Black and white and striped all over

February 29, 1996|By ELSA KLENSCH | ELSA KLENSCH,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

When I was in my early 20s I had a black-and-white pantsuit that I just loved. Then I married, had two children and put on weight. Now after six months of dieting I am back to my original 130 pounds. As a reward I want to get myself another striped pantsuit. But every time I try one on my husband says I look like a jailbird. Should I give up?

Of course not. A striped pantsuit is young, dashing and always looks modern. That's why so many designers like stripes and keep using them in different width and color combinations.

Todd Oldham is a stripe fan. He points out that "vertical stripes tend to visually stretch the body and make you seem even slimmer. Stripes look great on both men and women."

He adds: "If you find high-contrast stripes -- like black and white -- too eye-catching, look instead for stripes in colors of the same tonality. They are softer, prettier and less conspicuous."

Some other points to consider:

* The wider the stripe the more prominent, so try a narrow one -- a chalk stripe or even a pin stripe.

* If you want a wider stripe, look for one that's uneven rather than straight. It's less of a statement and more feminine.

* And finally, although you don't want too many details on a striped pantsuit, horizontal pockets break the vertical lines and give a suit a certain pizazz.

What are the rules for wearing white in the winter? I recently read that white is a "summer" color and should only be worn from June to September. Is it wrong to wear my white linen shirt under wool jackets for winter?

I asked designer Donna Karan, who wears mostly black all year round, if she felt the same way about white. "There are no rules about white any more," she said. "White is so incredibly liberating, clean, crisp, fresh and bright. I wear it for all seasons." Karan recommends nylon, cashmere and Polartec in the colder months, cotton, linen and silk for the warmer months.

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