NEW YORK -- After the fizz of spring fashions, summer clothes look positively wholesome. These are the styles that will be in the stores in May and June, when vacations and long weekends loom ahead, when attention is divided between surviving in the heat of the city and playing at the beach or in the country.
Designers' solutions are eminently simple. Two of them are offering clothes that are uncomplicated, easy and cool. Isaac Mizrahi concentrates on cotton. Donna Karan alternates between silk and linen.
Colors are quiet, not distracting. At Isaac Mizrahi, there are groups of beige, blue, red and black. Donna Karan likes yellow, white, navy and green.
In the all-American spirit of sportswear, pieces are interchangeable. A white linen tailored jacket by Ms. Karan is quite sober in itself -- or with matching linen pants. It develops a little snap when worn with a short wrap skirt embroidered in white soutache and combined with a cotton blouse knotted at the middle to show the midriff.
Mr. Mizrahi is serious about offering "something for everybody."
Do you prefer short skirts? He has them -- albeit a smidgen longer than they were last summer.
Want to try out some long ones? He has them with plenty of fullness or cigarette slim.
"There's no way we can tell women who have just found out how mobile they can be in short skirts to switch to long ones," he said, reflecting the non-dictatorial understanding mood of designers at the moment. "But women who want a chance to try something new will have an opportunity."
So he has suits with familiar tiny skirts, and suits with skirts that cover the knees. Every designer has pants, narrow or wide, signaling further emphasis on trousers for the next season, the ,, most important of the fashion year, fall and winter.
The reasoning here is that women who don't have a big conviction about which hem length they prefer will turn to pants, a safe solution. Comfortable and convenient, too.
The Karan approach to warm-weather dressing includes loose, easy shapes, like a big shirt that descends almost to the floor, or a poncho embellished with gold hand-painted motifs to wear at home or at the beach. Both are presented over stretch pants.
The shoulder-baring sun dress that can also be dazzling at dinner is another possible component of summer wardrobes. In the spirit of diversity, this is offered in long and short versions, with either slender or full skirts.
The backbone of summer wardrobes is still the suit. To make it look fresh, Mr. Mizrahi offers it with full puffed sleeves or a cool scooped neck. The Karan innovation is a zipper down the back of a jacket with a diagonal fold across the front; other zippers are concealed in the side seam.
The new closures are all in the interest of clarity and smoothness, Ms. Karan said. They also give the jacket the
uncluttered look the designer considers so desirable.
"The perfect summer wardrobe is about simplification," she said. "It's about looking pulled together in an effortless, comfortable way."