Preppy Revival

Break out that dusty edition of The Preppy Handbook -- and brush up on dainty duds for spring's hottest styles -- with a twist.

Bright, shocking colors are spring 2004's hallmarks. But what styles will these fab flavors adorn?

Carolyn Moss, fashion editor of The Tobe Report (the bible of the fashion industry), predicts that "preppy with a twist" and "girly feminine" will be hot styles, driven by an interest in leaving behind jeans, business suits and business casualwear in favor of fun, frivolous and flirty silhouettes.

"Dressing up is slowly coming back," Moss says. "Women may not do it every day, but they might dress up once or twice a week, and the best way to get back into it is adding soft details."

In Northeast Ohio,˛racks from Nordstrom to Target are full of styles that celebrate the softer sex. Ribbons, ruffles, embroidery, silk flowers, uneven hemlines and flouncing fabrics are everywhere.

The continuing popularity of Chanel influences many of these designs, Moss says. Chanel's unconstructed silhouettes and bouclé fabrics translate well across all grades of fabric, size and style. "The Chanel look is very feminine and it has all the cachet of high style, whether it's trimmed with fringe, braided trim or embroidery," observes Moss, who adds that the trend should continue through fall/winter 2004.

Ωhose of you who recall "The Preppy Handbook" will want to revisit the fashion chapter for spring 2004's "preppy with a twist" trend. "It's not the same old boxy polo shirts you remember," Moss says. "The tops are more tapered, slimmer and feminized with softer fabrics."

üocally, you'll find grosgrain belts, lots of pink with green, seersucker suits, madras shorts and espadrille pumps. High-end retailers Anthropologie at Eton, Knuth's in Pepper Pike and Rocky River, and Sweet Threads in Solon all embrace the trend for spring. Many local department stores and specialty boutiques also carry duds with an '80s flavor.

Similarly, the trench coat is on the hip rebound. Once again, it's not the traditional mackintosh of days gone by, but an updated, high-fashion rendition of the classic. "Last season, we saw a lot of interest in alternative jackets and the trench coat is the result of that popularity," Moss says. She adds that designers are turning out trench coats with novelty detailing such as embroidery, prints and plaid fabrics in a variety of lengths.

Locally, you'll find hip trench coats at Nordstrom, The Gap, Kaufmann's, Target and Dillard's, among many others.

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