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Squeeze Play : Body-hugging clothes--from slim-cut pants to zip-up skirts and shirts--are shaping up for fall.

August 04, 1995|REBECCA HOWARD | Rebecca Howard writes regularly about fashion for The Times

Like hemlines, proportions for fashions also change, although not as frequently. For the past several years, the shape of pants has been loose to the extreme of pajama silhouettes; jeans have sagged into a seemingly eternal bagginess. But just when you thought it safe to loosen up, new pants are reflecting a more slender shape.

"Along with the long and short of skirt hemlines, silhouettes are also evolutionary. Everything now is more of an emphasis on showing a body under those clothes. The slim pant is at every level--from mainstream to designer," said June Rau, fashion director for Nordstrom, Los Angeles, who added that slim pants are the one item to be purchased for an instant update of fall wardrobes.

In shapes from cigarettes with ankle slits to slimmer cuffed trousers, in materials from wool to satin to stretch, there's a slim pant for everyone, Rau said. Some of the shapes, like pants slung low on the hip with flared legs, recall the 1960s; the more shapely, tailored pants represent glamour from the '40s

Marisa LeBlanc, a sales associate with Bebe in Topanga Plaza, said the formerly prevalent wide-leg men's trousers carried by the store have been replaced by the cigarette-style pants recalling '40s glamour.

"Almost everything is leaner--even the jackets that go with the pants are longer, leaner and more feminine," LeBlanc said. "It's quite different from the menswear looks of the past."

Have we also seen the end of baggy jeans? Jill Lynch, a spokeswoman with Levi Strauss and Co. in San Francisco, said the denim pendulum is definitely swinging.

"The trend is toward glamour for fall. Loose looks big and sloppy, so there is a tightening up of the silhouette," said Lynch, who added that comfort is the top priority of jeans buyers. The 550 and 560 styles of Levi's jeans, which emphasize a comfortable, relaxed fit without a saggy shape--are the company's current biggest sellers.

ZIPPING ALONG: Buttons will always have their place, but lately zippers have run the length of shirts, skirts, dresses and jackets.

"We see zippers everywhere," said Tina Sibulkin, manager of fashion programs at the CaliforniaMart, where designer showrooms feature everything from zip-front jackets and dresses in poly-crepe and poly-knit by XOXO (available at Windsor Fashions, Bullock's and Robinsons-May) to sportswear items by GM Surf, featuring pearlized or iridescent zip-front jackets and miniskirts with offset zippers.

Two retro influences seem to be tugging the zipper trend. One is the mod (read: close to the bod) trend for fall, a '60s and '70s flavor that is adding a hip dimension in both functional and decorative form, including zip fronts with circle rings on a range of fashions, Sibulkin said.

Sofia Pashalidis, with Contempo Casuals in Canoga Park, said zippers not only make dressing easier, but also give a slimmer shape to fashions.

"We have a short black sleeveless dress that zips all the way up the front, and it makes you look 10 pounds lighter," she said.

Another retro trend lends an almost sock-hop feel from the '50s and '60s in short-sleeve, polo-style zip-front shirts for men and women that come in bold stripes and nostalgic argyle prints. The style has sort of a bowling shirt feel, and has been selling well for some time, said Eric Massey, manager of Pacific Sunwear in Topanga Plaza.

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