Transparent dresses a perfect cover-up

August 25, 1994|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I was unlucky enough to be born with very fair skin, and unluckier still to have a mother who let me play in the sun.

The result is a sprinkling of ugly brown freckles on my arms and shoulders. I hate them so much that I always cover up -- even on occasions when everyone is wearing strappy slip dresses. What I want is something that makes me look bare, but still keeps me covered up.

A: You could experiment with transparent body suits to help hide your freckles. Or try Paris designer Karl Lagerfeld's skin dress. He designed it to conceal and reveal at the same time. He first did the dress for spring in black and then enlarged the collection for fall.

Lagerfeld says, "The degree of transparency alters with the fibers -- including cashmere, wool and silk -- that are blended with the Lycra.

"We call the skin dress the 'screen of modern decency.' It acts like a lining under everything, and yet is glamorous when it shimmers on bare skin.

"It makes layering fun. You can pair it for day with a jacket or vest and for evening with a bare tunic.

"I've done it in many colors and shapes, so you can layer one, two, three or four in different colors for any effect you want. It gives something different to fashion, as it is so light.

"It is unpretentious and it is comfortable. It gives a physical approach but no flesh is displayed."

Q: Why do clothing sizes vary so much? I am amazed each time I try something on in a store. I consider myself a size 10, but the sizes that fit me vary from 14 right down to a 6. It's tiring and such a waste of time trying on the different sizes.

A: Burt Hunton, owner of Wolf Form Co., a maker of clothing forms for designers, has several explanations for varying sizes:

"I think it could be a psychological game designers play. Women may actually be a larger size, but designers put a smaller size on their tags.

"The other explanation is that no one can make clothes that fit the masses. So a woman who is a size 8 with one designer might very well be a 4 with another."

Q: I'm 12 and everyone tells me I have a keen sense of smell. My mother even complains about it. When I grow up I want to work with perfumes because I love the different scents of flowers.

My uncle says I could become what they call a "nose." Is being a "nose" a real profession? And if so, how do I become one?

A: Calling from Paris, Annette Green, president of the Fragrance Foundation, explains that a "nose" is a person who has the ability to retain an odor memory bank of the 5,000 recognized fragrance notes (ingredients) used in perfumes.

"A 'nose,' much like a composer, can create a harmony of those notes in his or her mind's eye -- a fragrance harmony," she says. "Becoming a 'nose' usually means having some kind of chemistry background and studying at one of the perfume schools. But there are only two or three of these schools in the world.

"You may choose instead to become an apprentice for a perfumer. If you go this route you need to be strongly committed to your career. The apprenticeship period ranges from 10 to 15 years."

Q: If you have a suggestion for me, I'll be grateful for life. I am 5-foot-3 and have shoulder-length light brown hair.

I am a businesswoman, age 29, but at first meeting some people think I am only about 16. What can I do with my hair that will be fresh and modern -- but make me look more mature so people will take me seriously at first glance?

A: "The shorter you go -- without going crazy -- the more professional you'll look, while staying feminine at the same time," says Didier Martheleur of DDA Hair Space in New York.

"To look older and professional, keep it on the classic side. Long on top, long on the sides and short in the back. No layers. Layers don't look professional."

Q: I have recently married one of the most successful businessmen in our city. It is a second marriage for both of us.

Before I met him my life was casual. But now we have to entertain his business associates. We take people out to dinner two or three times a week.

What sort of wardrobe should I build?

A: Start with a black dinner dress, a black dinner suit and then a two-piece beautiful evening dress in black.

I'd choose a black lace blouse with a tulle skirt. Those should cover all occasions.

The little black dress should be simple, but a knockout. You must feel you look great in it. Accessorize with a simple string of pearls, a fabulous broach or a pair of gold hoop earrings.

You can dress up the dinner suit with the black lace blouse, or dress it down with a white tank top.

Another option is wearing the lace blouse with the suit's skirt. Adding an important pair of earrings will make it very dressy.

That will give you the foundation for a chic and very flexible evening wardrobe.

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