Slimming separates for larger figures

For a long time, the larger-figured woman simply had to make do. No matter what fashion decreed as "in," she had to do without. But times have changed, and the smart large-size shopper can find up-to-the-minute fashion, sized-right for her.

A few tips for spring/summer shopping based on a recent Roper report indicate that regular-length dresses have almost doubled in popularity since 1977, obscuring the pantsuit and longer skirt. For entertaining at home, women like to wear slacks, sweaters, and blouses. Designer jeans are most popular for special events.

Large-size shop owners explain that their customers are slow to buy dresses, still favoring separates. That's OK. When fashion points to dresses and suit looks, it doesn't mean that separates can't be put together to accomplish the same purpose.

In fact, three-piece combinations can be dynamite. Pair a print skirt with a print blouse, add a plain linen blazer, and you've got a winning combination. A shorter, half-size figure can combine the same skirt and blouse, and add a waist-length jacket (Channel type) or a bolero, for an equally stylish silhouette.

Pants will always be perfect for sportswear. Levi's now offers large-size separates with the comfort of stretch fabric and stretch inserts in waistbands and blazer backs.

Stretch linen is a new fabric that several manufacturers are offering for spring/summer. Koret of California presents a raw silk blazer in their large-size line. It offers counterpart to the velvet blazer, with the same great tailoring and fit.

Each season, large-size shoppers are finding more and better quality sportswear, often with designer labels. New this season, discover clothing from Diane Von Furstenburg, Givenchy, and a myriad of other companies. They offer beautiful garments, such as hand-painted chiffon for summer evenings.

Fit seems to be improving, too. Jeans are a case in point. Just a year ago, it was a wise practice to try on every pair of pants before making a purchase. Today, a size 38 pant or jean varies little from brand to brand. However, it is smart to remember that large-size customers often wear different sizes in knits and woven pants. Also, different styles will alter size and fit. "Baggies" or drawstring waists types should always be tried on.

Cotton gauze is being highly touted as a hot fashion item. Gauze drapes nicely and is comfortable to wear. Often these garments are made one-size-fits-all, so larger women should stay alert and shop in all departments.

Khaki is a versatile color, in poplin, chino, or twill. If you have camel, dip it in light gray dye for instant khaki. Khaki looks great with blue jeans. Combine old and new.

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