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Dress fashion shifts to A-lines

The skinny on summer for women's fashion is to work for a casual look but buy coverups that enhance the figure.

It's smart these days to "dress down," not only on weekends but in the workplace as well.

"Women no longer want, or need, two wardrobes to meet their demanding lifestyle needs," says New York dress designer Donna Ricco. "Dresses are a perfect wardrobe solution for the summer days ahead of us."

The spring and summer runway shows in New York were filled with shifts and A-line dresses that could go just about anywhere in great style. Most were short, emphasizing the leg. And most were styled of soft, floaty materials that skimmed the body for an ultra-feminine look, which is also a hallmark of the summer season.

Most women's clothes this summer play up the feminine form in one way or another. To women who want the kind of casual chic that adds up to this season's cutting-edge fashion, designers are saying, "Go figure!"

Forget the oversized looks that camouflage everything _ even good figures for those lucky enough to have them. By wearing clothes that have a frankly feminine, figure-enhancing look, a woman never appears to be thrown together.

Either the shift or the A-line dress is the perfect coverup to camouflage a thick or short waist or to hide wide hips.

Tissue-weight dresses in A-line or shift silhouettes that skim the body draw attention away from problem areas and toward the legs. No matter how body-skimming the dress is, most women need a little help at getting the most mileage out of the dress shapes of summer.

In that direction, many lingerie companies are helping out.

A new label called Go Figure, a division of The INTAPP Group, a New York-based intimate apparel company, has a new line of figure-shaping undergarments on the market. A Chemise Shaper (an all-in-one control slip that makes dresses fall gracefully while tucking the tummy and slimming the hipline) is the ticket for the woman whose legs are her best asset but whose midsection needs some control.

Such a woman should wear short A-line dresses that camouflage her torso. With its opaque coverage, the Chemise Shaper shields the body from the sheer effect of even the sunniest days.

Underseaming at the bra line gives support. Back-seamed panels offer a lift to the derriere. And waistline and hips are slimmed and sculpted with the Chemise Shaper.

For the woman who has a thick waist and fuller thighs and hips, the Unisolver undergarment (a short unitard) is ideal to wear with low-slung pants, pantsuits and floral sundresses.

It works under any outfit as it slims the hips, waist and thighs. A special cotton lining eliminates panty lines, and princess seaming slims the figure vertically. A strategically placed satin panel flattens the stomach for extra hold.

Made of technologically advanced nylon and Lycra, the all-in-one garments give superior hold for the modern woman's summer wardrobe. There's slick summer style and figure enhancement, too, for the hip junior market.

Under his GMS by Georges Marciano label, Marciano pushes fashion to the edge of the envelope with "techno-colors" and 21st-century prints on futuristic fabrics.

Whether going clubbing or checking the ultimate street look, the junior customer can wear awesome body-conscious fashion that will be figure-flattering and won't break the bank.

With its abundance of sheer fabrications, the line is made for layering.

One of the most popular summer styles by Marciano with store buyers has proved to be the combination of a sheer white nylon mesh snap-front blouse and silver stretch satin hot pants, also a hallmark of summer '96 and a thumbs-up favorite with the junior crowd.

Any junior figure could get glowing in this summer sizzler.