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Battle stations; fashion.

Byline: CATHY MAYER

Fashion is ready for battle. Forget girly shapes and colours, action women are making a comeback and it ain't 'pretty' - it's 'utility chic'.

Taking inspiration from Lara Croft in Tomb Raider the new look mixes military details with utilitarian functionality. Key style details include army shirts and vests in tan, grey or khaki, leather or canvas fabrics and big belts and buckles.

There's only one way to win this war - with style. But don't worry if your wardrobe is planned with less than military precision, utility chic is an easy look to put together.

Torri Mundell, fashion editor of She magazine, says as fashion trends go utility is an easy option. "It's not a fussy look. An easy way to incorporate it into your wardrobe is a trouser suit." The structured shapes of military-inspired clothing means utility chic has inspired this season's must-have suit. Mundell describes it as short and boxy.

"Jackets tend to be shorter and a bit boxy, balance them out with wide-legged trousers and it looks great."

Baggy old combats may not be glamorous but it will still make you look like a celebrity, as Mundell points out. "Practically every celebratory I can think of has been seen in combat trousers. Kylie wore Dolce and Gabbana combat trousers for her tour."

Alternatively, as the winter nights draw in one of the easiest ways to wrap up warm is a military jacket. Largely inspired by the Russian revolution of Baltic trends sweeping the catwalks, the military greatcoat is a must for those long, winter nights.

House of Fraser has a long double-breasted military coat for pounds 200 and Dorothy Perkins has a cream and black military coat for pounds 70.

Gap has a military jacket for pounds 58. Any military jacket looks younger jazzed up with some anarchistic badges - you can find fun badges at most music shops.

Parkas offer a less formal take on the military theme. Choose an over-sized designer make for that Kate-Moss model pregnancy look. Mulberry has a green parka for pounds 495.

It all seems so easy but as Mundell warns it is also easy to get it wrong. Flak jackets may look good on a war correspondent like Kate Adie but they are more conspicuous on the high street.

"You will look a bit of a fashion victim if you wear it all at once.

"Be sure just to wear one item at a time. If you wear a flak jacket with khaki trousers you might end up looking a bit like Elma Fudd."

CAPTION(S):

1. Dorothy Perkins' cream and black military coat (pounds 70), red ruffle shirt (pounds 25) and button front black trousers (pounds 25). 2. Dorothy Perkins double breasted blackjacket (pounds 45), cornelli jean (pounds 40) and bibfronted pirate shirt (pounds 25). 3. Gap's Gapstretch essential turtleneck(pounds 34), fitted jean jacket (pounds 39.50) andmilitary jacket (pounds 58). 4. House of Fraser double breasted military coat (pounds 200), Linea crinkle stripe shirt (pounds 50), Linea crinkle full length skirt (pounds 45), Diesel studded belt (pounds 125).
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 8, 2002
Words:512
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