If you buy only one new item this season, consider a big shirt

Looming large on the fashion horizon for spring and summer, the big shirt makes capital out of a standard style and gives it wide applications. Whether it's worn as a casual blouse with the tails tied at the waist, as the cover for a bandeau bra and matching Bermudas, or as a filmy organza top for an evening skirt, the big shirt is ready to go almost anyplace, anytime.

Shirt coats, shirt jackets, and shirt dresses are everywhere in all fabrics, colors, and patterns. Among the various choices: Kasper's terra-cotta linens, Issey Miyake's gray and white stripe cottons for his Plantation collection, and the Joan Vass dressy yellow silks.

Rajah styles, Hawaiian prints in the Harry Truman vein, and shirtlike tops for floppy pajamas that are reminiscent of '20s beachwear on the Lido are just a few of the many versions around.

Many of the oversize shirts seem so sporty and relaxed they may look too laid back for serious business hours. But when the materials and tailoring are fine, then even with the cuffs rolled back, the big shirt can look competent. Among the ways to wear it to the office: as a tunic, with a low-placed belt and slim skirt.

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