Softer, longer jackets work with skirts or shorts

ELSA KLENSCH'S STYLE

July 07, 1994|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I'm a businesswoman. Over the years I've collected jackets and suits for work. They all have wide shoulders.

Now with the narrow waif look in fashion, wide shoulders and even shoulder pads are out. What do I look for when I go shopping?

A: It's true, jacket shapes are changing. Shoulders are becoming softer and narrower, but we still have choices.

The master of the tailored suit, Milan's Giorgio Armani, tells me that he believes in the contrast between softness and structure rather than in a particular shape. He recently showed jackets with strong structured shoulders over soft, fluid pants. But he also did a new long jacket that's as unconstructed as a cardigan. Its lack of definition gives it a varied life. It slips easily over skirts, pants and shorts. Keep this new jacket shape in mind when you shop. To give the jackets you already have a fresh look, pair them with bottoms -- skirts and pants -- that have movement.

Q: I wear black stockings all winter to hide my chunky legs. What hose and shoes should I wear with the new pale colors that are so fashionable now?

A: Paris designer Maud di Marco of Ombeline says you have to concentrate on elongating your leg, and the best way to do this is with color -- neutral color.

"Pale shoes with medium to high heels are the best bet. The shape of the shoe should be simple -- a mule, instead of a sandal, with wide straps; an open pump rather than a T-strap.

"Consider the material, too. It should be matte rather than shiny. We are using a suede the exact color of the skin and also transparent fabrics that let the skin show through.

"Wear pantyhose in exactly the same shade or tone as your shoes. Your legs will seem slimmer and longer if you keep the hosiery matte as well.

"For night, try strappy high-heel sandals in the same neutral color. They look very sexy."

Q: I've never worn hats, but I just turned 30 and have decided I must protect my skin from the sun. How do I find a hat that's right for me?

A: English-born Patricia Underwood divides her time between New York and London and sells her hats around the world. She says you couldn't have picked a better time to begin thinking hats:

"Hats for summer are easier to wear than they've been in seasons. That's because they are softly shaped to follow the A-line silhouette of the clothes.

"The most important shapes are the cloche or bonnet, and there are plenty of them around. You'll find them pretty and easy to wear -- with the brim turned up or down.

"When you try on a hat there's one thing to check: See that the width of your cheekbones is in balance with the height of the hat. It's very important that this relationship is harmonious.

"That doesn't mean that a person with a small head can't wear a large brim. It's just that the shape of the crown must be in the right proportion.

"Look for a pale color that flatters your skin tone. Bear in mind the colors of your wardrobe -- particularly the outfits you'll be wearing with your hat.

"Remember, also, a hat that looks good with a short dress won't necessarily work with a pantsuit.

"Finally, with the hat on, walk to a store window or door to see how it looks in daylight. You'll be wearing it outdoors most of the time, and you should be happy about the way it looks in natural light."

Q: I love everything about linen -- the way it tailors and feels on the skin and the fact that it is so cool. But so often at the end of the day my linen jackets look as if I'd slept in them.

Is there anything I can do to keep them from wrinkling?

A: Very little. Linen is linen. You just have to love the look of it.

But the industry has been working to get some of the wrinkles out. Pauline Delli-Carpini of the International Linen Promotion organization says manufacturers have developed softer finishes for linen in the last two years.

"The finishes don't have as much resin. The result is that while the linen is not wrinkle-free, it does wrinkle less.

"When you buy a jacket, avoid anything that looks stiff and crisp and you'll have fewer wrinkles."

Ms. Delli-Carpini also suggests trying linen blends -- linen and viscose, linen and cotton, linen and wool, and linen and silk.

"The real solution," she adds, "is linen knits."

Starting today, Elsa Klensch's Style column will replace Mary Lou Luther's Clotheslines. Ms. Klensch is the style editor of CNN, where she is host of a daily fashion report seen by millions in more than 200 countries. Her column will include answers to reader questions on everything from the glamour of high fashion to practical everyday wardrobe worries.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.