Style Watch

UPDATED 11/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

Piping Hot

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

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