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Ladies to get all dressed up this summer


The dress will continue to be the key item for spring and summer. Last year, dress sales were up 7%, according to The NPD Group. Marshal Cohen, the chief apparel analyst for the company, said that he sees dress sales being strong moving forward.

“We certainly heard a lot about dresses this year, and it would seem so did the female consumer,” Cohen said. “From what I’ve seen that trend should continue.”

Dresses were seen predominantly on the spring runways of big-name designers such as Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Vera Wang. Cotton eyelets were used for a more romantic effect, and bright prints in greens and blues were seen on the runways of Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg. The trapeze and wrap dresses were popular as well.

“The dress will remain a popular silhouette well into spring and summer,” said Linda DeFranco, senior product trend analyst for Cotton Inc. “It is indeed a women’s wear favorite once again, and reinforces the fact that women want to feel and look feminine.”

Retailers have certainly taken this under advisement as they have unveiled their spring and summer collections. JCPenney’s Web site features a dress “trend shop,” with “bold prints,” “black and whites” and “new knits” as featured hot product areas. In stores, the retailer is featuring yellow sundresses in their on-trend “hot spot” mannequins at the front of their new off-mall stores.

“2007 is the year of the dress, and we’ve gotten tremendous sell-through since putting the dresses out in our ‘hot spot’ location,” said Elizabeth Sweney, women’s apparel gmm for JCPenney, during a store tour at the JCPenney analysts meeting. “Our customers just can’t get enough of them.”

Other retailers are also staking their claim in the dress trend, too. Macy’s is focusing most of its more casual dress collection on shirt dresses, tunics, wraps and trapeze dresses. Black and white patterns such as polka dots, flower and leaf prints are popular as well.

“Spring and summer are about a wardrobe of dresses with a multitude of silhouettes, print stories and fabric options,” said Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s fashion director.

Kohl’s dress selection, with prices starting at $34, includes shirt dresses, belted wrap dresses and a few dresses with empire waists, with fitted shirring along the waistband, in neutral colors like brown, black and grey. Printed geometrics and lace patterns on dresses at Kohl’s are also prominent.

Target offers a variety of smocked dresses with drop-waists or empire waists, with price points ranging from $21.99 to $60. Printed, colorful dresses come in a number of silhouettes: flower prints, geometric shapes, polka dots and wrap-around stripes are all different print options. One of Gap’s best-selling items this season is the “big dot empire dress,” priced at $69.99, with shirring at the empire waist and side seam pockets.

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