By and  on January 23, 2006

NEW YORK — Belts were the buzz as retailers prowled Accessorie Circuit at the Show Piers, AccessoriesTheShow at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here and showrooms around town this month for the latest spring and pre-fall must-have accessories.

In addition to belts, from wide leather silhouettes to chain styles, handbags and jewelry maintained high profiles.

"Belts were the biggest growth category in accessories [in our stores] in 2005," said Stacey Pecor, owner of Olive and Bette's, which has four locations here and an e-commerce business.

Pecor bought belts from at least five vendors, including Streets Ahead and Hadley Pollet.

"We're selling so much denim that it is an easy add-on sale," Pecor said.

Eight-year-old British belt company Black & Brown showed vintage-looking leather belts for jeans, as well as wider corset styles for loose blouses and dresses.

"People are really wanting corset belts," said designer Simi Singh.

Linda Cohen, fashion consultant and owner of Accoda, a contemporary clothing store in Great Neck, N.Y., bought heavily into wide belts that sit on the waist to complement breezy summer tunics.

"I need my accessories to pop," said Cohen, who also purchased handbags in neutral colors of caramel, brown and ivory. "I didn't see a lot of newness in accessories. I was very careful about my buy."

Handbags continued to draw much interest. Gustto showed caramel, tobacco, black and red supple distressed leather satchels with polished gold rivets, while companies like Jones New York, Accessory Network Group and Sondra Roberts updated the classic canvas tote with leather trim and drawstring tops.

Lace made a statement on handbags. Lauren Merkin showed a clutch with a cotton lace overlay, while Laundry by Shelli Segal offered lace satchels with oversized leather paillettes at the Liz Claiborne showroom.

"Lace was very popular for us this season," said Lynn Roberts, vice president of Echo Design Group, which had lace triangle wraps and scarves, among other accessories. "It works because it's pretty and feminine."

Liberty prints are also important for the spring season. Floral-printed fabric was woven through chain necklaces at Alexis Bittar and wrapping bangles at Dame Design, while Look From London showed floral-print footless tights.

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