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The Times of Trenton Archive COPYRIGHT Š The Times of Trenton 2005 Date: 2004/07/06 Tuesday Page: b1 Section: Features Edition: Size: 514 words Pulling double duty By BARBARA GENESE Fashion Focus In this era of corporate downsizing and personal belt tightening, we need clothes that work as hard as we do. We need clothes suitable for work as well as outside of the office. But having two separate wardrobes is not in most of our budgets. Your social life may take you to a Major League or Little League baseball game, the soccer field or summer concert. Regardless, you will probably feel more comfortable shedding the conservative uniform you wear for work. Many businesses are turning back the clock on casual dress because employees have taken the concept too far. Business casual is not the same as weekend wear. Tank and camisole tops, thong sandals that resemble shower slippers and skirts that stop higher than just above your knee are inappropriate for the workplace. With a little planning, the same level of comfort can be achieved without crossing the code. In a few strategic moves, a lightweight, lined cotton skirt from the Gap ($32.99) can move into almost any environment you need to go. For a professional look, a printed melon flirt skirt that falls below the knee can be paired with a lava (burnt orange) cardigan from Due per Due ($29.99 at T.J.Maxx). Underneath the cardigan is a white tank top with three large air-brushed flowers that coordinate with the print on the skirt (Gap, $16.50). Since most employers find tank tops unacceptable attire, the cardigan covers it up stylishly. The brown T-strap shoes with 3 1/2-inch heels by Naturalizer ($39.99 at DSW) are surprisingly comfortable and perfect for the office. After leaving the office, you can slip into a pair of thong sandals, such as those by Unisa (DSW, $39.99) and remove the sweater. The sweater is one of a two-piece set. The matching shell with rounded neck ($19.99) would look great for work and, later, at dinner.

A denim jacket can be worn over the orange fine-ribbed polo shirt (Gap, $12.99) to keep the chill off at those late-night games. Sans the jacket, the polo and skirt work well on dress-down Fridays. A sleeveless T-shirt similar to the one I found at T.J.Maxx (WilliSmith, $12.99) can be worn for a more dressy, yet casual, look. It's rounded collar and buttoned V-neck looks terrific under a narrow gold chain belt with brown leather front by Ellen Tracy ($12.99). The brown T-strap shoes complement the outfit. Comfort and conservative dress are not mutually exclusive. On impulse, while at the checkout counter at DSW, I picked up a tube of Burt's Bees lip shimmer ($3.10). Burt's Bees has proclaimed itself ``The World's Best Lip Balm.'' And many of its users agree. It is 100 percent natural and the company doesn't test on animals. The lip shimmer is available in neutral shades of champagne, merlot, nutmeg, raisin, rhubarb, watermelon and coffee. It protects your lips and adds a pearlized shine. The color seems to last for hours, at least longer than the more expensive lipsticks sold in department stores that dry your lips. NOTE: To reach Barbara Genese, e-mail or call (609) 989- 5676.

Double duty  

Making your wardrobe work as hard as you do, without breaking the bank.