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All bets on Bermudas

In case you have missed all the Old Navy commercials, Bermuda shorts are back. Yes, we're talking about those rather odd-looking shorts hemmed slightly above the knee.

And they are not just for elderly English gents anymore, style-watchers say.

"Old Navy -- with its low prices and smart marketing -- is an arbiter of youth dress, so under-25s who ordinarily wouldn't embrace shorts based on turn-of-the-century British military uniforms, are," reports Knight Ridder Newspapers.

American Eagle (shown here), the Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch sell them as well.

Fashion tip

Wondering what shoes to wear with your new Bermudas? Here are some suggestions from www.eHow.com, as reported by Knight Ridder:

* Canvas sneakers, flat leather sandals or loafers -- try athletic shoes for a super-casual look. No pumps or strappy sandals.

* Rich brown loafers will dress up the shorts -- or black ones if your top is black.

* Navy, white or ivory sneakers.

* Wear short socks if you wear socks at all.

Smarty pants (and shirts)

Clothes are getting "smarter," thanks to the new technology companies such as Haggar and Nanotex are adding to fabrics.

"Your tie fights spills. Your shirts repel stains. Your suits ward off wrinkles. Your pants laugh in the face of shrinking or fading," reports the Baltimore Sun.

Eddie Bauer was first, but now clothiers such as Old Navy, Brooks Brothers, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and the Gap take advantage of the Nanotex-enhanced materials.

How does it work? "A chemical treatment causes liquids to bead up and roll off the clothes, without ever penetrating the actual fabric. And although the resistance technology isn't really new, Nanotex has manipulated the chemicals so that adding the protection doesn't affect the look and feel of the clothes," the Sun writes.

And the Haggar Clothing Co. has a line of performance clothing called ForeverNew -- a new line of shirts and pants that are not supposed to fade, shrink, wrinkle or stain.

On the short side

The poncho of seasons past is getting some competition from its scaled-down cousins: the shrunken wrap cardigan, shrug, capelet and bolero. Liz Claiborne, the Gap, Ann Taylor, Eileen Fisher and others all show them.

"Shrugs, long-sleeved sweaters and knits that fasten or drape just below the bust-line, have made their appearance this spring everywhere from the Gap to the set of "Desperate Housewives,' where actresses Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria sported them in back-to-back episodes," observes the Stamford Advocate.

And while many of the abbreviated fitted styles have teen appeal, shrugs and capelets can also be cut more generously and layered over loose-fitting camisoles or silk T-shirts for a more sophisticated look.

These short tops add a little warmth, a little coverage -- and a lot of up-to-the-moment styling.

And finally

"The essence of fashion is its changeability. It satisfies the curiosity, the human drive towards what is new."

Karl Lagerfeld, in "Icons of Fashion: the 20th Century," edited by Gerda Buxbaum (Prestel, $19.95 paperback)