FASHION: The American Look

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It was the end of April, and as the soft air turned the land green, American women were suddenly aware of a truth that bursts upon them every spring: Summer was at hand, and they did not have a thing to wear. Therefore, they were out in force in stores last week in search of the cool—and new—clothes to make the hot weather bearable. Tall girls looked for dresses that would make them seem shorter; short girls wanted to look taller. The plump wanted eye-foolers that would seem to take off inches, the thin all wanted to look round, firm and fully packed. The young wanted to look sophisticated and the sophisticated wanted to look young. All wanted to look different than they had ever looked before. And to a woman, they knew exactly what kind of clothes would turn the trick—or so they thought.

At Manhattan's Lord & Taylor, a young housewife twisted in front of a three-way mirror, inspecting a cotton dress. "Just what I want," she said. "Smart, you know, but casual." Said a shopper in Los Angeles' May Co.: "This year I'm going to concentrate on shirts, cashmere sweaters and knit dresses." A determined huntress in

Atlanta's J. P. Allen knew exactly what she wanted: "Casual clothes with a gay feeling."

Comfortable & Colorful. In 1955, more than ever before, U.S. summer clothes are gay and casual. There are Orlon sweaters, dresses in Dacron, nylon and other wonder fabrics in every color. There are dresses of wispy silk and tough denims, terry-cloth shirts, and shorts in everything from calfskin to velvet. Toreador pants, once worn only by the brave (and beautiful), are as common as pedal-pushers and Levi's. One big 1955 craze: sweater-like cotton knits in everything from beach robes to low-priced cocktail dresses.

There are checks and stripes and flowery prints, and even polka-dot underwear. And 1955's summer clothes are flexible, as the result of a continuing boom in "separates." There are a thousand different kinds of blouses that look as well with a skirt at a dinner party as with Bermuda shorts at a picnic. In California, bathing-suit makers Cole and Rose Marie Reid have gone so far as to put out "evening convertibles"—swimsuits that can be made into evening dresses by adding fluffy tulle skirts. Price: $250.

The choice is broad and the fashions varied. But whatever they buy, most American women this summer will have one thing in common: a style that has come to be known the world over as the American Look.

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