What's hot and what's not for spring?
Holly Davis, fashion and beauty merchandising editor with Glamour magazine in New York City was in town recently to answer that question.Davis conducted a style workshop at ZCMI. She explained the latest apparel industry trends and, during a fashion show, illustrated how women can use a few key pieces - Glamour calls them "must haves" - to update their wardrobes.
Perhaps the most important "must have" to put on your list: a great jacket. According to the Glamour editor, everything in fashion is revolving around jackets this season - and there are as many pretty ones in the marketplace as there are spring flowers in a garden.
You can pick a short style that ends at the waist. Or you can select a longer version. You can go for double-breasted designs or single. But generally speaking, the silhouette should be curvy - not boxy and straight - and the shoulders should be rounded, not squared off and severe.
There's a definite trend in fashion toward femininity, Davis noted during an interview. Jacket waists are gently defined, and exaggerated shoulder padding is out.
Favorite colors in jackets are navy, white, beige and all the earthy tones. Occasional brights also are putting in a cheerful appearance for warm weather.
The Chanel influence is being strongly felt throughout the women's wear industry, and gold buttons are running rampant.
Davis likes the look of spring jackets with chiffon scarves. And that brings us to another key piece that women should think about adding to their wardrobes.
Scarves, emphasizes the Glamour editor, have never disappeared from view. But this season they're making headlines. You can wear them in dozens of ways. Knotted loosely at the neck with long ends flowing free - the way Isadora Duncan used to sweep into a room. You can tie them at your waist to vary the look of a skirt or dress. You can wrap them around your head and put on your sunglasses - very incognito, very romantic, very Audrey Hepburn.
A scarf is a terrific investment, in the editor's opinion. It can create dozens of different looks, and the cost isn't going to send you into bankruptcy.
More costly but worth every cent, she said, is the longer and more fluid skirt that's being shown for spring.
There's a definite resurgence of interest in hems that flirt with the ankles, Davis noted. Designers are showing them teamed with either a short jacket or cardigan that extends below the hips. (According to Davis, a survey was done at Glamour magazine recently. Readers were asked what they really wanted in clothes, and longer skirts were mentioned time and time again.)
But don't think just because the more ladylike skirt is back - and back in a big way - that it's your only alternative. No, ma'am! The Glamour editor emphasized that choice is the name of the game in fashion these days.
Designers, she said, tried to tell women a few seasons back that the mini was it. Most women resented the dictatorial tone and countered by simply not buying. Now designers have learned. What American females demand is variety - and they want a chance to do their own thing, express their own individuality through clothes.
So, for spring, you can find the fresh-looking ankle-grazer . . . or you can go for a knee-grazer . . . or you can go for something that has a hemline somewhere in between. And if none of those choices appeal, you can try one of the other hot fashion items in the headlines: pants.
For warm weather, designers are offering beautiful pants galore. The newest-looking silhouette has wide legs, according to the Glamour editor, and it's especially smart for evening. For daytime, less extreme styles are probably wiser purchases. And there's everything you can possibly imagine available - from capris to classic pleated trousers.
That word "classic" brings up another point about spring apparel. Much of it does have a traditional bent.
"I consider it a very good season to buy because there are so many smart basics around," noted Davis. "These are clothes you can add to your wardrobe and build on for several seasons to come. They aren't going to go out of style right away, which makes them a smart investment."
The smart investment might begin with one or two wonderful pieces - a classic navy blazer, for instance, or one of those new and longer skirts. Then vary those purchases with other separates that mix and match. The secret is to build your wardrobe methodically - not to buy randomly. Look for things that will work together and complement each other.
Once you've built a good basic wardrobe for warm weather with just a few key pieces that can mix and match - well, then it's time to think about accessories.
Important at the moment, said Davis, are chains and pearls. It's the Chanel influence. Metallic touches also are essential for both daytime and evening - and there isn't a snappier way to update slacks or a simple skirt than with metallic loafers.
Ethnic jewelry, wood, coral and things with a Far Eastern aura are in the spotlight.
Also in the spotlight for spring: knits and seasonless fabrics. The Glamour editor believes in them strongly because she does a great deal of traveling and can't fool around with irons or suitcases full of stuff.
"I have to keep it to a minimum when I go to stores all around the country to do these shows," she said. "My traveling companion, Nancy Yberg (also a Glamour merchandising editor), and I invest in knits because they won't wrinkle. We also like materials that adapt to temperature change."
Davis has made some other investments this spring as well.
"I've bought a pleated white skirt - it's a great look. I also have a short jacket and a chiffon scarf. I never buy tons of clothes. I just look for a few things that I just absolutely love; things that make me feel wonderful. That, I believe, is what fashion's all about."