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Prints gone wild

It's no secret — Atlanta is not the fashion capital of the world. Atlanta is, however, essentially the capital of the South. And here, Southern values still ring true, even in fashion. An authentic Southern gal dons conservative but charming ensembles, never pushing the fashion envelope. She comfortably trots around town in subtle styles that have no intention of stopping traffic, but rather slowing it down.

Take note, debutantes: Traditional prints like madras and polka dots are as much a part of spring style as the once-again-hip strand of pearls. Southern belles' wild alter egos can delight in the fact that these conventional prints have been sexed up for their 2004 debut.

Colors are bold and prints are magnified. Ralph Lauren's madras shorts hug the hips, while Prada's print dresses skim the body. Skirts are slim and hems have risen (ever-so-indiscreetly above the knee). Polka dots decorate peek-a-boo heels like those at Charles David, curve-hugging halter dresses like Mint's lovely multicolored number and, of course, the bikini. These tried and true prints are showing up on totes and evening bags alike, proving that preppy can be sassy, too.

It appears then, that our fair city might be the belle of the ball this spring. I don't foresee many New Yorkers strutting their stuff down Madison Avenue in a pale blue polka dot baby doll dress or an orange and yellow madras shirtdress. They'll graciously wear the pearls, but they'll kindly leave the prints to us.