Designer Revives Good Name of Sweaters

Times Staff Writer

Whoever said “go back to basics” didn’t ask Bonnie Boerer. Even the names she gives the sweaters she makes say a lot about what they look like. “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” with a fringe of pearls on the shoulders, is Boerer’s best seller.

“Twentieth Century Fox,” encrusted with rhinestones, is her tribute to Hollywood glamour. And from her new, resort collection, a bright-colored, appliqued “South of the Border” is her hottest ticket.

Cardigan Over Pullover

“Anything to get out of life’s humdrums,” the designer says to explain her style. At the moment she is wearing two “South of the Borders,” the cardigan on top of the pullover, and a wide streak of turquoise under each eye.


She’s a woman of strong opinions. “Southerners are the best kept; they’re perfectly coordinated and manicured,” she has decided after meeting her customers in Texas and Florida. “And they don’t want anything basic looking. They like embellished clothes.”

But in every state Boerer visits, she says, women are throwing away at least one fashion rule. “They don’t want anything they can’t wear 12 months a year,” she says. She’s willing to go along with that, and works with cotton-blend yarns.

It is also her opinion that short skirts are a passing fancy. Market-research projections she has seen tell her long lengths will be back in a big way a year from now, she says. And she doesn’t make short, cropped, fitted sweaters either, despite the trend toward them right now. She decided they’re not flattering.

Fashion From TV

What else women want and don’t want, Boerer discovers by keeping tabs on fashion-conscious television shows. “Women found out they can achieve a lot more by looking feminine than they can by looking like a man,” she says. And men seem to agree. She’s noticed that men who bought her sweaters as gifts chose feminine shades of blue or pink instead of unisex black or white.

These days the economy may shake and shimmy as much as Boerer’s beads. She’s one person who considers that good news. “I started my business during a recession, four years ago,” she says. “In a recession you sell glitz.”

She showed her sweaters at Robinson’s in Woodland Hills.