Fit to be triedShopping for jeans can be a tough workout...

STYLE FILE

September 22, 1996|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

Fit to be tried

Shopping for jeans can be a tough workout. Undress, wiggle, pull, tug, bend. Too tight, not tight enough, peel out and start over. Tired yet? Research shows that, on the average, women try on 10 pairs of jeans before they find a successful fit.

Lee Apparel has been testing an interactive kiosk called a Fit Finder that helps customers to narrow their choices. The test kiosk locally is installed at Hecht's in Harford Mall in Bel Air.

The customer greets the machine, punches in pertinent information such as size, color, style preferences. Full leg? Tapered? The machine comes up with two recommendations for a compatible cut.

There's a pull-out tape-measure so customers can enter accurate information. With modern sensitivity, the Fit Finder records measures alphabetically, so customers don't have to display the truth about their hips on the video screen for all to see.

Store manager Helen Altomonte says the Bel Air location was chosen for the test kiosk because demographic studies by Lee showed a high-volume of jeans interest in the area. The kiosk is located in the misses weekend wear department along with other strong denim lines. A notable increase in men's casual clothing sales for the first half of the year has been fueled by dress-down upgrade lines, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites NPD Group Inc, a research firm that monitors apparel purchases in 16,000 households.

Upgrade dress-down translates to clothes that are dressier than denim and khaki but less formal than a pinstripe.

Manufacturers are aiming at men who have discovered that casual dressing requires a wardrobe distinct from their weekend sloppies and are introducing lines of separates that coordinate but don't have the formality of a suit. The next step is teaching men that it's OK to mix suits and sweaters. A diamond solitaire could be yours if you guess the name of the celebrity wearing the pendant in the DeBeers fall campaign. The face is shown from the nose down and is only slightly fuzzier than those out-of-focus and kindly shots usually reserved for Liz Taylor. The diamond folks say it's a famous face. The contest ad runs in October issues of In Style and Vanity Fair.

Working the lecture circuit

Supermodel Tyra Banks had a leading role in "Higher Learning." She is now to be a real participant in the Johns Hopkins University's 1996 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium.

This academic year's topic is "Defining Generation X," and Banks will speak of the way fashion plays on the culture of her generation. As one of the few African-Americans to achieve star status in the industry, which she says is the only industry "that can be openly racist," she has learned about life in a crash course, having chosen a career that soars in the teens and peaks in the 20s. At the last fall designer collections, models of color were noticeably scarce on the runways. A trend?

RF She will speak at the university's Shriver Hall Sept. 26 at 8 p.m.

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