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Sleek Garments Let Women Stay Warm Stylishly (January 25, 2006)

Fur-trimmed long cardigans are popular. (Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College)
When it comes to winter outerwear, coats and down jackets are the time-honored choices. But this winter, many fashionable women have been sporting knee-length cardigans. The long button-front sweaters are finding favor among a wide range of ages, from teenagers to women in their forties. Cardigans adorned with the fur trim that is a signature element of this year's fashion are particularly popular. Without the bulk of coats or down jackets, long cardigans are more comfortable and give the wearer a more streamlined silhouette. Style-conscious women naturally find these attributes irresistible.

Light Yet Cozy
Long cardigans (or "knit gowns," as some women's magazines are calling them) are a fixture of this winter's fashion landscape. Light yet warm, not too stiff yet not too casual, they are suitable for the office but also look good after five and on weekends. Long cardigans have been popular once before - back in the 1970s, when women wore them with bell-bottom jeans and knit caps to create a hippie look. This winter, however, the cardigans are being paired with skirts or tweed pants for a more feminine look.

The cardigan craze has spawned an array of designs. One particularly hot item is long sweaters trimmed with fur. Loose-knit cardigans with fur-trimmed hoods are all the rage among the young women who congregate in Tokyo's Shibuya district and other youth-culture hotspots. The cardigans popular among this age group retail for around ¥15,000 (about $130 at ¥115 to the dollar). Favorite colors include this year's ubiquitous purple and black, as well as pink and gray.

Long cardigans go with miniskirts and hotpants. (Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College)

The hip-hiding length of this winter's cardigans has made them a hit among women in their late twenties through forties, too. Mature women tend to choose cardigans with a refined air achieved through touches like shawl-style lapels and fur-trimmed collars. These elegant garments are within reach of this age group's pocketbooks at around ¥20,000 (about $175) without fur trim or ¥30,000 (about $260) with fur trim. Printemps Ginza, a department store popular among female office workers, reports that white, beige, and gray are the best-selling colors.

A Sleek Silhouette
Long cardigans never fail to look great with short, slim lower-body garments. Young trend-setters love to wear them with miniskirts, and more adventurous girls are getting the jump on this year's spring/summer fashions by pairing them with hot pants. Meanwhile, women in a slightly higher age bracket are going for a casual yet elegant look by wearing long cardigans with tweed "half pants" (shorts with a hemline just above the knee) or skirts just a shade shorter than the cardigan.

Fur-trimmed hoods or collars draw the eye upward, transforming the body silhouette into a long, graceful column. This shape is much sought-after by women who want to keep warm without sacrificing style. During an extra-cold winter like the one Japan is currently experiencing, people out of the fashion loop might be tempted to urge these women to put on a coat. But those fur-trimmed, hip-covering cardigans are warmer than they look.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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