Get Dressed

For Every Woman, In Every Situation, Almost Every Designer Has A One-piece Solution This Spring

March 18, 2007|By Tanika White | Tanika White,Sun Reporter

IT'S JUST DAYS AWAY FROM SPRING AND the dressing is about to be easy, ladies.

Sure, warmer months mean fewer clothes to pull on each morning, but spring's ease of dressing comes from more than just that.

Designers and retailers are making self-adornment simple by declaring one key piece the center of the season: The dress.

"So many think a dress is for a special occasion and it's really not," says Gregg Andrews, fashion director for Nordstrom's eastern region. "This season, I think women are going to discover the ease of one-piece dressing. And the great thing about the dress is there's so many different styles: the shirt dress, the wrap dress, some of the fuller trapeze-shaped dresses. There's draping and ruching on dresses that is almost goddess-inspired. A woman could own an entire wardrobe of dresses. She could have a dress for every day of the week."

On the runways in New York last September -- when designers first revealed their visions for spring -- it was clear the dress would be big, and experts were thrilled even then about it.

"I think dresses are fabulous," says Amy Cafazzo, style expert for Marshalls. "You can get up in the morning, you can throw one on. It takes minimal thought when my brain hasn't had coffee yet."

At nearly every runway show, there was a different kind of dress revealed: mod 1960s short dresses, empire-waist dresses, T-shirt dresses, shift dresses, sundresses, baby doll dresses and loose, unstructured, comfortable jersey knit dresses.

"Dresses came in every possible permutation to fit every age group, every budget and most people style's," says Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harpers Bazaar magazine, of the variety that emerged during last year's fashion shows. "So don't be nervous that there's only one style and you have to fit into it."

Graham says many dresses --such as those at Karl Lagerfeld, Derek Lam and TSE -- appeared on the runway in "the season's must-have color: white."

White is indeed the ultimate neutral and there are three great ways to wear it. Pair it with black. Pair it with a bright, 80s-inspired color. Or wear it all-over in a sleek monochromatic outfit.

"White is just super hot for spring," says Cafazzo, of Marshalls.

Black and white looks the most chic, but wearing a crisp navy -- a nautical look -- also is a clean, fresh approach to the color.

"We see some nautical every season, but it's really big this year," says Laura McDowell, fashion spokeswoman for T.J. Maxx. "Navy and white, whether it's in flowy blouses, or in striped sweaters, red-white-and-blue little striped shoes, chain-link necklaces, or rope style belts -- nautical is across the board."

The nautical theme this season goes along with another bigger trend, experts say: the preppy look.

Collared shirts or polos will be popular this season, especially in when worn with white. The freshest way to wear your trusty polo this spring is to rock it ultra-bright.

"You're going to see a tremendous amount of bright colors," says LaShawn Brown, juniors buyer for Synchronicity, a boutique for girls and young women in Pikesville. "Pretty greens, bright yellow -- yellow is going to be big -- and purple, too."

Yellow? Some might balk at the color, which has long been perceived as hard-to-wear, but there's more than one way to wear yellow, experts say, and more than one shade of yellow to wear.

"It's about the entire palette of yellow," says Andrews, of Nordstrom. "From soft shades of yellow and banana to brighter shades of daffodil and lemon. It blends beautifully with white, or with any of the beige or tan kind of colors, but also with navy blue it's really beautiful. There's lots of options in terms of how to wear yellow."

Some girls might want to wear their fruity-colored polo tops with a skirt in white, denim or a trendy madras print. Others may want to be even more fashionable and wear their brightly-hued top with a pair of shorts.

In fact, shorts, in two distinct lengths, are extremely significant for spring. Longish, in a Bermuda length -- or very, very short.

The shorty-shorts that are popular this spring might not be for everyone, experts agree. That's where the Bermuda short -- sometimes called a "city short" -- comes in.

"I think we all have been wearing a capri [pant] for the past few spring seasons," says Cyndie Washburn-Nester, JC Penney's trend director for women. "And now the Bermuda and the shorter-short are a lot more important. For the working woman, a Bermuda looks great with a jacket. It's no different than wearing a short skirt and it's just much more modern."

Showing a lot of leg is a key trend for spring, but for those cooler days, fashion experts say it's trendy to wear a crisp pair of wide-leg trousers.

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