Spring's new looks are designed for the free spirit. There's a little something for everyone -- minimalists will love the practicality of military-style parachute pants, while romantics will swoon over shimmery dresses with chiffon overlays. All the freshest looks for spring have one thing in common, though. Pure comfort.
The season's key directions
In the pink. The big news is color, and leading the way are pastels. Pink is everywhere, but lilac, mint and pale yellow also look very new. If a pale blush pink isn't your style, opt for a dusty rose or a bright, bold fuchsia. There's a general lightening of the palette shading to pure white.
Hippie chic. Inspired by late '60s and '70s fashion, millennial flower child style glorifies ornate embroidery, beads, dangly earrings, fringe, paisley, ragged jeans and suede. Ethnic inspirations like embroidered peasant blouses abound.
Pretty woman. A new romanticism reveals itself in loose-flowing dresses, floral prints, sheer fabrics, bare shoulders, sheer overdresses and details like ruffles and scalloped hems. It's sensual but innocent.
Survival gear. Utility style takes its lead from both athletic clothes and military uniforms. Its lines are simple and comfortable; olive drab and khaki are its colors. Detailing is important -- cargo pockets, big zippers, drawstrings and Velcro closures. Trench coats and hands-free bags are also part of the look.
This isn't Paris, hon
Which of the runway styles will do well in our area? Here's what local store owners and fashion directors see as the important clothes for spring:
senior vice president -- fashion and merchandising, Lord & Taylor:
Among the defining looks for spring are twin sweater sets, the three-quarter sleeve, pants (whether they are cargo, drawstring waist, cropped) and a looser, shirt-like jacket.
If you could recommend only one thing to update a wardrobe for spring? The handbag to own is the one that frees your hands for other tasks and could be either a new body or belt bag.
senior vice president of fashion and public affairs, Hecht's:
Think the letter "S." Shorts with drawstrings or cargo pockets. Skirts in all lengths, A-line or long and slim. Sleeveless will be big -- dresses, knits or T-shirts. You must have Something Sheer (a top, dress or skirt) and Something Stretch, even for evening.
One thing for spring? A boat neck stretch top with three-quarter-length sleeves. Either a T-shirt or silk knit. Get it in a pale color: pink, blue or mint.
fashion director of ready-to-wear for Macy's, East Coast Division:
There's more color than we've seen in years. Lots of pink. We're seeing a lot of dresses, with details like drawstrings and scallops. There's a fluid look for evening. Knits are loopier, a bulky look. There's a lot of white.
One thing for spring? A new pair of casual pants, either drawstring or capris.
East Coast fashion director, Nordstrom:
White is an instant spring wardrobe update this year. Some possibilities are a special white sweater in a fine-gauge knit, white or off-white chinos or man-tailored trousers, a white skirt with pocket interest and drawstring detail, even white shoes. But they should be flat -- slides, slingbacks or sandals -- to look new.
One thing for spring? A white jacket. Look for boxy shapes in linen or 100 percent cotton.
The capri pant is a hot item for us with a feminine little sandal. Sweater sets are still strong in Baltimore for a lot of ladies. Anything in a shade of pink is doing well, like dresses that ombre from light to dark pink. Also lilac and a pretty ice blue.
One thing for spring? A pretty, feminine dress, like the Diane von Furstenberg peasant dress with a square neck in a new length, just below the knee.
Mary Carroll Alderman
The peasanty '60s concept will be important, but it's more feminine than in the '60s. Skirts are softer -- A-line or cut on the bias. It gives them ease and movement. These clothes have a peaceful, easy feeling.
One thing for spring? A printed georgette layering piece, either a blouse or a T-shirt.
sales associate, Ruth Shaw:
People are coming in asking for utility chic. We have cargo pants in all fabrications. We'll also be carrying a lot of dresses for a change, like a D & G stretch satin sheath with a sheer chiffon overlay.
One thing for spring? Eskander has a very easy, Japanese-inspired white linen shirt that drapes beautifully.
Sweater sets are still really important in Baltimore. Everything's gotten very, very casual. Also new are feminine, sheer lacy looks. There's still a lot of gray, a holdover from fall, but it's a silvery gray. You can mix it with pink and blue.
One thing for spring? I love capri pants with either a big shirt or cropped top. They give the same feeling as shorts but hide the leg.
Seven easy pieces
With these functional finds, you'll be up-to-date without looking like a fashion victim:
* cropped pants
* something pink
* three-quarter-sleeve top
* knee-length skirt
* flat shoe
* camisole or sleeveless shell
* loose-fitting dress
Spring's best accessories
* anything clear (such as Lucite)
* stiff linen bag
* hands-free bag
* bare flat shoe
* sports shoe with a rubber sole
* pretty barrettes with butterflies
* anything with embroidery
* wooden bangles
* a choker
* something with ribbons
* "illusion wire" jewelry (the thin strand is almost invisible)
Pub Date: 03/07/99