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New Chemise Spells "Subtle Sex"

By Martha E. Miller

There's a new shape in women this season, and a new color in men.

The fashion experts tell us that women will have a balloon-shape for formal occasions, and a subtly sexy shape in their afternoon dresses. Men are turning to olive-green for their casual clothes.

It may be all right for the college student to remain in a green book bag during the school term, but as Christmas vacation nears, it's time to see how the other half of the world dresses.

Ladies first!

Mademoiselle calls it a "shift" in shape, Glamour terms it the "middy-look," Vogue announces the "chemise." By any name, the newest fashion in women's dresses evokes memories of what our mothers wore in the Roaring Twenties.

The new line shoots like a falling sputnik past the waist, tightens at the hips, and tapers slimly to the hem. "In a word, sexy," Mademoiselle reports. But if the new look is sexy, it's subtle sex.

No one can tell a woman's exact waist measurements in a chemise dress. But when she walks, it's evident she has a waistline. Similarly the bosom should be "just rounded." Too much of it "can ruin that fine, languid line," the fashion experts say. The attempt is undoubtedly to show that the wearer has a shape underneath her chemise dress, but to do it subtly.

Red's a Stopper

The chemise look is a many-splendored thing. It comes in the one-piece dress, in two-pieces dresses, and in one-piece dresses that look like two. The new subtle shape is available in knitted dresses which pull over the head like a sweater --all in one piece. These have joined the ranks of increasingly-popular knit dresses of all kinds.

Women have copied St. Nick and the traffic departments in picking bright red as the color stopper of the season. Royal blue, kelly green, and black are prominent too. White is always a Christmas favorite, but pastels have somewhat faded out of the picture this year.

Wool jersey matching seperates are naturals for the middy-look. Slim or pleated skirts are mated with jersey overblouses, some hanging loosely at the hips, others elasticized at the hipline. The girl with exotic tastes can even find a mix-match set whose jersey overblouse resembles a Navajo Indian blanket. The blouse has a horizontal design of red, gold and white on a background of loden green, and the skirt is loden green wool. The outfit is manufactured by Dorothy Kerby.

Skirt and sweater novelty sets become more novel every year. Bellciano, Inc., has decorated a black cashmere cardigan with 86 tiny grey buttons. The co-ordinate tweed skirt has 138 of the same little buttons on the front panel. In addition, there are 11 regular buttons and buttonholes to fasten the sweater. The skirt closes with a hook and eye!

Dressy skirts are always popular for the holiday season. There are full skirts of permanently pleated white nylon with bands of black velvet. There are circular wool skirts with embroidered designs. But slim skirts too have taken on the festive spirit. One sees straight velvet skirts, slim tweed skirts bejewelled with a scattering of rhinestones, tweeds with a raised knitted design.

If you have a beau who invites you to cotillions at West Point or Annapolis, or if you have a yen to go back once again to your old school Christmas ball, you had better take a look at what the designer big-brains have done to formals this year If you think the chemise is eytreme. . .

Oriental Harem

One would normally expect a skirt to be narrower near the waistline and get progressively wider until the hem. Well, not any more. The fashion experts have something in evening gowns that they call the balloon look, or the harem style. The latter name is particularly appropriate; one of these creations would feel right at home with Delacroix's "Algerian Women."

The harem skirt, starts getting wider from waist to hem. But it reverses its course at mid-stream, or rather midthigh, and narrows to just below the knees where it is gathered onto a hemband. The circumference of this circular hemband leaves enough room for the legs, but not much more.

However, if you're the type of girl with enough beauty, personality, and guts to go to a dance in an inverted Japanese lantern, by all means do so; you're bound to attract attention. But then, with all that beauty, personality, and guts, you would probably attract attention anyhow.

In a more modified version, the balloon look adds a graceful and bouffant touch to the newest evening dress. On a longer, fuller skirt than the exotic "harem," the ballooning simply means that the hemline is gathered slightly. The effect is attractive--different and eye-catching, but not overwhelming. It's the most interesting innovation in evening gowns in a long time, and will undoubtedly make a hit on the dance floor this holiday season.

Velvet Touch

All socializing and no sport makes Jane a dull girl. Since few moderns take their exercise a la ancient Sparta, the designers have created sportswear for action and relaxation.

Velvet tapered slacks are doing the legwork for the season, with black, red and cobalt blue the leading colors. Also popular are wool, cordoroy, cotton and dacron, and even silk fabrics in slack and toreador pants. Tweeds, stripes, and patterns complete with solids for space on the sportswear racks in the Boston area stores.

On the topside, the dressmaker-style bulky sweater holds forth this year. Cardigans and slipovers with collar accents come in white, black, red, and grey as well as a variety of pastel shades. The patterned ski sweater with pointed collar or turtle neck is also popular, and the crew-necked Shetland is a perennial college girl favorite.

The three-quarter length car-coat is a 1957 headliner. The Vespa and Lambretta girls are so fond of these coats that many people are now calling them "scooter coats."

The Anne David manufacturers have a model in black or natural water-repellent fabric with wool knitted cuffs, collar, and button panel. The most intriging feature of this particular carcoat, though, is the cotton quilted lining.

In the black coat, the lining is black and orange, perhaps in commemoration of this year's Ivy League football champions. Anyway, the design is composed of the shields of Italian city-states-- Bologna, Veneza, Pisa, Lucca, Milano, Firenze, Grossto, and even stormy Trieste. Keep warm and learn geography at the same time.

The lining of the natural-colored model is not quite so unique. The little dots of white, green and black on deep rose resemble hundreds of crawling ladybugs. But at least the color is closer to Harvard's crimson.

Wear a Cliffie

Perhaps aware that the trenchcoat is the uniform of the Radcliffe girl, one manufacturer has produced a coat called the "Radcliff" (spelled without an "e"). The promotion manager obviously did not graduate from Harvard nor from Radcliffe. The coat is a Valmeline Import, made in West Germany.

The "Radcliff" is an unbelted trench-coat in natural color. It has concealed buttons under a front panel, large pockets, and a pointed collar. For extra warmth, it boasts a button-in lining of loden green wool.

For the laundry-bill conscious lass, Stephens has put out a dacron and cotton trenchcoat that is guaranteed washable. It is also wrinkle-resistant. White trench-coats are being shown, too--impractical but awfully attractive.

Trenchcoats are not the exclusive property of the female species. In fact, they originated with the male.

For the Proper Chap

Not only the trenchcoat model, but a variety of raincoats of Egyptian imported (via Britain) cotton are available to the well-dressed man this year. (Macintosh is the brand name to remember). This is of particular interest to the warm-blooded college man who tends to wear his raincoat for a year-round coat.

While women are trying to look like balloons or gunny sacks, men are generally content to look like men.

Crew-necked Shetland sweaters in solid colors are still the favorite in the Ivy circuit. Dark grey continues to be popular, but olive green is the fast-rising color of the season.

Trying to compete with the Shetland, though not always successfully, is the heavy ski sweater in a multitude of variations. Some have that just-arrived-from-Norway look with elaborate design. Others are solid-colored, crew-necked, with only a border design for distinction.

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