Wear some accessories, but only some

April 04, 1996|By Kelly Degarmo | Kelly Degarmo,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Barely does it.

That's the new rule when it comes to accessories. Pack away the chunky gold necklaces and matching earrings. They're fashion history for now.

Instead, focus on one or two key points, spaced apart, such as a silver chain belt, a pair of lace gloves, a Y necklace or a wristful of wire bangles.

Go easy, but don't skip out on jewelry altogether. Without it, the minimalist look shown on many runways can look hard, masculine and austere, says California-based jewelry designer Dana Kellin, who is credited with starting the Y necklace craze.

"It's true you don't see a lot of jewelry on the runway or in magazines today, but the minimal movement has actually helped our business. Ready-to-wear designers and fashion editors tend to take ideas to the extreme. Jewelry, especially delicate jewelry, gives the look a softer edge. It's feminine and sexy yet doesn't undermine clean, modern sportswear."

Slinky and sexy, the delicate chain belt -- in gold, silver, black and white -- is a favorite of Ellen Tracy designer Linda Allard.

"It looks young and modern," says Ms. Allard, who added the belt to skirts, dresses and pants in her spring collection. "The chain belt worn lower on the hips also helps achieve the same effect as wearing hip-huggers."

Priced at $18 and up, chain belts come in silver and gold finishes and run the gamut from simple links to ornate Chanel-esque designs.

Another inexpensive idea: the neckerchief scarf, an $8 find in the men's department. Pair it with polo shirts, twin sets and V-neck tops as an alternative to a necklace. Choose a soft material, not a scratchy synthetic that will irritate your neck during hot weather.

In jewelry, silver carries more fashion clout now than gold, says Neiman Marcus vice president and fashion director Joan Kaner. Wear multiple wire silver bangles on one arm. Or try the clear, plastic jewelry, which gives a hint of mod, especially when worn with white. Slip on a delicate Y necklace or leather cord choker necklace (also budget finds at $16 and up). Or try a chunky ring, preferably with large, faceted color stones set in silver metal.

Sunglasses and hand-held bags, recalling the '50s and '60s especially, remain standouts. Large, white frames, made by every brand from Gucci to Liz Claiborne, reflect just the right retro attitude for the '90s. The new structured short shoulder bag gains ground on the popular backpack as a more sophisticated alternative. In her DKNY line, designer Donna Karan offers a variety of vinyl shoulder totes and backpacks in yummy tones of VTC lavender, coral, aqua and white, priced in the $100 range.

For shoes, flat is back. Ballerina slippers and thongs will comfort your feet (although some versions have no support whatsoever). Patent leather turns up everywhere (Target, included) in white, brown, red, yellow and even lime sandals and loafers. Nine West brightens its spring shoe collection with pearly ice blue and pale pink. In step with mod, without being too heavy or too girlish, these pastel-colored shoes add a feminine touch.

Along with flats, shoes with square toes and sturdy, square heels step up to the top of the list. Hush puppies, loafers and jellies continue in a range of new colors, from violet to lemon, sure to fire up a basic black wardrobe.

Overall, the variety of stylish, comfy, low-heeled options is good news to today's busy women, who dislike teetering on skinny, high heels, no matter how sexy they look.

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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