NEW YORK (AP) _ In a move targeting middle-class clothes buyers, Jones Apparel Group Inc. announced Monday it will buy McNaughton Apparel Group Inc. in a $275 million cash and stock deal.

Jones Apparel, based in Bristol, Pa., makes clothes under its own name and under license for Ralph Lauren and Todd Oldham for sale in upscale stores. Jones will also assume $297 million in McNaughton debt.

New York-based McNaughton Apparel sells moderately-priced clothing, including the Norton McNaughton and Erika brands, to retailers such as J.C. Penney and Federated Department Stores.

``By merging with the best company in the moderate business, we are able to accelerate our growth strategy to become a leader in this market segment,'' said Sidney Kimmel, Jones Apparel's chairman.

Jones Apparel will pay $21 a share in cash and stock for each share of McNaughton Apparel. The purchase price is $10.50 a share in cash and about $10.50 a share in stock, based on a fixed exchange ratio of 0.282 Jones shares per McNaughton share and Jones' average share price over the 10 trading days before the signing of the agreement.

Jones Apparel more than doubled its size in 1999 with the acquisition of footwear designer Nine West Group, its 1,000 stores and nearly 200 outlet locations.

Jones Apparel has about 14,000 employees, and most of its products are manufactured by third parties in Asia, Latin America and the U.S. McNaughton has about 600 employees, and all of its garments are made in other countries.

In a conference call with analysts, Jones Apparel officials said they anticipate they will be able to cut costs but did not offer specifics, or say whether jobs would be eliminated.

Wesley Card, Jones Apparel's chief financial officer, said he did not anticipate ``any major restructuring as we look forward in this transaction.''

Peter Boneparth, chairman and CEO of McNaughton Apparel, will lead the combined company's McNaughton apparel division and will become a member of the Jones Apparel board.

Jones stock fell 20 cents to $35.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. McNaughton shares rose $2.47, or 14.2 percent, to $19.87 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.