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Time for Tencel
In case you don't know what Tencel is, it's a fiber that's showing up more and more on clothing labels. What exactly is it? It's a man-made, eco-friendly fiber derived from wood pulp, so it's considered natural. It's also made in America, which a lot of people like.

"People feel that it travels well. It doesn't wrinkle, and it's a lighter-weight material so it's good for this time of year," said Pat Seitz, of Suzn O', a women's specialty shop in Snyder.

Besides being a good transitional fabric, it's also very soft and flowy -- which a lot of people also like.

Tencel was introduced several years ago, and designers this season are using it for everything from blue jeans and T-shirts to skirts and suits. Sometimes a garment is 100 percent Tencel (pronounced TEN-cell). Sometimes it's blended with cotton or other materials.

And get this: Research shows that wearing Tencel can increase theta waves in the brain by 400 percent, according to a recent news release from the Tencel people.

Theta waves are the brain waves experienced during deep relaxation.

Leaves, leaves everywhere

Colorful leaves are a natural part of fall, but a bountiful harvest of them is spilling over into fashion and home accessories this year. Leaves are a popular motif in sportswear, especially sweaters and other knits; the Lizwear collection by Liz Claiborne has several leafy patterns, for example.

But leaves also are showing up on table linens, bedding and decorative accessories.

Pottery Barn, for one, offers place mats, napkins and runners with velvet leaf appliques sewn onto flax-colored linen. Also available in a variety of leaf designs: sheets, quilts, duvet covers, toss pillows, wool area rugs, even organdy draperies with sheer pockets, which in the catalog are shown holding a collection of autumn leaves.

One more for the mailbox

Banana Republic, the San Francisco-based retail chain with a store in Walden Galleria, now has a mail-order catalog that will be distributed 10 times a year.

Featured items include men's and women's clothing, accessories, personal care and intimate apparel as well as the home collection, which is currently available only in a select number of stores.

For a copy of the free catalog, call Banana Republic's toll-free number, (888) 906-2800.

Barbie by the book

There's a new book out in honor of Barbie's upcoming 40th birthday that fans will not want to miss. "Barbie: Four Decades of Fashion, Fantasy and Fun" (Abrams, $19.95), by Marco Tosa, will be published next month. Those who care more about the fashion part than either the fantasy or the fun will not be disappointed.

It's a biography of Barbie, who debuted in March 1959, but the book also shows her many, many costumes through the years as well as the Hollywood stars and fashion designers who inspired them.

There's Barbie on Page 46 wearing one of Christian Dior's most famous "New Look" designs.

There she is on Page 84 wearing the "Enchanted Evening" dress that mimics the one worn by Grace Kelly in the 1956 Life magazine photograph next to it.

There she is two pages later looking very Jacqueline Kennedy-like in her pillbox hat.

And that's before we even get to the '70s and beyond.

Throw in some fun facts, such as Barbie's full name (Barbie Millicent Roberts) and the amount of fabric it has taken to clothe the entire Barbie clan through the years (115 million yards), and you have one big Barbie book.

And finally . . .

"If you've spent more than 20 minutes on your makeup, that's 10 minutes too long."
Stylist Vincent Roppatte
In his new book "Big City Look" (Cliff Street, $30)