Byline: Kristin Larson / Rusty Williamson / Kristin Young

NEW YORK — With spring in full swing, warmer weather sportswear is heating up sales at stores across the country.
“The strongest categories are capris and cropped pants,” said Kathy Bradley Riley, division merchandise manager for sportswear at The Doneger Group. “They’re retailing in solids and prints.”
In addition, Riley cited fine-gauge knit sweaters in prints and solids as well as knitwear in multicolored novelty prints as top performers.
“People are looking for wardrobe updaters and color and prints are ways to achieve that,” she said. “And of course, there’s an overriding theme of anything feminine-inspired.” Here’s what’s selling at a mix of retailers across the country:
Ultrafeminine blazers with puffs or pleats on the sleeves are gaining momentum at Mervyn’s. “Blazers look great,” said a spokesman. “It should bring new life to the whole suit category.”
Items, rather than outfits, such as white woven shirts with lace trims, ruffles, ruching and peasant blouses are performing well at Bloomingdale’s, as well as rayon-blend knitwear and bright colors. “Color is the way people are dealing with 9/11 — they’re not going to wear mourning clothes,” said Kal Ruttenstein, Bloomingdale’s senior vice president of fashion direction.
Capris, sleeveless ruffled tops and embellished T-shirts and denim are moving at Lilly Dodson, a better, contemporary and designer store in Dallas.
Novelty denim and peasant blouses are hot at Neiman Marcus. “Women are buying feel-good clothes, such as beautiful tops to wear with denim bottoms,” said Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director.
Feminine blouses, peasant tiered skirts, embellished denim and novelty knitwear are the hot sellers at Nordstrom. “Customers want to feel alive,” said a spokeswoman. “Fashion is selling and it doesn’t have to mean price — it exists at every level.”

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