Hot looks and cool shoulders

Fashion: Want to be stylishly armed and dangerous this winter? Wear spaghetti straps and arm warmers, then flex those taut biceps.

November 04, 2001|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,Sun Staff

The leaves have changed color. Fifty-degree days have set in. And, winter, snow and cold, cold weather aren't too far behind.

There was a time when these were nature's indicators that the day finally had come for women to say goodbye to a summer of shoulder-flaunting and to tuck away their tank tops and sexy, sleeveless blouses until next spring.

Well, not anymore.

This fall, a hot new accessory is hitting stores that will allow women to defy those dastardly wintry chills -- arm warmers.

Whether they're woolen, crocheted or spandex versions, these tubular creations have been spotted on hip celebrities like Pink, Jessica Alba and Britney Spears. They not only lend a sporty look to a fall ensemble; they're also practical.

"Most women are working out more now and they don't want to cover up that toned shoulder or biceps," said Tom Julian, a New York-based fashion trend analyst with Fallon Worldwide. "If you're wearing the strapless, the sleeveless, the camisole-esque top year-round, you're going to think, 'OK, I'll wear a winter coat but I still need something to keep the arms warm.' "

Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion market director at Allure magazine, said the first signs of this trend were seen a few years ago when designer Helmut Lang showed a series of long-sleeved tops that were cut to leave sections of the arms exposed.

Then, NBA bad boy Allen Iverson garnered more interest in the accessory when he began wearing long arm bands during games early this year, and new posters for Fox series Dark Angel appeared recently featuring Jessica Alba prominently donning them.

"It's a sporty, hip look," said Joanna Wannarachue, women's accessories buyer for Urban Outfitters, which is introducing a line of toasty woolen arm warmers this month. "They're a cute [alternative] to a glove."

Chanel is carrying the look into spring with a selection of fitted armbands of different lengths. Julian, however, predicted that the look would not last through next fall.

Morrison noted that the spandex arm warmers, especially ones that don't cover the full length of the arm, can give women the air of power.

"When it's tight and sexy, it kind of gives you this strong woman look," she said. "You can wear this look and be sexy without being too revealing."

But experts cautioned that the accessory isn't for all women.

"It will bring a lot of attention to your arms and if you're not comfortable with your arms, then forget it," Morrison said.

And, before putting down money for a pair of arm warmers, a trip to the gym may be a requirement.

"You do have to have a shapely arm," Julian said. "It doesn't necessarily need to be slender, but if you are short fore-armed and lacking in shape in the biceps area, this probably wouldn't be very complimentary."

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