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Snazzy, Short Clothes: Dressing to Please Men

March 26, 1987

PARIS (AP) _ Ready-to-wear fashion for next fall and winter, with its saucy, revealing lines, is aimed at attracting men. Gone are the shapeless skirts and heavy draping that may have been comfortable disguises for girls but did little to excite the guys.

Short and curvy describes most of the clothes shown. It’s distressing news for any militant women’s libbers who think sexy is a bad word.

Form-fitting, seductive clothes are rampant, in sirenlike and slinky fabrics for evening, softer wools and jerseys for daytime. From sassy micros at Chanel to sophisticated suits at Givenchy and Saint Laurent, the outfits emphasize female figures and long legs.

No amount of aerobics can transform unshapely legs into great gams for wearing clingy minis. But a good alternative still exists in excellent trouser suits and some pretty maxi skirts seen at some houses. They look great with accordion pleats in jersey, super in flared versions at Scherrer.

″Perhaps a few hemlines will be dropped for American buyers and their customers,″ said Jean Navin, fashion director of Lord and Taylor, who thought the flirtatious evening short dresses were great.

There was a return of the cardigan sweater suit and belted chemise or tunic, great at Yves Saint Laurent. Winding up the week of collections, he managed to give a synthesis of the current fashion mood better than anybody else.

Toppers with the short day skirts included peplum jackets, padded hips - best at Montana - outright classic blazers and duffel coats or bouncy blousons. Shoulders are still usually padded for shape to make the waist look smaller.

To cover up the revealing pulchritude, Paris proposes coats galore. There are excellent long and short redingotes or princess coats with back belts in fabulous fabrics. These include broadcloth, cashmere, mohair and imitation or real leathers and furs, from shiny ″cire″ raincoats to the most lush Persian lamb and mink.

Other coat ideas are swirling babydolls, oval shapes, shortie coats and duffels. Many are so well-cut they could go on for years, as a good investment, even if in new colors like smoky pastels.

The short coat-dress for daytime is Paris’s latest best idea for a working woman, and it even goes out at night in sharp white satin and black velvet, as at Jean-Louis Scherrer. And the hood looks good, most boldly shown on daywear at Ungaro.

For daytime and evening, fabrics are an important story in this array of fetching clothes. Jacquard knits, velvety chenille, animal prints and appliqued beasts look great for bold sweaters and cardigans at several houses.

Synthetics are on the scene in a big way, as many designers now use elasticized and cloque fabrics to make clothes body-hugging, draped and clingy. Stretch fabrics and lame are very big items, even for daytime.

The real wools and silks usually win for lasting appeal. There are acres of Prince of Wales and houndstooth checks and windowpane patterns on broadcloth, plus bright tartans in full-skirted suits, coats fringed scarves.

Party girls may step out at night in everything from Lolita looks to ballerinas or Belle Epoque grandeur.

The most popular item will probably be a peppy and short dance dress with a tight, fitted torso in a lush fabric like cloque silk velvet, a bright, flounced taffeta skirt. This ″Broadway Baby″ style looked best at Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Guy Laroche.

Black is still safe chic, worn to all parties in Paris these days. It is dressed up with sparkling jewelry, shiny ribbons, touches of white satin, splashes of color like a daring hip bow in hot red taffeta.

The bubble-shaped, stiffened skirts with tight strapless or sleeved tops are making news after their debut in couture last summer. A bustle effect is also welcome, but it’s sometimes difficult for sitting down.

Colors for evening include all reds from fuchsia to hot tomato, dazzling neon or royal blues and absinthe greens, precious-metal lames, sunny yellows and amethyst. They look great with black velvet, the keystone of evening fabrics.

A few clues to watch for next winter’s sexy fashions: short skirts are not a ″must.″ In any case, they are best worn with dark or colored tights with matching shoes or good-looking boots.

Memorable accessories are the big toques seen all over town, whether in velvet, Persian lamb or pretty wools at Saint Laurent. Other hat looks to make clothes fun are top hats, shiny turban wraps, saucer shapes for dressy evenings at the Plaza or the Ritz with the short skirts.

Paris is in an optimistic mood, and the message is clear and strong. Look in the mirror, look for good proportions to suit one’s figure, colors to flatter the face. Designers in France have decided women should be females, whether ingenues or sirens, and that is a good thing.

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