California invests in basics

Spring, 1980, heralds the age of realism among California designers. The fantasy dressing of the '70s is part of a bygone era. Inflation and monetary strains have made investment dressing the byword for the '80s.

California designers interpret this sensible approach to fashion through multiseasonal clothes. They are using simple designs, durable fabrics, and basic colors to create clothes that wardrobe a woman for several seasons.

California designer Wayne Chance calls the new fashions "practical, affordable, and usable. The clothes today are understandable," he emphasizes.

Chance likes cotton and cotton weaves for spring and summer. He also prefers pants to skirts, and everyting is easy fit. His pants are side-button pleats or pull-on baggy, and they are matched with silk-screened T-shirts or sleeveless gauze blouses.

Nancy Stolkin uses flexibility as her byword. "Clothes should be good for several seasons. Fashion is not as trendy today. Clothes should be worn as long as the fabric hols up. Therefore, clothes must be more simplified in terms of style and color and flexible as to where they can be worn," she says.

Stolkin likes soft, circular skirts, T-shirt chemises, sun-dresses with cardigans, and baggy pants. To add interest she uses color blocks, sweetheart necklines, bias wrap tops, and maillots. "I love an exaggerated V-back maillot with a pull-on circle skirt for a very today look. In fact, maillots have replaced T-shirts," she notes.

Another designer, Christine Albers, is using plastics to create a "high tech" 1980s look. She likes a plastic jumpsuit, but she also believes in investment dressing.

Albers too has offered a lot of pants, some skirts, and only one chemise dress. Her key shape is A-line, which chiefly means shirts that are slim at the top or one-shoulder tops and pants that flare out at the bottom. She likes midcalf pants, which she calls "cropper pants." Her longer pants flare out above the ankle. All of her designs are "clean, decorative designs," such a black and white combinations that create a geometric effect.

Meanwhile, Irene Tsu for the It Company likes the look of shorter chemises, especially with stand-up "Chinese" collars that can be worn up or down. Worn loosely, the chemise is slimmer and more classic but still a relative to the sack dress, Tsu says. Tsu feels that the primary emphasis for spring is pretty and feminine.

Holly Harp, who has always designed very feminine clothes, agrees that spring is heralding a return to femininity. "The climate is friendly for soft, feminine clothes, and clothes that don't change every season," she says.

Harp uses silk, satin, and chiffon for dressier clothes and cotton jersey for day-time. She interprets femininity in soft, loose, easy clothes for spring. Her pants, for instance, are looser, almost dirndl, in flowing cotton jersey.

Harp also added a new division, which she calls Summertime. The new line consists of less expensive daytime clothes. For spring and summer she includes some cotton jersey loose dresses with whimsical, beaded fruit-cocktail designs. She prefers ribbed cotton for a fresh spring look.

Irene Kasmer designed some "frilly, bouncy, feminine" dresses for spring. Her favorites are soft, flowing skirts, gently belted with ultrafeminine lace collars and trim.

Kasmer has another view of fashion for spring, however. She created "jeanpants" of bright red, turquoise, and raspberry duck and teamed them with bright Hawaiian print jean tops.

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