Stars and Stripes from head to toe Fashion: Be a sport. Whether out of patriotism or a sense of fun, go ahead and wrap yourself in the flag.


Red, white and blue bunting is draping a lot more than Independence Day celebrations this July in America.

Patriotic stars and bars grace a line of Bamboo lingerie, which according to the company, "is offering sports enthusiasts nationwide the opportunity to intimately experience the spirit of the '96 Summer Games." This experience can be had by wearing perky high-cut panties styled in an opaque American flag print and sheer red mesh.

It's a banner year for wearing the tricolors, what with every stall, store and mall fanning the flame of Olympic boosterism and nationalism in products such as T-shirts, sneakers, designer sailor suits, tube tops, watches, bibs, barrettes, totes and socks.

Much of what's out there is disposable and forgettable kitsch of the tourist trap variety. However, there are those patriotic color stylings that for decades have been accepted as summer classics.

White ducks, blue blazer and red polo will take anyone through a boating party. Red, white and blue striped sailor shirts are the fresh change in hot weather.

Top designers with strong activewear and sports lines have been doing patriotic colors for years. Tommy Hilfiger, whose clothing sales have taken off like a rocket in the past two years, has built an empire with his red, white and blue label, which has become the symbol of American cool.

Ralph Lauren has dressed Olympians and weekend athletes in patriotic palettes as has David Chu for Nautica.

Large retail chains join the patriotic selling cycle and stores such as Hecht's offer USA logo Polo shirts and jackets and Hilfiger flag T-shirts. J. C. Penney carries official Olympic brand sportswear.

Every July, however, and during American Olympic years, purists and critics raise a flag flap about the propriety of using the stars and stripes as glad rags. They fail to remember that stripes, stars and tricolors are good design motifs and America has these in common with countries as diverse as Chile, Micronesia, Thailand and New Zealand.

A pair of Converse All-Star Stars & Bars sneakers could very well make someone happy. Lucky Brand dungarees with starred and striped pants legs could be the hit of a holiday picnic. They're just play clothes, and this is the month for games and celebrations.

Pub Date: 7/04/96

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