Cathy Moca, owner, AMY PRIDE, Greenville, S.C.:
"Women are looking for lighter-weight fabrics. Rayon skirts are doing well, especially long and slim looks. Cottons are popular, especially basic white. Also, there's a trend back to basic wool pants and skirts. Designers really pushed earth tones for spring. Mustard and olive did well this fall and should go forward into spring. Our bestsellers include a gold foil outfit by Marissa Christina. Other manufacturers that have sold well include Robert Scuff and David Brooks, which are very traditional looks. People love unique sweaters, such as those by Michael Simon, because they are like collectibles. In accessories, belts have been doing well, but I think earrings are the most important accessory. We have also seen an interest in long chains, crystals, and pearls as long as 64 inches."

Jeanette Aland, owner, VILLAGE SPORTSWEAR, Mountainbrook, Ala.:
"Long hemlines have definitely caught on with Southern women, but a small percentage of our customers like them short. Right now, we're selling a lot of silk suits. They are perfect for our climate because they're seasonless. We can't sell wool here, because it isn't that cold. Black is still popular, but taupe and brown have been strong neutrals. Matching outfits and suits sell best for us, because our customers want pieces that go together."

Judy DeWalt, Atlanta sales representative, NATURAL DISCOVERIES:
"Retailers tell us that the Southern woman still wants color, especially after age 40, and isn't buying neutrals. They are also buying lightweight fabrics. Nobody buys heavy fabrics anymore. Long hemlines are big in the South, except for younger women, who wear both long and short. I have seen a lot more hats than I used to, and I'm still seeing a lot of chokers. It takes time for a trend to catch on in the South."

Inez Holden, Atlanta sales representative and designer for BUBBLES LTD. by Line Z:
"Today's woman isn't as inclined to dress in the "Dynasty" style -- she wants functional, comfortable clothes and is very price conscious. Even eveningwear is more casual, with wide-leg pants as a popular option. Texture is becoming very important. For example, the waffle fabric or thermal underwear look is in and selling well. As for accessories, women want bolder jewelry to go with more subdued clothes. Longer chains and pearls are popular. As a sales representative and a manufacturer, I've learned to listen to my customers. Women are more educated about buying than designers give them credit for."Steven Shields, sales manager, SPECTATOR, a New York dress manufacturer:
"Velvet has been very strong for us, with lots of reorders. Southern women are wearing longer 32-inch hemlines. Silhouettes are longer, softer and more fluid. Southern women will be buying bright colors for spring, although most designers are showing neutrals. Popular fabrics for spring are rayon and linen, and georgette is growing. "

Ricky Sels, sales manager, LAUNDRY, a New York contemporary sportswear manufacturer:
"Neutral tones are important because Southern women want style and sophistication as well as color. They want a designer look that is affordable. Comfort dressing is the rule -- they're buying easy silhouettes, such as drawstring pants -- except for holiday, when the feeling is definitely dressy. The difference between Southern and Northern women is not as big as most people think. Southerners tend to be more practical about spending money, although they like to have something new for every occasion."

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