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Soft, silky, flowing. All adjectives to describe dresses, right? Or maybe cocktail pants. But shorts? Get real. Nope, get ready.

Soft shorts are showing up as separates and as parts of coordinated outfits, which are strong sellers at The Perfect Poppy on State Street in Greensboro. Owner Lois McManus says the concept of marketing a group of tops, bottoms, sweaters and jackets that can be mixed and matched has come to shorts.``It's just easier to put it all together,' McManus says. Her catalogs show outfits featuring shorts made from rayon, soft cotton knits, and linen-looking materials. The shorts by themselves can cost $22 to $39. Add a coordinating top - not necessarily of the same pattern as the shorts - and you could spend up to $75.

``It's a lot of money,' McManus says. ``But it's cheap compared to a lot of the stuff around.'

Pasta Store in Four Seasons Town Centre will stock rayon shorts, many with a tapered waist, button and zip fly.

``They're very fluid, and they're kind of bouncy,' says co-manager Denise Earles. ``They have real full legs, so you've got a lot of play in them.'

Many of the shorts will have matching jackets made of a heavier, textured rayon. The jackets have short waists and long sleeves, and they dress up the outfit nicely for a night out, Earles says. The shorts' cost alone would be about $36. With the jacket, the cost would go to $90.

Some of the shorts are cuffed, while others have a straight hem. Earles says both styles look good with hosiery and flats or just flats.

Full-cut legs are the rule, whether the material is rayon or more tradition shorts fabric.

``We're carrying a lot of the twill shorts with the larger leg,' she says, adding, ``denim shorts are in again this year.'

As far as length goes, the hems will be hovering around the mid-thigh or lower mark.

Janice Clemons, manager of the women's department at Bernard Shepherd, says her store will offer soft, cotton knit shorts, as well the more traditional styles.

City shorts in rayon and linen blends will be popular with matching bomber-style jackets, she says. Colors will be on the subdued side, with a lot of solid white and khaki. Typically, the city shorts have cuffs, a tapered waist, two side pockets and a zipper front.

Other traditionally styled shorts will be enlivened with floral and madras prints.

Jungle prints with bright greens, purples and fuchsia won't be unusual, Clemons says, although the basic look of the shorts won't be as wild.

``The industry has left it real conservative,' Clemons says. ``They're making a lot of florals, but not really a new style.'

She looks for most of her shorts to sell for $49 and up.

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