Sewing up fashion with buttons


On the button There's at least one item hot off the Paris runways that can be yours for just a few dollars and half an hour with a needle -- ornamental buttons. Big, bold, often whimsical buttons are one of the most popular embellishments for spring, a trend inspired by the extravagant couture creations of designers such as Christian Lacroix.

At local fabric shops such as Boutique Fabrics in Randallstown, you can pick up some of the same buttons that you'd find on thousand-dollar ensembles in the stores. Last year's suits and dresses can be instantly updated by replacing the simple, functional buttons with something colorful and decorative.

You can also save money by checking out fashions in inexpen

sive stores where the basic lines or colors of a garment look good, but the manufacturers might have cut down costs by using cheap, plastic buttons -- which you can replace to better effect most economically.

Down to earth

Good news on the price front. Designers are finally coming down to earth about the escalating costs of clothing. Nearly every major designer has added a lower-priced "bridge" line to try to reach those limited dollars that consumers are willing to spend, and now some are taking it one step farther.

Mary Anne Restivo, a favorite with executive women, is replacing her designer collection and her Sport line with one lower-priced line that will debut this fall. According to a recent article in the trade publication Women's Wear Daily, jackets in the current Restivo designer collection are between $225-300, but the new line will be priced closer to $125 and $175.

Expansive ideas

Rather than invest in a completely new maternity wardrobe, Julie Fader Gilbert,marketing manager at Owings Mills Mall, saved money during her recent pregnancy by making the most of flexible items already in her closet. "I had clothes -- like cotton knits with elastic waistbands -- that I just let go and they stretched with me. They were all things that I was getting tired of anyway because they'll never be the same," she says. Following the baby's birth, she was able to use the money she saved to replace the dated, stretched-out pieces with styles from the latest season.

Color sense If you can afford to invest in just one of the new fashion colors, which should it be? Jan Flora, spokeswoman for JC Penney, suggests coral or apple green because they go so well with the spring basics of ivory, black or navy. "I picked coral for myself," she says, "because I have dark brown eyes and dark hair and I don't look good in apple green -- which is great on blondes. Coral can go from more yellow to pink, and for me I needed something in the pink range."

Saving In Style welcomes questions and suggestions. Write = Catherine Cook, Fashion Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. : Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.


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