Designers offer ideas for updating wardrobes

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

How can women perk up their wardrobes for fall? That's the question we posed to several top American designers. The ideas they offered include buying a super new sweater, shopping secondhand stores for an old brooch, and getting a pair of shockingly bright stockings.

Bill Blass: ''I recommend a sweater this season. It's the year of the sweater. We've lived with blouses for a long time. We're now showing sweaters with our suits. A new sweater can be worn with a short skirt or with gray flannel pants. Gray flannel pants are favorites for fall. They're so versatile - they can be worn day into evening. A short black sequined skirt looks very much 'in' this season, too.

''Many outfits are loaded up with jewelry. It doesn't have to be costly jewelry. With the simplicity of the sweaters, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings can be scaled on the large size. Most of the necklaces are choker rather than long.''

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Fiandaca: ''Pull out your sweaters and wear them with very dressy short or mid-calf skirts. I especially like the sweater look for restaurant dressing. The other thing is the belt - a new important belt for daytime.

''As far as pants are concerned, women might want to crop their pants to ankle length so their colored stockings show. The stockings should be bright, shocking, and unexpected. They'll make the entire wardrobe look new.

''Another item that'll make a difference is an old brooch. Women may have to shop the secondhand clothing stores for these pins. I plan to show them with my suits and dresses, worn just under the lapel or on the shoulder.''

Halston: ''It's all very individual. For example, the career-oriented woman who lives in the city shouldn't overlook evening fashions. Much business is done over dinner.''

Pearl Nipon: ''Add a wool dress. It can be worn 10 months out of the year. But make it a quality dress - not one that itches. There are lots of different dress silhouettes. The chemise is one look that's comfortable, but I only like it when it's worn short.

''A long, full skirt is another idea. I mean 31 inches, which is below mid-calf. This is wonderful when worn with a long cardigan sweater. And the advantage is that the cardigan can be worn over dresses.''

Betty Hanson: ''How about a fabric coat - one that's done in a brilliant color such as purple? These coats are designed in Roman- candle colors in several shapes and lengths. They certainly will perk up the wardrobe. Another thought is a charcoal Irish-tweed overcoat. This is for the woman who might not want anything as colorful.

''Under the coats, I suggest a new skirt that's trim and sleek. It can be any length. I see the full skirt being worn easily with a cropped waistline jacket. And there are pants, pants, pants - to wear as you like. The trouser pants are pared down, with the straight leg leading them all. We see these fashions as a true American bumper crop of attitudes.''

Donna Karan (co-designer at Anne Klein): ''I think women should think about the fashion essentials, such as a pair of gray flannel pants, a black pencil skirt, or a white blouse. Or how about a fun sweater?

''It's also a good idea to stick to classic colors. We're using black, tobacco, and charcoal. These are the same colors a woman would use in carefully planning a wardrobe. It's important to have clothes that go from the office to dinner. Today's woman is dedicated to style, but not interested in the excesses of fashion.''

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