long beads interspersed with garnets and jet look great for the holiday," says Rona Rosengarden of Treasure House in Pikesville.

But the dramatic bib necklace strikes the perfect balance between the two lengths, at its best in crystals, pearls, glass, garnet and jet. You can even update last season's '70s-inspired charmed chokers by layering multiple mixtures of stones in graduated strands, especially tasseled lariats, or medieval lavalieres and medallions.

"The most popular jewelry symbol of the season is the cross, in all shapes and forms -- from mosaic to Maltese, plain gold to jeweled," says Tricia Kenney, fashion editor of Accessories Magazine, a New York-based industry trade publication.

Designers like Donna Karan and Richard Tyler have used monastic shrouds as austere backdrops for crosses strung bandoleer-style across the body, or dangled them from the waist, in the style of a monk. Those who can't shake off the religious significance can go the medieval route for safekeeping, with lock-and-key motifs to spark the austerity.

"The average woman is going to want to lighten the look of head-to-toe black with anything that catches the light, like a long gold-chain pendant," says Tina Sutton, national spokeswoman for Hit Or Miss stores. For practical purposes, you may want to try doubling those long chains medallion-style to fill in a modest neckline.

Savvy shoppers should check out the vast selection of charms, starting at under a dollar and available at local bead stores like Beadworks or Beadazzled, where you can design your own neckpiece with more fun and for less money. Or pick up some velvet flowers at the fabric store and pin them on to a velvet choker, as well as a floppy hat, vintage handbag or even fabric shoes.

Because of all the attention to the neck, big important earrings are a fall casualty. It's time to push those shoulder dusters to the back of the jewelry box and settle for simpler lobe decor. "There's nothing worse than overkill," says Nancy Chistollini, regional fashion director for Hecht's. "You don't want a large earring crashing into a lot going on at the neck, so look to smaller earrings with movement, like delicate museum drops."

Cameos are also an important ingredient in this season's romantic message, and still going strong. Starting last spring, those immortal faces have advanced beyond just jewelry to romance barettes, gloves, hats, bags, sleeves and button covers. Also part of the Old World charm are thick banded rings with marcasite and semiprecious stones that "when layered or worn in multiples, have an instant '90s sensibility," says Ms. Kenney of Accessories.

Remember, the best way to invest in a trend is in small doses. And there's an abundance of other accessories besides jewelry to pick up this fall that can instantly update what's already hanging in your closet. Here's a few to look for:

* Collars and cuffs play an important role in the latest fanciful fashions, from lacey jabots, elegant choker collars and ruffled bibs to elasticized slip-on cuffs that peek out from under jacket sleeves.

* Jacket clips can transform last year's boxy boyfriend jacket into a shapely dandy style by gathering in the back. Stores like Hit Or Miss carry an array of jacket clips for as little as $3.99 in tailored metals, tapestry, lace and passementerie.

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