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Merchandising A State of Mind

DALLAS — Contemporary fashions are not just for young women with taut bodies. They appeal to every age group that wants to look stylish, but the key for retailers is to mix styles and find lines with a fit that accommodates their particular...

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DALLAS — Contemporary fashions are not just for young women with taut bodies. They appeal to every age group that wants to look stylish, but the key for retailers is to mix styles and find lines with a fit that accommodates their particular customers.

That was the opening message of Mary Weston, contemporary buyer for Gregor Simmons Ltd., a buying office in New York, who gave a presentation on spring styles Friday at a seminar during market week at the International Apparel Mart here.

“From the youngest to the most mature women, contemporary is a state of mind and an attitude and how you mix the merchandise,” said Weston, who showed samples from some 80 resources during her talk. “A woman doesn’t want to just go to her closet and put something on. She wants to look like she’s with it.”

Weston touted Chaiken, whose slightly low-waisted pants she was wearing, as a strong resource that delivers a contemporary look for modern women. She also suggested that buyers scope out blouses for all ages of customers, such as styles by Rossanna Diva in a myriad of colors and stripes.

“Shirts are statements in two-piece dressing more than ever before,” said Gregor Simmons, who occasionally added to Weston’s commentary. “Some of our customers are putting in shirt and tunic shops adjacent to their jeans and bottoms area. Blouses are one of the easiest ways to get your ladies updated. It doesn’t have to be tucked in — if you have a little belly it’s great camouflage.”

The pair recommended crinkled blouses from Agostino Martinez, MK Solo and People Like Frank. They also touted tops with embellishment, such as lace-accented pieces by Anne Ferriday, beaded styles from Lance Karesh, lace-up or wrapped looks by Petra Zillia and a twist-front style from Byron Lars.

“Cargo pants can be done in all sorts of ways, they can even be dressed up in satin,” Weston said. “Skirts and dresses will be phenomenal. Pants are on the rise and waistlines are starting to go up, but many lines will still make two rises so you can still get a low rise for a sexy customer.”

Weston suggested that cargo pants, like Bella Dahl’s or NOW’s, worn with a slim halter top were a “very sexy look.”

“Everyone has bustiers and floaty, soft skirts,” Weston told the standing-room-only crowd. “There are lots of eyelets and printed bottoms, but prints are not that busy and a little more spaced out this year. There are a lot of Fifties-inspired cocktail prints.”

In dresses, Weston promoted patchwork-printed styles by Jacki, asymmetric chiffon and jersey looks from Dina Bar-El, strapless numbers with ribbon belts and full skirts by Corey Lynne Colter and sheer bias-cut jersey styles from Bianca Nero.

Denim is far from dead, she asserted, showing FRX jeans and Casadei’s denim yoke and guipure lace skirt. “Embroidered denim is another great trend this year,” Weston said.

Simmons emphasized the importance of leather, even for stores in warm climates.

“In the designer market, there are lots of spring leathers,” she said. “It’s important to have a touch of it because skins are in for spring, and don’t let the fact that you are southern scare you.”

Weston also recommended athletic-inspired knit styles from Be & Shi, and short velour rompers at Beau & Eros.

“With all the short skirts, rompers will follow for your customer who can wear it,” Weston said.

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