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GI Jane

Designers Salute the Troops in an Updated Uniform Look for Fall

July 25, 1996|JOANNA DENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

How to Do It Big

The late Coco Chanel's idea of the perfect daytime uniform was a suit. Her companion jackets and skirts became classics. Now, Karl Lagerfeld designs the Chanel line, and for fall '96 he showed a new uniform--the military suit. Although you might remember seeing the look as recently as the '70s, this '90s version takes a neater, narrower silhouette. In wool khaki, just like the U.S. Army's officer uniforms, it has gold buttons and a gold mesh belt with jewel-encrusted buckle. The pantsuit, $3,285, will be available soon at the Chanel boutique in Beverly Hills. The self belt will be priced at $1,000. The casual square-toed oxford shoes with black laces and toes will cost $500.

Total: $4,785

Ho to Do It for Less

First, march your fingers through the Yellow Pages to the Army surplus store nearest you. While most of the stock in these places is vintage, the military has never been cheap with fabrics, so jackets and pants tend to be in good condition. The Supply Sergeant stores in Hollywood, Burbank and Santa Monica have a selection of military uniforms, particularly in the smaller sizes that can be altered to fit women. With a few nips and tucks from a good tailor, plus a trip to the dry-cleaners, a $49.95 jacket and $16.95 matching pants can become wardrobe staples. We made the belt from gold stretch ribbon found at International Silks and Linens in Los Angeles for $6.95. The buckle is actually a $5.99 costume pin from Marshalls, Studio City. The solid khaki oxford shoes are from Nine West, citywide, for $49.95.

Total: $129.79

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