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Where to start to update your spring-summer wardrobe? Brooklyn’s fashion purveyors have much to tempt the discerning shopper.

At Aaron’s of Park Slope [Fifth Avenue at 17th Street, (718) 768-5400], company president Howard Mankin says he can’t buy enough of the versatile white shirts made of waffle stretch fabric, by the Rayure French Shirting Company.

"It looks great and it feels great," Mankin says of the customers’ responses to the shirts, the new staple of the spring-summer wardrobe, which can go right into fall. Mankin says the shirts can have zippered fronts, portrait collars or wing-tip collars.

"It seems to be positively unanimous," Mankin says of the Rayure phenomenon.

"She can wear it with black pants to go out at night or with jeans. They’re well made, made in France, with long-sleeves, some with French cuffs."

Another trend is the financial sector doing away with dress-down day, Mankin predicts. Aaron’s is now stocking their shelves with more ladies’ suits, with many more to come this fall.

For spring and summer, the one-piece dress is definitely back and "the peasant dressing is still going forward in cotton poplin, cotton voile, some with just shirring on top of shoulder, some more elaborate, with puffier sleeves," says Mankin. Look for funkier prints and more skin showing than in the past - and that goes for grandmothers, mothers and daughters. As an example, he says the rack of clothes by MaxStudio.com has 21-year-old customers looking at the same silhouettes as the 50-year-old women.

An easy way to update your wardrobe is to pick up a few important accessories. Aaron’s is carrying Justine Brooke neckerchiefs made from 1950s and 1960s vintage fabrics [see "Old is new again," this page]. "They’re one of a kind," says Mankin, "and basically you roll them up and fasten them with Swarovski crystal clasps. We show the customer three ways to wear it."

He points out that while for some customers seeing a neckerchief close to the neck on a hot day is unappealing, "this is a new way of wearing them. It’s draped around the neck, not close to the skin."

Another quick fix is a new handbag, says Mankin. "Not your average utility bag that you can throw everything into, it’s the tote that’s in white, has a buckle or cinched."

In addition to the already popular Isabella Fiore’s glitzy-yet-functional line of handbags, Mankin has added DUMBO designer Sigal de Mayo’s Insiders NY line of handbags, which have New York street scenes - including street signage and the Brooklyn Bridge - appliqued on them.

At Foot Fetish [8813 Third Ave., (718) 238-8470], the new accessories boutique in Bay Ridge, chandelier earrings, anything with fringe, belts that tie around the waist, turquoise - the stones and the color, and of course, anything vintage are all must-haves for spring and summer. At Foot Fetish, though, they don’t sell vintage items, they sell purses cut from vintage fabrics of the 1940s and 1950s by designer Glenda Gies.

Of course, as their name implies, the owners of Foot Fetish, Maureen Brody and Deborah Batanjany have a special passion for shoes, and it shows in their displays. Brody was a department manager in Bloomingdales when Batanjany, a police officer, asked her to be a part of Foot Fetish.

"We’ve been friends since first grade," says Brody. "She taught me how to tie my shoes."

Now an adult with an eye for distinctive accessories that haven’t flooded the market, Brody predicts that shoes that wrap around the ankle will be popular. And the shoe duo is especially proud of the cruisewear line from Shellys of London and the fabulous turquoise thong sandal by Faryl Robin.

Brody pointed out that the comfortable shoes are important and in stock, too, demonstrating how the soles of an Enzo Angiolini evening shoe are flexible and can bend. Beauty doesn’t have to equal pain anymore.

As important as staying in style, is having your own, one-of-a-kind style. One way to accomplish this is to patronize local artisans. Foot Fetish sells leather belts with stained glass buckles designed by Bay Ridge artist, Sara Phelan.

Trendsetting clothing designer Yvonne Chu, proprietor of Kimera [274 Fifth Ave. in Park Slope, (718) 965-1313], is still working with silk shantung, but her spring and summer styles have all new colors: "sherbet-tone pastels and really hot pink and orange." Even her silk shantung handbags are in these colors.

Chu says both she and her customers are favoring the versatility of two-piece outfits that can be worn as separates, and that she’s carried that trend over to her special occasion and bridesmaid dress lines. A popular item at Kimera is the "corset-style top, which can be paired with a long, A-line skirt with contrast border." (For the record, Chu says she was designing these long before last year’s "Moulin Rouge" made them popular.)

Cobble Hill designer Bi Li [pronounced bee-lee] is co-founder of the 7-year-old Earth Speaks [(718) 246-1969 and www.earthspeaks.com], an environmentally friendly clothing company. Though their store at 139 Atlantic Ave. is currently under construction, their designs can be seen and purchased on their Web site.

Li’s designs, which employ hand-dyed, organically produced hemp, silk and cotton and have buttons carved from semi-precious stones, are already one-of-a-kind garments. Her classic designs ensure the garment will be in style for years to come.

For steamy summer days, her short, sleeveless meadow dress, which can be tied in a bow in either the front or back, is popular, she said, and "goes very well with any jacket or with pants underneath."

Li says that for spring and summer, her company is favoring pale yellow, lavender and early green (like newborn leaves, she says) - though ash black is always in style.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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