Hoop dreams

Earrings come in all sizes

They say some people have a keen eye for fashion. Others can sniff out the latest trend. But this season, the nose doesn't know, and the eyes don't have it.

Today, it's all about the ears, baby. That's because hoop earrings -- giant, gold rings that promise lobes of fun -- are the country's biggest fashion accessory.

Hoops are rolling into the action everywhere you look, from runways to TV to style mags where models sport fabulous hoops that make us think of Peggy Lipton in the "The Mod Squad" or Jane Fonda in "Klute."

"A hoop in any diameter is important. The fashion trendsetter will be wearing the large hoop," said Robert Rutkauskas, fashion director for Filene's department stores. "The hoop is really the item for fall."

But why wait for fall? Department stores and accessories shops already have jumped through hoops to get product in the stores. Hoops, from sassy ringlets to plate-size discs, can be had for between $10 and $55. Liz Claiborne, Monet, Steve Madden, Anne Klein II and Nine West all have hoops for between $12 and $18.

"There's a hoop at every price point and every size," Rutkauskas said, adding that textured and faux gem-encrusted hoops will likely be the next wave, building on the current hoop hullabaloo.

"As an accessory, they're great. They're inexpensive, and they express an individuality," said Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion market director for Allure magazine. "Everybody seems to really love hoops. Everybody looks good in them."

The emergence of the hoop earring appears to coincide with a return to a '70s and '80s glam look. Fashion's spotlight on luxury (think "Dynasty," shiny fabric, precious metals and rich Corinthian leather) allows for the return of the shiny hoop.

Today's hoop dreams are being fulfilled by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall on TV's "Sex and the City." Madonna gets hoopy on her upcoming "Music" video. Top model Gisele Bundchen looks so good in hoops, she could have started the craze single-handedly. And Jennifer Lopez turns up the hoop heat on this month's cover of W magazine, wearing Versace fur and gold loops through her bronzed ears.

Can everyone hoop it up? Fashion experts agree that gold hoops work well on every skin tone. And because of the wide variety of sizes available, there are hoops that can work with any hairstyle. Do some experimenting in front of the mirror. And if you opt for saucer-size loops, don't come crying to us if you find it difficult answering the telephone.

What looks good with hoops? Nearly everything -- from fitted blouses and jeans to streamlined suitings and tight little cocktail dresses. Gold hoops are a great accent to all the texture and shine we've been seeing in the stores: python, animal print, textured leathers.

"A variety of different looks are happening now," said Laura Cervone, fashion spokeswoman for T.J. Maxx. "There's the '60s peasant blouses; there's '70s dark denim with platform shoes and hoop earrings; and then there's the '80s with lots of leather and gold."

The hoop, like all things cyclical, has simply come full circle.

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