11/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST
Want to give a dress extra pizzazz? Pay the piper. Piping—a skinny tube of fabric trimming a garment's edges or seams—is "wild and elegant at the same time," says actress Maria Conchita Alonso. "When you wear a dress with piping, heads turn."
Once the province of T-shirts and sofa slipcovers, piping has made a leap to evening chic. "It can turn a plain cocktail dress into something that can go to a formal party," says designer Pamela Dennis. In a contrasting color, piping calls attention to what's between the lines. "It outlines the curves of the body," says L.A. stylist Deborah Waknin, who has garbed Halle Berry
. But too much can make wearers appear two-dimensional. "Don't go overboard," says Waknin, "or you'll look like a cartoon."
with Steven Cojocaru in Los Angeles and Eve Heyn in New York City