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April 02, 1993|ROSE APODACA

Strike a Prose

With many designers waxing poetic over romantic fashions, the white poet blouse has emerged as a staple piece to update wardrobes, says Shairee Collins, fashion coordinator for county Nordstrom stores. "It's very feminine, but never overly frilly," she says. Find them with ruffles or lace details, bell sleeves or lattice necklines. They appear in a choice of fluid fabrics--georgette, cotton or rayon--and equally as many moods--classic, sophisticated or hippie. One very fashion-forward model by R' Co. ($34) features a point collar and same-fabric covered buttons.

No Fillers or Additives

Super-duper shoulder pads, which falsely augmented physical images and defined power suits during the yuppie years, have gone the way of other false notions of living high in the '80s. Another season of soft-shoulder jackets in the sober and natural '90s has deemed the linebacker look finished. The new look uses smaller, narrower pads for a clean silhouette--or none at all. So what other falsies will be ousted next?

Putting Your Vest Face

The vest is undeniably the must-have piece in wardrobes this year. Individuals who are into making creative statements are going for artist-rendered styles such as those by Jennifer Irani. She describes her Manic Impressions collection ($120 to $178) as combining Cubism with the bright colors and fun flare of California pop art. The hottest number? The one cut with a "nose" that overlaps the comic face. "That's become my signature design . . .. The one selling the most," she says. They sell at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa, Gimones in Newport Beach and Case Chameleon in Irvine.

Man at His Best

Dressing--as an art, as a way to reflect personal style--is important again in men's lives, says David Schwartz, co-owner of David Rickey and Co. in Costa Mesa. So no surprise that "a lot of the items coming into vogue now were used during the '40s," he says. In addition to French cuffs and pocket squares, men also are paying heed to such gentlemanly accouterments as ballpoint pens, cigarette lighters and hats. "I always take my hat to New York but not because it's cold," adds Schwartz, who will be opening a second store in May, this one in the Big Apple.

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