Forget basics. Even though women will buy carefully, they will be lookingfor novelty and fashion.

The thirst for newness is being driven by a combination of motives: Shoppers want to feel they are getting intrinsic value for their money and feel the need to escape with novelty amid the stresses of financial and personal insecurity.

"Across the board, the customer is responding to anything that’s new or novel," Kathy Bradley-Riley, merchandise manager for sportswear at The Doneger Group, said recently.

"Good fashion items have done well, but overall, business has been tough," she said.

The trends in the moderate and better zones are consistent, regardless of price, said Angela Ahrendts, executive vice president at Liz Claiborne Inc., recently. For spring, Ahrendts forecast that sportswear will be more simplified and streamlined.

"It’s more classic, more refined, there’s a lot of men’s wear influences, kind of like boyfriend classics," she said. "The whole bohemian thing is over and it’s about cleaned-up classics."

Among the key trends expected for spring are cargo pants, zippered pocket details, woven shirts, skirts with novelty hemlines, cotton jackets, twinsets and seasonless fine-gauge sweaters.

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