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Sportswear Designers Get a Jump on the Dressy Look

November 28, 1986|PADDY CALISTRO

On a crisp, clear evening, 50 guests gathered in the front yard of a refurbished clapboard bungalow on West Washington Boulevard, the artsy shopping street just four blocks from Venice Beach.

The white stretch limousine parked in front of the vintage house was in keeping with the embossed invitations that had drawn the visitors to this show. So were the catered hors d'oeuvres and dry white wine.

Sharp Contrast

Such elegant accouterments were in sharp contrast to the casual clothes that paraded the temporary runway of the house-turned-fashion-design-center, wholesale showroom and retail shop.

Dubbed Dressy Sweats, the boutique houses its namesake collection of jump suits, dresses, coats and jackets fabricated in vivid cotton-and-polyester fleeces and bright parachute nylon.

Before the show, designers Margo Jones and Buffy Ford explained that their newest collection "is elegant enough to wear to the office Christmas party or to pick up next year's Oscar." Some might dispute that any pieces in the collection were suitable for either occasion. That a few of the jump suits were detailed to look like tuxedos and that some of the dresses and coats were floor length was not reason enough for these sweat-shirt-fabric designs to bridge the gap from exercise wear to dressy attire.

But as casual sportswear--easy, fun, wearable clothes appropriate for the aerobics studio, holiday soiree or for watching the Academy Awards on big-screen TV--Dressy Sweats have a niche.

Using the now classic concept that New York's Norma Kamali pioneered several years ago, Ford and Jones have taken a function-first fabric and given it a share of flair.

Unisex Jump Suits

The collection has unisex jump suits, parachute nylon dusters for men and even fleece baseball jackets for the preschool set.

Ford and Jones began designing clothing for themselves in a Malibu garage. After their client list expanded to include Brenda Vaccaro and screenwriter Stirling Silliphant, the pair launched a mail-order catalogue business and finally opened the retail shop in Venice.

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