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Price Savvy

With Blouses, White Is Clearly Right

August 28, 1992|PHYLLIS CHACHERE LOWE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Today's white blouse is fit to be tied . . . or tucked . . . or used as a jacket . . . or accented with men's ties or classic pearls.

Why? White goes with everything. And women have known the value of the white blouse for a long time.

Coco Chanel toasted the '20s with her own brand of liberation by bringing the boyish white silk shirt to women (with black tie, no less), and they're still wearing a version of it.

And although Marilyn Monroe didn't invent the white shirt, she did know how to make it sexy. Women can take her lead and skip the first two buttons for an alluring look that at once reveals and conceals, or knot up the ends.

Women can wear any men's shirt as a dress, jacket or wrap for the beach. Or they can select from among many guises and prices, such as these finds:

CLASSIC

The basic white front-button blouse is essential for dressing up or down year-round. Couple a long-sleeved cotton poplin blouse ($34) from the Gap with an old pair of blue jeans and boots, and you have the quintessential casual American look. Gap stores are at the Brea Mall, MainPlace/Santa Ana, Mall of Orange, Mission Viejo Mall, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Westminster Mall, and 18541 Beach Blvd. in Huntington Beach.

Slip on Banana Republic's two-pocket white pinpoint blouse ($42)--the "everybody's shirt"-- with a long, tight, black skirt, and you have the embodiment of the new look for fall--the exceptional black-and-white uniform. Banana Republic is at South Coast Plaza.

RUGGED AND ROMANTIC

Styles that range from rugged to romantic include Modasport's white denim shirt with two-button flap pockets ($78) that can stand alone as a refined frontier look or can be transformed into elegance itself with elaborate button covers. Modasport is at Fashion Island, Newport Beach.

Esprit Collection at South Coast Plaza and Crystal Court adds fun with a tie-at-the-waist style that boasts multicolored buttons and shirring on the sleeves and back yoke ($40).

The romantic shawl collar can be found at Banana Republic in cotton poplin ($48).

FRENCH CUFFS

If you liked playing dress-up with your grandpa's evening shirt, you will love J. Crew's French-cuffed white cotton blouse with black brocade links ($68) or the off-white silk-cuffed blouse ($128), available at the South Coast Plaza store.

Modasport also carries an array of white French-cuffed shirts: a classic cotton blouse with gold brocade links ($119), a double-cuffed version in a point-collar blouse with pearl and gold buttons ($159), and an embroidered collar and cuff for texture detail ($159).

Limited Express offers a white button-up, French-cuffed bodysuit in a rayon/cotton blend ($49)--a coquettish look with black Capri leggings and clogs. Limited Express stores are at Crystal Court, Fashion Island, MainPlace/Santa Ana, Mission Viejo Mall, South Coast Plaza and Westminster Mall.

KNIT

Casual white knit tops are the perfect complement to any sportswear outfit, especially when paired with wide-legged trousers and a crocodile belt and loafers (hey, dream a little). Joan Vass at Fashion Island Newport Beach has a fitted ribbed T-shirt in a fine gauge cotton in short or long sleeve ($68 and $74). Other noteworthy whites by Joan Vass are the short-sleeved polo tunic ($125) and the "classic crew" with long sleeves ($95), both in a cotton cashmere weave.

Simple shirt silhouettes can afford the addition of lots of silver jewelry, so go ahead and layer on the big bangle bracelets, beaded necklaces and hoop earrings. Cloak yourself in confidence with the always-right white shirt, don a pair of tuxedo pants, finger wave your hair and slip your feet into a pair of Dr. Marten's for a combination that is sure to draw attention.

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