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Fashionistas are all dolled up

Women's holiday fashions get girly

Women's holiday fashions get girly

December 05, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

When the going gets tough, party-dress shoppers get picky.

They want something frilly, something durable, something trendy and something that has more than one end use.

"I think what they're trying to do is find a look they can wear to a party, then dress down and wear everyday, economize - like a two-for-one," said Lori Ruda, a manager at Lena's of Hagerstown, a downtown clothing boutique.

According to local retailers, shoppers aren't spending less nor are they reaching for the tried-and-true Little Black Dress on standby from last year's round of holiday parties. Women in this economy want more bang for their buck.

Donna Papuchis, sales associate at Potomac Bridals in Hagerstown's Public Square, made this same point when she held up a cap-sleeved, above-the-knee dress that would have been considered a classic cut - had it not been covered in hot-pink sequins. Potomac Bridals sells formal wear in addition to bridal fashions.

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"If I wanted to go out to a party and I picked this dress," Papuchis said, holding up the dress. "It's a classic cut, but I'd have to ask myself, 'Would I wear this again next season?'"

Holiday fashion gets girly

Still, women are indulging in a few trends - dresses with at- or above-the knee hemlines, sequins in small doses, chunky jewelry, and the color purple used as an accent color.

Lately, retailers say, fashion has taken on a more lady-like mood for winter, with lots of bows and ruffles, and dresses with full skirts.

Silks and taffetas are popular materials for the 20-and-older set. Younger shoppers are loving sequins and short, backless party dresses, retailers say.

New York City-based designer Donna Degnan, whose pieces are sold at She-Town Divas in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said some of the more "conservative" looks, such as the boyfriend jacket with slim pants, hadn't done as well as the dresses, which have had stronger sales.

"People are really gravitating toward pretty party dress with '60s influence," Degnan said in a recent phone interview with The Herald-Mail.

She said one of her best-sellers for the holiday was black dress with a full skirt and a scoop neckline, made of shantung silk and a deep purple lining.

Deep purple

It seems purple is the new "it" color.

"That and eggplant," said Thais Reilly, sales associate at Potomac Bridals. Reilly said winter purples were most often paired with black, a duo that compliments skin tones well.

Macy's dubbed "wild berries" - plums, dark purples, warm magentas - as a key color trend for its fall 2009 women's ready-to-wear fashions, menswear and accessories.

The trend has continued to reverberate locally through the winter season.

Allie Buchman, co-owner of Potomac Bead Company, said purple was a carry-over from last year and has remained a popular pick for jewelry makers this season.

Potomac Bead is a wholesale bead shop headquartered in Chambersburg, Pa., with stores in Hagerstown, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio and in Europe.

Lisa Lazarczyk, sales associate at Shepherdstown's She-town Divas, said amethyst was a big trend.

In Hagerstown, red has emerged as a popular color. "We've sold more red this year," said Ruda, the manager from Lena's. Ruda said Hagerstonians were slow to embrace another trend, animal prints, though they've been popular other places.

Accessories: size matters

Scoop-neck dresses leave plenty of room for for big, chunky jewelry. Large-size beads have been big sellers this season at Potomac Bead Company.

"The closer you are to a big city, the chunkier the jewelry gets," said Buchman.

In places like Alexandria, Va., big beads are on high demand.

"Hagerstown is a toss-up," Buchman said, adding that large gemstone beads have been big sellers around here.

Ruda said big even applies to earrings, which she said can come so large, wearing a chunky necklace and earrings would be too much.

Large earrings are also worth considering even if the neckline of the outfit is already lined with large beads, gems, sequins or rhinestones, said Papuchis and Reilly as they swivelled one bedazzled dress after another from the racks.

Buchman said she's seen more interest this season in charm bracelets and pendants, things that can be personalized - with the idea that a bracelet might hold more special meaning if you made one for someone else.

"If they're going to make it, they want it to stand out," Buchman said.

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