Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Spring fashions a flashback to polished, ladylike '50s look

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NEW YORK -- The fashion pendulum has swung again, this time knocking out the loose bohemian styles that were all the rage only a year ago.

Many of spring's top looks are polished, pretty and quite ladylike; the clothes are reminiscent of the 1950s with their polka dots, small floral prints and bows, but they are a little sexier than the average North American housewife was wearing at the time.

Think more Brigitte Bardot and a little less June Cleaver.

"There were a variety of different decades covered for spring but the '50s seem to be the linchpin decade," says Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar. "(This past) fall-winter began to mark a change to a chic, ladylike dressing with pencil skirts and high-heel pumps so the spring trend just sort of fell into place."

This might mean an end to sloppy dress -- women of the '50s wouldn't dare leave the house in the oversized, mismatched clothes now seen on the street -- but the new style isn't a fussy one, either.

Outfits are pulled together with simple touches such as sweater sets, slim belts, colourful shoes and matching handbags. "This whole look is easy to wear without looking overly dressed," Graham says.

It's also a trend within the financial reach of most people.

Those who can't afford to run out and buy Marc Jacobs' new pastel-coloured tweed suits with three-quarter-sleeves can probably find something similar in a vintage clothing store.

Also put peek-a-boo shoes, ballet flats, halter tops and cat-eye sunglasses -- all available in a range of prices -- on a shopping list.

Mary Jimenez, vice-president of merchandising for ELuxury, calls the style both "grownup cute" and "a nice cohesive look."

"Designers are listening more to what women want," she says. "Last year, clothes were dark and sombre and edgier. People are ready for this spring in so many ways: people are depressed, they want to see something happy. Women want to look pretty. And last year's peasant (look) was for the very young, while this appeals to a wider spectrum of women."

A new DKNY dot dress, for instance, is not only for teenage waifs, Jimenez says, because the designer wisely put small dots on top with the pattern getting gradually larger toward the hemline.

Aliza Licht, senior public relations director for Donna Karan, says the spring trunk shows have attracted women in their 20s through 60s, many of whom are looking for '50s-inspired garments.

"Corset waists pull you in, a lot of gathering at the hip hides sins and halters are flattering. It (1950s dressing) sounds like a really scary idea but the clothes are made to be flattering," Licht says.

Graham also points out that colourful accessories on the feet and in the hair and hand draw the eye away from a body's trouble spots.

-- Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 28, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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