Byline: Kristin Larson

NEW YORK — Whether it’s a ruffled blouse, cropped pants or a turtleneck, separates continue to play a key role for the better crowd.
“With the workplace being a more casual environment, the customer is voting for looks that are more versatile,” said Anne Cashill, director of corporate design and merchandising at Liz Claiborne Inc.
Trends that are expected to perform well this spring run the gamut from feminine with lingerie details, lace and sheer being important, to classic and patriotic.
“Our big ideas were Americana,” said Christa Michalaros, president of women’s wear at Tommy Hilfiger. “We feel that’s number one and we always feel that way — very patriotic, signature prints and bold graphics.”
Other key looks include cargo pants and wide-legged cropped pants, skirts and denim in a variety of washes, Michalaros said.
Jackwyn Nemerov, president and chief operating officer at Jones Apparel Group and chief executive officer of better sportswear at the firm, said Jones expects success with lace, ruffles, softer silks and mesh, especially with its Nine West division.
“The whole fluid knit dressing, whether matte jersey or lightweight knit, will be important going into spring,” said Nemerov.
In addition, she expects Lauren by Ralph Lauren to continue to be a top performer based upon the consumer’s fondness for classic dressing and the line’s signature emblem and crest.
Colors are not as bright as last year, but rather are done in shades of sophisticated neutrals, such as camel, navy and black, said Susan White, president of knitwear manufacturer White and Warren. While classics are still strong, White said the items need to reflect new trends.
“The basic turtleneck has to have something else going on, like a fresh new detail,” White said.
Ninette Ricca, president of City DKNY, summed up the three top trends for the first half of the new year as: romantic and feminine, ethnic-peasant looks and nautical. The all-American red, white and blue also are expected to trend well, she said.
“Last spring, the focus was on tailored career suiting,” Ricca said. “Our line has evolved and what we find season after season is that women turn to us more for separates.”
Following the separates theme, Debbie Burdi, president of Me Collection Inc., said midcalf skirts, pants and tops should perform well. In addition, she said, “Being in a war time will bring back military-style jackets, retro knits and feminine Forties-style prints and tweeds.”

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