June 28, 1999 12:00 PM

Cuff ‘Em

It’s the latest arms race: stars circling wrists or biceps with substantial cuffs made of anything from leather to diamonds. Ally McBeal’s Lucy Liu calls her silvery cuff (“from some five-and-dime”) a “sexy and sophisticated” way to stand out: “I don’t have to have any other jewelry on.” Castmate Portia de Rossi terms her extra-wide leather band an “interesting alternative” to metal bracelets, while singer Monica says her signature cloth armbands “sort of accidentally became a fashion statement.”

Thank Wonder Woman for the strong-arm tactics. “We’re all trying to look as fierce as Lynda Carter,” says fashion stylist Jeanne Yang. Bejeweled bands—such as the 18th-century Indian ones Uma Thurman wore at the Oscars—echo the elaborate accessories in movies such as Shakespeare in Love, adds jewelry designer Loree Rodkin. “Women are into adornment now,” she says.

Cuffs look best with “a tube dress or a sleeveless number,” says Yang. Just watch out above the elbow. Too-thin or too-tight cuffs highlight flab there, she warns—”even if you’ve got Madonna‘s arms.”

with Steven Cojocaru and Maria Speidel in Los Angeles

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