Originally created 05/02/00

Hot Fashion

Anyone who has spent a summer in the Augusta area knows one thing: It'll be hot and humid come June.

So how do you stay cool -- but look hot -- in the upcoming months?

It's all about cropped pants, bright prints and light fabrics.

Natural fiber fabrics such as cotton and linen were made for sticky summer weather. But don't throw out the polyester yet; advancements in the manufacture of synthetic material have improved its wearability.

"It's real lightweight and doesn't wrinkle. They're blending it with cotton, rayon and Lycra. These fabrics breath better and feel better on the skin," said Lynn Horseman, owner of Village, a new boutique in Surrey Center. Village carries trendy styles from clothing lines such as To the Max, Tag Rag and Sharagano.

Capri pants are still popular, as are cropped pants with side, front or back slits. The length is anywhere from below the knee to the ankle, said Mrs. Horseman.

For taut bodies, halter tops and "handkerchief" tanks (identified by a V-dip in front) show off sun-kissed skin.

Skirts are staying longer, either to the knee or at midcalf. Following the trend in two-piece dressing, halter tops are shown with matching sarong wrap skirts.

Cool prints -- from retro to ethnic -- are also strong for summer. Influences from Japan, India and Mexico are seen in hand-blocked prints or peasant-style blouses.

"The styles are '70s- and Oriental-influenced. People got tired of black and gray and were ready for color and embellished, fun clothes," said Mrs. Horseman.

Beads, feathers and embroidery have been tacked to the hems, sleeves or necklines of cropped pants, skirts, dresses and blouses. Feminine ruffles are also making waves.

Accessories have gone "wild" with animal prints and snakeskin. The twist is in color, such as a slide-in sandal made of orange pony hair or strappy sandal in blue snakeskin.

For guys, whose summer uniform may be a T-shirt and shorts worn with sandals or sneakers, a funky Hawaiian print shirt over a bright T-shirt adds color. Although layers may seem impractical when the temperature hits 100 degrees, it's actually the opposite.

"Layering helps keep sweat from bleeding through...that's what undershirts are for," said Dallas Murphey, co-manager of Structure in the Augusta Mall.

Versatile pants that "rip off" at the knee with Velcro or zippers also help keep you cool. Some pants have tabs inside the leg to roll pants up to 3/4 length. Cargo pockets are on just about everything, Mr. Murphey said.

For guys and girls who can't forsake their jeans even when the temperatures rise, dark denim is the way to go.

"It's the new black," said Mrs. Horseman.

Dark denim is soft and often comes in stretch fabric. Another denim trend is the frayed look with waistband removed. Accessories such as handbags and shoes have also taken a denim turn, with embroidered or stud accents.

Reach Margaret Weston at (706) 823-3340 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.


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