Moderate doesn’t have to mean matronly, and apparel vendors are out to prove it with a renewed focus on trendier, sexier styles. Lifting moderate out of the doldrums is a common goal among vendors, as the misses’ customer clamors for trendy but practical fashions.

Edgier styles include split-sleeve shirts, ruffles, mesh and sheer detailing on tops and dresses, slender-cut flared skirts, patchwork sweaters, drawstring and hooded jackets and a spectrum of novelty prints, including Asian, retro, tropical and discreet florals.

Here, a sampling of what’s on tap for moderate:

Fashion diversity is driving sales at Apparel World, the Dallas-based moderate company that’s best known for its slinky acetate sportswear. But company co-founder Tanuja Chabra has hired a new designer, Stephanie Knope, to come up with more contemporary styles and expand the line’s fashion appeal.

For spring, Apparel World is showing printed linen sportswear and dresses in softly hued florals, garment-dyed cottons and lots of ruffles.

There are also rayon challis prints in novelty themes, such as black and red cafe scenes, orange and green fruit prints and blue and green safari motifs.

For fall, the company will offer textured knit sportswear in rich earth and vegetable tones, such as eggplant and tobacco. Styles include patchwork sweaters, drawstring pants, cardigans and hooded jackets.

Wholesale prices start at $15 for a slinky tank top and run to $45 for a floral-print dress.

Lace, ruffles, mesh, novelty prints and Americana-inspired designs are among the spring trends at Jonden by Linda Leal, a New York moderate firm that’s been in business 22 years.

“We’re doing more contemporary styling with our related separates,” said Gina Virgadaula, account executive. “We’re showing split-sleeve tops with boatneck collars, asymmetric hemline skirts, palazzo and capri pants and lots of lace and mesh.”

Wholesale prices start at $12 for T-shirts and run to $35 for novelty ruffled blouses.

Sacred Threads, a dress and sportswear firm based in Gainesville, Fla., for spring will show floral patchwork tops, spaghetti-top dresses and novelty styles such as overalls and ethnic-inspired prints.

Wholesale prices range from $12 for T-shirts to $55 for overalls.

“Stores may be playing it safe when it comes to numbers, but they’re not playing it safe with trends,” said sales manager Michael Peattie. “They want the latest salable trends to entice shoppers.”

A new contemporary label for specialty stores called 20th St. East has risen at Morning Sun, a blouse company based in Tacoma, Wash.

The 15-year-old Morning Sun has long prospered with a department store line of the same name, offering safely interpreted classics and trends.

But specialty stores wanted a proprietary line from Morning Sun to compete against national chains, explained Janet Stahnke, vice president of merchandising and product development.

“The response to 20th St. East has been great,” said Stahnke. “We’re doing unique colors and silhouettes, including two-button henleys, mock turtlenecks, fleece jackets and smaller prints. Colors include periwinkle blue, sage green and natural.”

Both labels will continue to play up embroidery, which has been a Morning Sun hallmark for years. For fall, embroideries include hearts, lighthouses, florals and lots of Americana.

Wholesale prices range from $7 for printed T-shirts to $18.50 for fleece jackets.

“Three easy pieces” is the theme for spring at Moonlight, a misses’ dress and suit company.

Long, flowing jackets, easy-fit skirts that hover around the knee and relaxed blouses constitute the company’s three-piece ensembles, said Connie Pae, owner and president of the Los Angeles-based company.

Moonlight’s suits are typically cut from Tencel or rayon chiffon. Colors for spring include white, sage, lime, orange, indigo and pink.

Wholesale prices range from $45 for a dress to $110 for a three-piece suit.

Nigerian tie-dyed cotton batik dresses and separates are the focus at Nnamdi African Origins, a 16-year-old company based in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“Stores like my line because it’s not something that’s available from just any vendor,” said owner and designer Nnamdi Ibenagu.

For spring and summer, Nnamdi African Origins is showing pink, purple, gray and indigo tie-dyed batik dresses, T-shirts, skirts, tank tops, blouses and shorts.

Wholesale prices are from $17 for T-shirts to $89 for lightweight jackets.

Nnamdi African Origins is found in specialty boutiques and museum stores, including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

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