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Zippers exposed as edgy accessory

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 6:24 p.m.

Sink some teeth into this trend.

Zippers are no longer just devices used for fastening clothing with toothed tracks or spiral, metal or plastic coils that either interlock or separate when pulled.

They are being used as a fashionable component on everything from clothing to handbags to footwear.

“Zippers have become an accessory,” says Suzanne Mauro, a stylist from the East End who is accredited by the Association of Image Consultants International and producer of “Style Everyday with Suz” on PCTV Pittsburgh. “They are no longer hidden behind a flap of fabric. Exposed zippers have become a fashion trend.”

Mauro says to showcase zippers, avoid clashing with an accessory such as a flashy belt. Let the zipper be the focal point.

“You see a lot of zippers being used as decoration,” says Tami Sampson, owner of The Fabric Place Mt. Lebanon, which sells zippers from basic styles to those with rhinestones. “Zipper teeth are being used as trim on garments. They look great down the back of a dress.”

An exposed zipper on the back of a dress or skirt has been pretty popular, says April Lapinski, manager at Cache in Ross Park Mall, and will continue into spring and summer.

“We are also seeing them in the front of tops as decoration. Zippers are being shown more as a decorative piece versus being hidden. They add a lot of style to an item,” she says.

Zippers add texture to jackets, handbags or boots, says Roberta Weissburg, owner of Roberta Weissburg Leathers in Shadyside and SouthSide Works.

“Zippers are fun going up or down,” she says. “Zippers, from a practical side, just make everything easier.

Zippers from the fashionable side can make an outfit more fun, Weissburg says. Wearers should pay attention to a zipper's structure, especially if the outfit has a double-direction zipper — often seen on coats or heavy sweaters where you can zip it upward while sitting or getting in and out of a car.

Zippers have been used to give an edgier appearance in fashion for decades, says Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for zappos.com. In the '90s, zippers on clothing, especially metal ones, were closely associated with the “rock 'n' roll” lifestyle or the “punk” trend.

Bands and bad boys were infamously known for a harder look, and they often chose clothing adorned with zippers and studs to achieve this, Covington says. “This trend still continues today, and zippers, both functional and nonfunctional, can be seen on motorcycle jackets, leather pants, accessories and boots worn by everyone from your everyday fashionista to your street-style cool kids.

“Zippers can totally be overdone,” Covington says. “It is best to choose one item that is adorned with zippers and let that be your standout, focal-point piece while everything else in your ensemble is zipper-free.”

An easy way to incorporate the trend is through accessories. They are the supporting cast to most outfits but have a standout power. Zipper handbags give that edgy statement in the perfect dose, she says.

Zippers on footwear also make a great accessory piece, because they add a little decoration, says Amber Herring, accessories editor for Self magazine.

Zippers are everywhere, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch. “They give a garment a little edge. Sometimes, you will just see the teeth of a zipper on a dress or jacket. Sometimes, zippers are there to make a two-in-one jacket where the sleeves or bottom part zip off. Or, sometimes, you can unzip the zipper at the ankle or wrist. There are even zippers on T-shirts. It doesn't have to be extreme. A little bit of a punk look toughens up the outfit just a little.”

Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director, says zippers are functional, but also can provide a detail without looking too fancy. “It gives a hardness or utilitarian edge to a garment or accessory,” Andrews says, but also can be a “delicate embellishment, which can give a glint of shine.”

“It is kind of cool when you can take a somewhat traditional item like a zipper and give it that little bit of a twist where it is incorporated in an unusual way,” Andrews says. “It's also a trend that all women can find that can work for them. Silver zippers are nice, but a gold zipper gives that feeling of luxury.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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