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The top 5 mall picks.gif (16135 bytes)

Written and Illustrated by Kathryn Martinez
I've been to all the stores that are absolutely parts of our lives, looking for the spring-y-est finds I could find.

As promised, I chose five items from each store, mostly based on feel, fit, and color--requirements that I consider musts in everyday dressing.

Here we go.

The Gap First, I stopped at the ubiquitous Gap, where great,   useful jackets can be found for those April showers:

First is a mid-thigh trench coat that looks more like a lab coat. It’s got two front pockets, and its buttons are hidden for a slick look. $78.00, and it comes in grey, black, and pale dusty-yellow.

On the sportier side is a nylon pullover parka, with a panel across the chest, like an extra pocket. The collar is fastened with velcro, which is always fun. $39.00, and can be found in grey, black, khaki, and blue.

Also very rain-friendly is the Gap's hip-length rain jacket with a hood. The inside is lined with that crazy mesh that some athletic shorts are made of. $59.50, and comes in black and fisherman yellow. That’s it for outer gear.
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Next is a fitted, long-sleeved button-down. It’s 100% cotton and extremely soft, but oddly enough has a slight windbreaker material look to it. It comes in an assortment of colors, like white, army green, navy, yellow, khaki, red-orange, pale pink, a wacky floral print, and checked plaid. $38.00.
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Lastly, I spotted cute denim hats on sale for $10.00. One is in a soft rose-colored denim, with an inner lining of beige material. The other is in dark indigo denim, with red stitching and black lining.
Banana Republic Here's the 411 on Banana Republic, where I found a few good tops.
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First up, a long-sleeved button-down shirt. It’s cotton with some lycra for stretch and fit; other than that, it’s pretty basic. Especially inviting is the very sweet lavender color that it can be found in. $48.00.
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I loved this one the most. It’s a rayon/wool long-sleeve T-shirt with a scoop neck. It’s very soft, very thin and  somewhat see-through, just enough to let a bright colored tank top show through. Comes in grey, a lighter grey, and black. $88.00.
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Next up are the knitted T-shirt (above) and tank top (below). Both the short-sleeved T-shirt and the tank have a v-neck, are 100% silk and really soft. T-shirt, $48.00; tank top, $42. Colors: stone, charcoal, and dusky lavender. Both are parts of a sweater set that includes a cardigan, but I'd stick with the tops.
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Lastly, I spotted a great bag in reddish/brown leather. The straps start off bigger at the bottom, and taper toward the top. They’re also a bit stiff; they stand up on their own. $98 for the bigger one, $78 for the smaller one. They come in black, too, but the reddish/brown one is nicer, in my opinion.

Ann Taylor Now, we have a few things from Ann Taylor.
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My favorite item here is a skinny, black leather belt with a very sculptural clasp. $40.00.
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Here, above and below, is a pale, powder blue suit made of linen/rayon. It's really cute and demure, but in that classy Fifties kind of way. The shift dress (above) is pretty standard: sleeveless and fitted, $98.00. The jacket (below) has three-quarter length sleeves and a rounded collar, $158.00
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On sale, I found cashmere scarves for $79.99, because it is still chilly after all. Comes in pale pink, grey heather, and a pale beige.
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Last is a beige silk knitted cardigan with some interesting knit-work going on at the bottom, $88.00.
Club Monaco I found Club Monaco to be a place for clothes with a lot of utility.
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First thing I liked, again because of color, is a tricot cotton tube top. It's grey on one side and red on the other, which means, it’s reversible! $39.00.
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Next are the sweatshirts, which come in white and sweat-pant grey. They have the comfort of that bulky sweatshirt you love to wear, but the way it's cut removes the sloppy factor. $35.00.

Club Monaco is a nice place to find pants and skirts, the kind you see on other people and find yourself staring at, which is what I did to all the sales people. They’re thick, supple and stretchy, but still structured. I especially like their "cone leg pant" in grey, $89.00.

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Also great is the 27" length skirt. Once again, it's got a bit of stretch to it for the comfort factor, and has invisible pockets that are conveniently unbulky, $89.00
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Last, but not least, is a grey, mid-thigh length wrap cardigan to keep you warm on those spring nights, $99.00.
Agnes B Finally to Agnes B., where the first thing I found was this silk polo-shirt.
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The sleeves on this silk polo extend to the elbows. But the best part about it is the color, a pale yellow that manages to be vibrant, but not overbearing, kind of like sunshine. $115.
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Secondly, I found an aqua tank top made of cotton, $36.00. Once again, it’s all about the color.
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Two sibling black canvas tote bags. One (above) is longer that the average bag; big enough to fit a W magazine, or the envelopes from the NY Public Library’s picture collection, $100.00. Its little sister (below) is smaller and costs $58.00.
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The last item from Agnes B is an olive green cotton long-sleeved top with a v-neck. It’s slightly spiffy, but still casual, $75.00.
Well, that’s all for the Top 5. Check them out, and tell us if you like them.
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