Attractive and versatile skirts are spring's fashion news

Skirts are fashion news this spring. To select a skirt that is both attractive and versatile, consider the following tips. Gored and A-line garments are more flattering to the average figure than very straight models. The gored skirt is divided into panels that are narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, resulting in a gentle flare. The A-line skirt is seldom divided into sections; the entire garment is narrow at the top and wide at the hem.

Other attractive styles are those with an inverted V-pleat at the center front seam and front-lap wraparounds with a slight flare. The wrap type of skirt is especially flattering to the bottom-heavy figure. The lap gives the effect of a vertical panel, thereby creating the illusion of slimmer hips.

The most difficult styles to wear well are bias-cut, gathered, and border-printed skirts. Bias-cut garments swirl gracefully, but their clingy quality emphasizes every bulge. They are also inclined to sag in the back. Gathered skirts add width where most people need it least, and border-printed fabrics call attention to less-than-perfect legs. In addition, both styles shorten the figure.

Monochromatic garments coordinate with both print and solid-color blouses and are more flattering to the vast majority of figures than checks, plaids, or prints. The most versatile colors are black, white, navy, dark green, gray, brown, beige, and khaki. If you prefer a brighter look for spring and summer, red, medium green, teal, and royal blue blend with almost as many colors as their more neutral counterparts.

The most comfortable fabric for warm-weather wear is a cotton-polyester blend. Such a mixture provides the coolness of cotton without the wrinkling that was once this fabric's greatest drawback.

The best fit is found in skirts that either wrap or have fully or partly elasticized waistbands. Unless waist and hips are in almost perfect proportion, avoid garments with the traditional nonstretching band.

Once you've found a skirt you like, check the following points:

1. Is the hip area smooth and flat? Riding up and wrinkling here indicate the wearer either needs a larger size or a model that is cut more generously through the hips.

2. Does the waistband fall at your waist rather than above or below it? A band that lands in the wrong place is a major cause of discomfort and poor fit.

3. Do all pockets lay flat? Bulging pockets make even the slimmest figure look lumpy.

4. Is the center back seam smooth? Puckering in the region between waist and hips indicates swayback. The wrinkles this common figure fault causes are unsightly and difficult to correct.

5. Will the skirt withstand the frequent washings warm-weather clothes receive? Fabrics that are crisp to the touch generally retain their shape better than their softer counterparts. But avoid garments which are treated with sizing. This is indicated by a powdery dust on the inside of the fabric and is frequently found in cotton and the polyester/rayon blends that are today's substitute for linen. This finish washes out rapidly, leaving a limp garment in its wake.

6. Will the skirt wrinkle? To decide, crumple a corner of the garment in your hands for a few seconds. Then release it and smooth it out. If the creases remain, give this skirt a wide berth.

7. Are the front and back of the skirt about the same distance from the floor? A large discrepancy indicates fabric that is either off grain or was pressed out of shape during construction. The hems of such garments will never be straight.

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