Mid-knee dirndls return bag yours at a thrift shop


Hold on to your dirndls!

Just when you give up on a skirt style and banish it to the thrift shop, designers up and resurrect it. The mid-knee A-line made a strong appearance at the fall collections. Strong as in heavyweight designers. Ralph, Calvin and Donna showed knee-length. Marc Jacobs, who was back in business after a year's banishment, which may have been precipitated by his designer grunge period, did, too. When the old guard and young rebels plug into an idea you can be sure something's up, or coming down.

The fall second-hand benefit sales coming up may be an inexpensive way to stock up and play with the new length. No sign yet that mid-calf dirndl skirts will ever be in favor again, but all things are possible in fashion.

Update on the push-up front:

The cleavage war keeps escalating. Seems like manufacturers won't retreat until every woman across the land puts a false front into her lingerie arsenal.

Latest on the scene are movable gel pouch breast enhancers. They look and feel similar to jiggly silicone implants which plastic surgeons were wont to demonstrate on TV when implant surgery came under fire.

Amoena INTRIGUE breast enhancers can be tucked into any bra, although manufacturers say they work best with underwire models and pass the "hug test" for natural feel.

INTRIGUE pouches retail for approximately $80 and come in two sizes, the smaller to bring flat chests up to average and the

larger for a more showy effect. They're available at Nordstrom in Annapolis. For more scoop, call (800) AMOENA.

Monique is marketing YOU PLUS, an anatomically correct insert made of medical silicone for "projection" for the woman who wants to go up a cup size. Monique's PUSH 'N UP model is a pad to boost cleavage, and the PUSH 'N OUT shell-shaped insert boosts and thrusts. What price shapeliness? They sell from $80 to $180. The specially designed bras to hold the helpers are extra. Call (800) 327-1332 for details.

Vanity Fair has introduced the It Must Be Magic "instant cleavage" underwire bra which boasts engineering, all-day comfort and removable fiberfill uplift "cookies." It retails at $22.

Meanwhile, the folks at Frederick's of Hollywood wonder what all the fuss is about. Their press release gently reminds editors that push-up bras have been their forte since Mr. Frederick debuted the "Rising Star" model in 1948. The current catalog offers 10 different push-up designs, plus silicone breast forms and swim pads.

No reason to take this over-blown lingerie trend very seriously. "Bra Fashions," a fun little paperback from Warner books, plays on the bra theme with clever illustrations by Seymour Chwast showing items such as a Zebra with a zebra front on one cup and tail on the other. A different perspective.

Cartoon chic:

Designer Nicole Miller, the queen of prints, has been dressing mummy and daddy in conversational clothes and accessories. Film legend Mickey Mouse has decorated T-shirts and kid gear for years. They've now turned the generational tables. This fall, Nicole Miller debuts a line of designer kids' wear based on hip prints with names such as Bunnies, Bake, JuJu and Pet Shop. Designs include vests, kilts, baby-doll dresses and T-shirts and include coordinated solid separates. The line is available here at the Pied Piper and sells for between $35 and $85.

The generation that grew up with Annette and Cubby and may have sported Mouse ears has more sophisticated options in keeping with their maturity and success. Mickey is moving up from theme park shirts and souvenirs with the introduction of the Mickey Unlimited line of clothes and accessories and Mickey & Co. designs, which include adult fashion and home accessories. In the works is the M. Mouse label, which will tap into designer looks, with prices from $200 to $1,200. The upscale line is targeted for retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Designs include riding pants, silk georgette separates and cashmere jackets to suit the most discriminating Monsieur Mouseketeer.

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