Clotheslines by Marylou Luther

       Q: Dear Marylou:  One of my favorite skirts ends about 3 in. above my knees.  I want to lengthen it to just below my knees, but although it has a turn-back hem, there’s not enough fabric for knee covering.  You have written before about adding a band of contrast fabric and/or a deep fringe of beads.  Thanks but no thanks.  Any other ideas?__ J.M., Cleveland, OH.

R. Scott French skirt illustration

illustration by R. Scott French


        Dear J.M:   Follow the lead of R. Scott French, who created the look he illustrated here, and make your add-ons look like an integral part of the design.  You didn’t say what the fabric of your skirt is, but think of incongruous bandings as French did when he joined a band of plaid with a band of lace.  He repeated the plaid band at the waistline, which is hidden here by the camisole.  
  By joining disparate fabrics, as French did, your skirt could function day through night.  Think satin with braid, a floral print with gingham checks, polka dots with stripes, etc.


         Q: Dear Marylou:  In today’s ever-changing fashion world, how would you define sexy today?__ N.B., New York, NY.

        Dear N.B:   In a recent extensive, enlightening, totally brilliant study on that subject, Kenneth Richard, founder/owner of The Impression, asked several movers and shakers, “Is sex relevant in fashion communication today?”.
   One of my favorite answers came from David Lipman, who, with Peter Lindbergh,  created some of fashion’s most sensual ad campaigns.  In his words:
   “Sex will always be relevant.  It just manifests itself differently within the social consciousness of our current moods.   If sex is part of the conversation it is a big win for a brand.  If it’s not part of the conversation and is sex for sex sake it will hurt a brand’s connection with their consumer.”
   Based on the responses of Richard's subjects, sex still sells, even in light of recent cultural shifts.  It may be more overt or less overt.  But it must be of the moment.  At this moment, I believe the plunging V neckline that ends at or near the waist is no longer fashion-sexy.  Nor are the bare midriff designs.  Nor are the poke-your-leg-out slices in dresses or skirts.  For what IS sexy now, stay tuned.


        Q: Dear Marylou:  Some time ago you wrote about a bracelet that jiggled on the arm to let you know you have a phone call or text message.  Does it still exist?  Where? __ M.Y., Baltimore, MD.

             Dear M.Y.:   Yes! Rebecca Minkoff, who designed the “notification bracelet” in cooperation with Case-Mate, said she came up with the idea “because I understand the stigma that goes along with having my phone out at a dinner or meeting.”  Made of brass with nickel-free plating, the bracelet notifies the wearer of calls or texts via a Bluetooth pairing with the customer’s mobile device.   The original, created in 2014, was $120.  You can buy it now for $35.88 at Walmart.  Click on jewelry, then search for Case-Mate.


     Q: Dear Marylou:  With the resurgence of pointy-toe shoes, I’m wondering whether or not they are good for the feet.  And whether or not it’s true that one should never wear the same shoes day after day. ___ A.C., Los Angeles, CA.

              Dear A.C.:   I took your questions to podiatrist Dr. Mike Thaker, who says that the danger of pointy-toe shoes is no longer to the feet because the beginning of the point in most of today’s pointy-toe shoes starts beyond the toes, leaving them in fairly normal configuration.  The real danger, he says, is to the arms.  Reason: Falls by women stumbling on pointy toes are one of the major reasons arm fractures are on the rise.
   This expert says that the lasts in shoes vary so much that changing shoes every day, if possible, or several times a week, changes the pressure points on bunions and corns, thereby relieving constant irritation. 


(Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


 ©2019 International Fashion Syndicate


previously Clotheslines column below

   Q: Dear Marylou:  Pants are a big staple in my wardrobe, day and night.  What leg widths are trending?__ E.J.J., Olmsted Township, OH.

Kenth Andersson pants illustration

illustration by Kenth Andersson

         Dear E.J.J.:   In fashion's new munificent mood, there is no one “it” width.  That said, the wide-leg palazzo makes a comeback with several major designers, and the flare-leg pant makes it back from Woodstock as part of the 50th anniversary reboots.
   The vertical stripes of contrast piping in designer Kenth Andersson’s gently flaring pants keeps them on trend with all the stripes lining up for fall.  If you have solid color pants you would like to join the band, create your own stripes with the piping of your choice.  Or create your own tuxedo stripes. 

     Q:  Dear Marylou: As one who wears a size 18W, I’m not sure I should wear wide-leg pants.  Any advice?__ W.K., Hogansville, GA.

         Dear W.K.: Unless they’re black, I say skip the wide-leg movement.  Catalogs specializing in your size range agree with me.  I could not find one pair in your size range.  
   My assumption here is that you would like to look less than an 18W.  I should not have assumed that.  Maybe you just want to look fashionably on the curve and you’re proud of your body.  So pull on whatever pull-ons you like.


     Q:  Dear Marylou: Are pantsuits passé? Even if they are, I will continue to prefer them, mainly because they are comfortable, hide figure flaws and transition easily from office to a night on the town.  My question:  How do I make my man-tailored pantsuits look au courant __ M.M., Kansas City, MO.

          Dear M.M: The idea is to change genders from male to she-male—a girl with a touch of guy.  Begin with feminizing accessories such as a blouse with a pussy cat bow; shoes, whether sneakers or heels, in bright colors or pastels that contrast with the color of your pantsuit; and, if your figure can accommodate, belt your jacket.  And don’t limit the belt to leather.  Depending on the fabric of your pantsuit, you might try a lace belt or a satin cummerbund for night, a colored patent leather or silk sash for day.  If you have some old scarves lingering in your dresser drawer, join a couple—yes, a contrasting couple—and wear them as one tie-on belt.

    Q:  Dear Marylou: I’m on a diet, trying to lose 15 pounds, which will make me a size 12 instead of a 14.  Are there any new clothes to buy that could also be worn when I’m a smaller size?__  T.N., Staten Island, NY.

          Dear T.N.: For casual wear, elasticized and drawstring pants and tunics are your best bet for life during diet.  Loose clothes are very much in fashion now, and the tunic continues.  So do shifts, trapezes and tents, most of which can be belted if you want to show off your new waistline.  If you have to buy a jacket, be sure you get one with raglan sleeves, as their shoulders don’t require a precise fit and can, therefore, accommodate more size variations.  Kimono and/or wrap jackets are similarly adjustable.  So are kimono and wrap dresses.

(Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


©2019 International Fashion Syndicate 


Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields. Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.” She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.