Short and sweet. Sheer and sexy. That's how American designers plan to dress women next spring. The mood is young and frisky, to match the circus atmosphere which prevailed in the big tents in New York's Bryant Park where designers made their first collective effort to put the American fashion industry on the global map.
They say, whoever They are, that hemlines rise with the economy. If last week's shows were any indication, we are in for a business boom-boom.
Designers had an almost unanimous show of thighs to vote out long and bring in short. So short in some cases that the demarcation between hemline and waistline was only a matter of a few inches of fabric.
Not a realistic direction for most women, but a showy way to make the short statement.
The shapes were girlishly flirtatious, with little tops flaring into soft flippy skirts with movement.
The fabrics were light and sheer, some nearly transparent, again message to women to lighten up after a long, drab winter.
Here then are the key elements for spring and summer dressing. Some we've worn before comfortably, others will take mirror practice. And aren't you glad you held on to your short skirts?
The slip dress
Just that, the same shape and weight as seen in the lingerie department. Thin straps, a defined bodice and bare back. It was seen in transparent silk, linen gauze, cotton jersey, beaded chiffon and sturdy denim. It may be trimmed in lingerie lace, tied up with silk ribbons or contrast piped. The slip dress may be totally temptress or cute baby doll, but it is always short and small.
Slip dresses preclude any underwear other than panties and can only be wornby rail-thin adolescents. Not for women who feel undressed without a bra.
The tight tank top was basic to almost all collections. Snug and knit to hug and hold the body, it was made into skimp dresses, long and curvy evening columns, as a body suit under jacket and skirt or as a romper for the spa set. The naughtier designers cropped it to barely cover the bosom. This classic athletic design with scooped or racer back works only for hard-body women who have been doing their laps faithfully.
Short and shorter is the way skirts have gone, but designers have given them some extra play for spring.
The prettiest and most wearable have fullness, whether they are school-girlishly pleated or finished in A-line ripples. When they're notskirts they're skorts, cut full or pleated like tap-dance pants. The side-wrap kilt has been revived, but cut very, very short and in fabrics such as metallic leather or denim. The draped sarong of a few seasons past is still around and very graceful. There is no skirt length between mid-thigh and ankle.
It's not all romper room dressing. Designers know adult women need and buy professional pieces. Work does not stop in summer. There are plenty of good career looks, which are often overshadowed by the razzmatazz of runway hype. Longer, softly tailored jackets in silks and linens put short skirts in their place. There is the option of layering jackets over vests or relaxed tank tops. Pants have made their way into the work place already and some of the smartest looks for spring pair narrow trousers, a tunic jacket and lean, clean top.
Designers are all over the map.
From China they have taken simple work coats, elegant Mandarin-collar tunics with frog closings or the slim Suzie Wong cheongsam dress in bright colors. From Southeast Asia come flowing sarongs in batik prints and iridescent Thai silks cut into floating coats. There are embroideries from Morocco and glinty sari trims from India.
Gorgeous looks for tropical temperatures.
It's best to warn you, although some people will not listen and continue to fall into the trend pit.
The look for legs is thigh-high -- stockings that stop mid-thigh, revealing that part of the flesh which has kept the cellulite quacks in business for decades. Sometimes there's the added attraction of a garter belt.
The look for feet is high-top, as in silver, lug-sole combat boots or mid-calf, platform sneakers. Get out the Sneaker Tamer.
Combine the two looks above, and you may keep muggers at bay, but you'll still be fashion-victimized.