Top designer takes the weight off a working woman's shoulders


September 22, 1994|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I have a great job with a staff of eight. I must look good. And to do that I need jackets with constructed shoulders. They give my body shape and make me look poised and attractive. But now my sister tells me shoulder pads are "out" and soft shoulders are "in." She says that if I wear my old jackets, I'll look out of fashion.

A: This is a question I am asked constantly. Businesswomen who are used to constructed shoulders cannot imagine life without them.

They don't have to. You'll be happy to hear that Giorgio Armani, the Italian designer who put working women into jackets, showed both soft and constructed jackets for fall, saying:

"The point is in the softness of the fabrics and shapes of the jacket at the hem. It is always flared and fluid. I like the blouse underneath to be soft and feminine."

Mr. Armani says he likes his jackets best paired with narrow pants. It's also important that he has moved away from a suit look. He uses jackets, skirts and pants in different fabrics and colors.

So keep your shoulder pads, but mix and match following Mr. Armani's advice. You'll have some refreshing new looks that may even surprise your sister.

Q: I've just been promoted from my company's Latin America office in Miami to our Tokyo office. I

excited by the opportunity but nervous about dressing for my new position. I understand the Japanese are more formal. I want to make a good impression, but I don't have the time or interest to fuss too much about clothes. Is there a particular fabric I could use for the basic pieces in my wardrobe?

A: Japanese designer Yuki Torii seems the natural person to answer your question. She lives in Tokyo but travels constantly, both in Asia and Europe.

RF She says, "Jersey, whether it is pure wool or a blend, is the most

practical fabric. It has body, so it can be tailored, but is also soft enough to drape well. It is crease-resistant, and if it does crease the creases fall out quickly.

"It is practically seasonless. You can wear it on all but the hottest days." Ms. Torii adds that jersey is comfortable since it's a knit and stretches with the body.

She suggests collecting basic pieces in black:

"Black is not only a strong fashion color in Asia but also easy to find. And one more point, jersey looks as good for day as it does for evening." That sounds like good advice for most countries.

RF Q: I am a 42-year-old ex-model. I've had two children since giving

up my career to get married, but believe me, I've looked after my face and my body. Now that my kids are teen-agers, I'd like to start working again.

I wonder how much truth there is in the newspaper reports that older models are "in"?

A: Monique Pillard, president of New York's Elite Models, confirms that older models are being used more frequently. She attributes this to what she calls the "aging population."

"Because the people with buying power are aging, advertisers are turning to older models more and more. People like to see older faces in

fashion advertising. Calvin Klein and Estee Lauder are just two of the advertisers who have moved in this direction.

"However," she cautions, "while there is a trend, it is far from being overwhelming. The modeling business remains, by and large, very focused on youth.

"I'd say that if you are a 42-year-old ex-model, and you were quite well-known, you have a chance. But don't hang your hopes on a renewed career."

Elsa Klensch is Style Editor for Cable News Network. Her program can be seen each weekend on CNN. Check local listings for show times.

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