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FASHION: What's Smart for Spring? : Kicky, Sexy and . . . No Suffering Required

February 26, 1992|ROSE-MARIE TURK

The freshest spring shoes offer various degrees of exposure, so get out the ankle weights, nail polish and pumice stones. Your ankles and feet are going to be seen.

It might be nothing more than a peekaboo glance through latticework straps or mesh inserts. Or it could be the whole nine yards--in a cutout, barely there, high-heel mule.

Any way it is done, the look is kicky and sexy. But it doesn't require the customary sacrifices. Footwear manufacturers are combining fashion with comfort--and keeping their prices realistic. As spring approaches, there are plenty of fanciful, wearable shoes for less than $100.

Despite back-to-basic prices, the fabrics are rich. They range from deliciously colored silks and nubuck (real or imitation suede with a satin finish) to decorated leathers and Lycra. The sensual colors--which include lime, lemon, cantaloupe, watermelon, hot-pink, royal-blue and racy-red--appear in solids or eye-popping combinations that could tempt any footwear fanatic to dress from the ground up.

Despite the freshness, there are nuances of deja vu. Those platform soles, baby-doll toes, little Louis heels, metallic finishes, see-through vinyl and psychedelic hues look slightly familiar. But they haven't been done quite like this. Everything has been reworked with a '90s twist.

Leslie Marks, fashion director for Robinson's, thinks spring footwear is especially exciting because nubuck and silk take colors so well. And she doesn't think those colors or the open styling will keep the shoes out of the workplace.

"You need something to go with all the feminine clothes--whether it's a shirtwaist dress or an hourglass suit," Marks says. "As long as the shoe matches the attitude and proportions of the clothing and isn't too 'sandalized,' it's valid to wear to the office."

She even sees a flat or mid-heel mule, worn with hose, going to work. "If," she cautions, "you have the type of job where you can wear easy, fluid pants."

Marks calls the mule "a good investment," and attributes its staying power--on your foot, that is--to "new generation" construction, which puts more fabric around the foot, anchoring it more securely to the sole of the shoe. As for its continued popularity, she attributes that to a silhouette with "an easy panache and flow to it, which is so crucial to fashion now."

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