Ready to Wear

Local notables model the newest styles for spring, which are fun and surprisingly wearable.

The Real Stuff

March 26, 2000|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Get real. You winced at the idea of python hot pants, warm-weather leather and a denim ball gown with a sequined top. But luckily the best of the designer runway looks for spring translate to soft, feminine clothes, fun colors, and accessories that easily update your wardrobe.

"This spring's clothes are very wearable," says Carolyn Moss, fashion director of ready-to-wear for Macy's, East Coast Division. "There are a lot of choices; it's like the way real people dress."

With that in mind, we thought the best way to show off spring's new styles would be to take them off the runway and have area celebrities model them. Baltimore's first lady Katie O'Malley and company, basketball coach Stephanie Ready, news anchor Audrey Barnes and - for the men - concertmaster Herbert Greenberg obliged.

Fashion is usually unpredictable, so who would have guessed that instead of futuristic, stripped-down chic, the hot news in spring 2000 would be flirty dresses with ruffles, flowery prints and embroidery. What luck! The stores are filled with clothes that could become instant classics.

The feminine mystique: This spring the gender thing got resolved, and ladylike dresses are very much in style. These come ruffled in soft and breezy fabrics such as silk chiffon, or innocent with an edge (a shirt dress in a Liberty print with a few buttons left unbuttoned). On the softest styles, an asymmetrical hemline looks very new. If a sheer, flirtatious dress doesn't fit your style, how about a ruffled blouse to wear with your power suit?

Back to the fuchsia: Zap the blacks, grays and khakis in your closet with a jolt of color. Enthusiastic, optimistic color.

"Spring tops are bright," says Nancy Chistolini, senior vice president of fashion and public affairs at Hecht's, in shades like fuchsia, coral, melon, mint green, kiwi and turquoise. "Put them with what you already have in your wardrobe."

Feeling bolder? Invest in a pair of hot pink sandals or go tropical bright head to toe. Just remember to complement vibrant color with brighter makeup.

The skins game: Slithery snakeskin, particularly python, is getting all the press. We're talking fake snake here, so you can get it in the season's brightest shades. Skirts and dresses in reptile prints have slinky style, but a little lizard goes a long way. A python slide, belt or bag gives a hip touch to basics without being over the top.

Lightweight leather is the other skin that's in. Look for skirts, pants and jackets in white and pastel shades (or saturated colors for the more daring). Perforated leather for a lacy look has lots of pow for spring.

Jean therapy: It's a season full of contradictions. In spite of all the flowing fabrics and girly-girl detailing, denim is one of spring's hottest looks. You'll still find the classics, like a simple jean jacket, but the newest blues are decorated with embroidery, sequins, fringe and beads. Bohemian chic meets country casual.

Bumper crop

Last year capri pants were just starting to make a splash. This spring the longer crop, just above the ankle, looks more up-to-date. Most pants for spring end somewhere between the knee and ankle -- except hot pants for the young and edgy.

And speaking of lengths, skirt hemlines mainly hover around the knee, although fashionistas are still saying any length goes.

Details, details

This spring, more is more. Blame it on global influences, a readiness for excess or the return to femininity. Then invest in an embroidered shawl, a crystal-beaded T-shirt or a sequined denim skirt.

"Fashion is decorated and embellished with beads, embroidery and fringe," says LaVelle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion merchandising for Lord & Taylor. "Fabrics are often embroidered as well -- trims for pants and borders for skirt hems and blouses."

Spring essentials

Few of us can afford to throw out last year's wardrobe and start all over. But sometimes just one feel-good piece can make all the difference. This spring updating is particularly easy because accessories are so important. Adding a pair of red snakeskin sandals works as well as buying a whole new outfit.

Have a spring fling. Invest in one or more of these easy pieces:

A ruffled blouse

Python pumps or bag

Twin set with a three-quarter-length-sleeve cardigan

Cropped-at-the-ankle khakis

An embroidered or sequined denim jacket

A bit of white, spring-weight leather

A pleated skirt

A polka dot or gingham dress

A coral, melon, turquoise or mint green top

Crystal bead bracelets

Something in a flowery print

Gold instead of silver

Slim trench coat

T-strap leather thong sandal

A bohemian chic handbag

Something with a logo. They're back.

Y-chromosome chic

OK, we know that men's fashions change at glacial speed compared to women's, but there is news: vibrant colors, floral prints, new lengths in pants, and detailing. Sound familiar? Of course, the florals are mostly tropical prints and the vibrant color may be a hot pink or turquoise polo shirt you wear with khakis, but the parallels with women's trends are there.

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