Translucence is a clear favorite

Lucite sandals, belts you see through, and jelly bags are popular accessories

March 21, 2004|By Lisa Jones Townsel | Lisa Jones Townsel,Knight Ridder / Tribune

In the middle of a season drenched in rich color, look closer -- and see clear-ly. Chances are you've already eyed some of the Lucite sandals, high-gloss belts, chunky resin bracelets and, of course, the transparently popular Jelly Kelly bags that have found their way into the closets and hearts of a slew of fashionistas.

To some, it might seem futile to wear an accessory that's devoid of color, but who can quibble with the numbers? Clear is hot, especially among the bubble-gum crowd.

"It's great to have so much color, but clear can add an element of interest," notes Ellen Soule, public relations manager for Neiman Marcus. "Clear accessories have become fun, innovative and eye-catching. When in doubt, a clear shoe will go with anything."

It's that sort of versatility that has fashion-seekers looking for more of less.

"Clear Lucite is the new neutral for spring," says Tina Hodak of Famous-Barr. "It works well against all the great color."

The newness, she and others say, is in the mix.

"Some people want to do color in their wardrobe but nothing that's too overwhelming, and the translucents provide a softer look," says Jena McClintock, a buyer for Ziezo and Good Luck Shoes in St. Louis. At Ziezo, see-through mini-purses that look like shopping bags and chunky, bright clear bracelets glisten on the shelves.

"This way," she explains, "you can do a hot-pink dress and a translucent bag as opposed to a hot-pink one. And it's a little less intimidating," McClintock says, noting that the return of the jelly clear, translucent look is "primarily" a favorite of youthful girls.

Others agree. "Clear belts worn with jeans and cargo pants are popular among teens. And the shoes, which can be worn with club skirts, evening gowns and jeans," adds Shemeka Gambrell, store manager of the Deb Shop at Jamestown Mall in St. Louis.

Her store carries a slew of see-through belts, hair accessories and shoes.

"It's fun, trendy and gives you a sense that there is nothing there," Gambrell says of Deb's translucent pieces, which includes a number of prom-ready high clear-heeled sandals. "It's cute, especially with evening gowns, and when you can't find the right color to go with something, you can go with clear."

Gambrell credits such star powers as Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz with reigniting interest in clear stuff. Both Barrymore and Diaz have reportedly snagged armloads of the Kool-Aid-shaded Jelly Kelly bags that continue to fly off the shelves. (Jelly Kellys are Steven Stolman's colorful knockoff versions of Hermes' much-pricier Birkin and Kelly bags.)

Ziezo's McClintock hopes the return of translucents -- which certainly aren't bringing in the largest profit margins to retailers -- is sweet but short. "I'm hoping people will be tired of it. It doesn't seem like something that has a lot of longevity," she says.

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