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Wide belts and geometric gems

By Phyllis FeldkampSpecial to The Christian Science Monitor / March 18, 1983



When it comes to accessories, the obvious priority is a belt. The wider it is , the more fashion impact it will have. From Karl Lagerfeld in Paris to Perry Ellis in New York, the call has been sounded for a corselet-sized belt that hitches in a goodly portion of the midriff and waistline. These cinches go as far as eight or even 10 inches in width. Some are boned to keep their shape; others are contoured to allow for a certain degree of movement.

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What the belt pulls in is often loose and lightweight fabric. Many times the design of the clothes will be such that it is possible to wear them with or without a belt, in the tried-and-true manner of the popular chemise dress. But as the waist is the cynosure of all eyes this season, the accent of a broad belt with an equally large buckle would seem to be indicated. The easiest to wear are the brightly colored satins that wrap the waist without holding it in too tightly.

Next on the shopping list comes the big piece of fake jewelry. Now that everyone has taken to leaving diamonds at home, imposing fake (or ''faux,'' as they are being called) jewels of colored and faceted glass have come into vogue. Cabochons - the smooth, rounded types of stones - are also well regarded.

These large blazing rocks are recommended as earrings (the long pendant kind being especially chic), rings, and rectangular pins. They are also encrusted in cuff bracelets. Outsized bead necklaces were worn in multiples at Oscar de la Renta. The idea of combining the real with the false, proposed long ago by Coco Chanel, still holds. So a matinee length of cultured pearls would be quite compatible with chains of faux gems.

Since the lines of clothes have narrowed down, new silhouettes are highlighted by the sparkle of geometric-shaped glass jewels. A few such pieces would suffice, although some of the models at the New York showings were strung like Christmas trees.

The fashionable alternative is the large piece of lucite jewelry. The most effective accessories at the Adolfo showing were coin-sized plastic earrings from Tegg Designs.

To return to the transluscent glass ornaments, they are also found on handbag clasps and belts, imitating emeralds, rubies or sapphires, often set in art deco designs of pewter-toned metal.

The key hat shape of the season is the wide-brimmed boater worn straight but slightly back off the forehead. It gives the right balance to the wide-shouldered but otherwise slender silhouette. Not every sailor straw comes in black, white, or natural, however. Many have been dyed red, blue, green, or even lavender.

Envelope and satchel shapes predominate in handbags, but the capacious feedbag and many-pocketed shoulder bag will be in good supply. Color - possibly matched to a belt - is news in the handbag category. Sumptuous materials, silk rope shoulder straps, and tasseled zippers are features for dressier occasions.

Gloves have been making a comeback, and although wearing them in warm weather may strike some as an unnecessary bother, others will welcome their return.

The latest in gloves is the antithesis of practicality. Fanciful gauntlets with jet beading, filmy organzas with frilled cuffs, and crochet laces dyed in hot colors are some of the offerings.

Those who elect to wear a strapless peplummed dinner dress are advised to follow the lead of Calvin Klein and complete the '50s look by adding elbow-length colored satin gloves. Or was that the '40s? No matter. When the idea flourished, it was a good one. A bare top needs compensating coverage for the polished look that is now considered essential.