Bold & Bare


Prom dresses this year reveal the bare essentials. One of the hottest looks is simply showing off skin in strapless gowns, halter tops and backless styles.

The trend is "bold and bare," says Collene Kennedy, director of public relations for David's Bridal. "Sleek lines celebrate youthful bodies."

If you're not ready to make a sexy statement, there are other options. "There is always a place for traditional looks," says Jodi Brooks, market editor for Seventeen magazine. "The Cinderella look never goes out of style."

Just as important is embellishment -- glittery overlays, sequins and embroidery. Colors range from pale to powerful. Some of the most popular include ice blue, lilac, peach, fuchsia and ruby red.

Who sets these prom trends, anyway? Pop stars including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Brandy. "These pop divas seem to be so visual and help create the world of style," says Kennedy. "Some girls look to them for direction."

-- Latease T. Hewlett

Model shares beauty tips

Learn the beauty secrets of a supermodel on Saturday when Niki Taylor comes to the sixth Annual Baltimore Women's Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Taylor, a model for Cover Girl cosmetics, will be on hand at the show to sign autographs and talk make-up.

More than 35,000 women are expected to attend the three-day show, which features medical news and fashion advice from experts, 50 workshops and seminars on a variety of topics, free child care, a concert by Kathy Mattea (separate tickets required) and a chance to win a new car. Don't miss Bridal Showcase night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, when brides-to-be get in free with registration.

The Baltimore Women's Show runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $7 adults, $4 children, free for children under 3. Parking is free. For more information and discount coupons, check or call (800) 830-3976.

-- Maria Blackburn

A story of crowning glory

"Before you go to school, it probably doesn't matter. Even if it hurts when your parents comb it, or it gets long enough to be cut by a woman in a black smock who douses your head with a spray bottle before she snips off your bangs. Even when it is matted with gum or tar from the neighbor's driveway, and a whole hunk of it has to go, I don't think your hair matters until you see yourself in the mirror of your friend's eyes. That's when the trouble begins."

From "Hair: Public, Political, Extremely Personal" by Diane Simon (St. Martin's Press, $23.95) -- M.B.

Positively smashing

Smashbox cosmetics just got a make-over. Products now come packaged in sleek black cases slim enough to fit in even the most packed pocketbooks.

Smashbox's oil-free powder foundation is a must-have. It comes in five shades, never appears dry or chalky, and can be applied wet with a damp sponge or dry with a puff or brush. It costs $32. We also like Smashing Rumor lipstick ($14), a frosted brown- sugar shade that goes with just about anything.

Smashbox cosmetics are available at stores including Hecht's in Columbia or online at --M.B.

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