Cruise Lines : Los Angeles and N.Y. Resort Collections Show Casual Outfits Sophisticated Enough for the City, Right for Most of the Year

C ruisewear. The word suggests a past era, like croquet or cricket. But today's Los Angeles designers use cruise/resort collections as a test. They introduce new styles, see what sells and bring back the best bets for the coming spring and summer lines.

Earlier this month at the California Mart, a Los Angeles clearinghouse for American and European fashion, 5,000 to 6,000 store buyers from 11 Western states and the Orient reviewed cruise collections and ordered styles that will hit the stores in November.

Los Angeles designers' cruise styles are body-contouring, with bare midriffs and shoulders. Skirts are very short and there are plenty of halter tops. Pants and shorts tend to have wide legs. White is a favorite color, of course, often mixed with black this season.

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