Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


      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.


                                      previously Clotheslines column below


             Q: Dear Marylou:  Do you really believe that corsets, corselets and bra tops are going to be worn by the women of #MeToo, as some big designers have offered?__ N.N., New York, NY.

       Fernando Flores illustration for New Femininity

        illustration by Fernando Flores

        Dear N.N.:   I think this outing of the boudoir is all part of the new femininity.  Make that the new all-inclusive femininity.  This does not mean looking like a Victoria Secret model, especially if you’re wearing designer Phillip Plein’s black leather bustier over a yellow turtleneck, black pants and white cowboy boots.  
       If that sounds a little too runway and not enough real life, you might want to consider wearing a bustier over that little black dress in your closet, as shown in our illustration.


            Q: Dear Marylou:  Astrology seems to be trending as a fashion inspiration.  As a Libran, what should I be wearing and not wearing?__ S.R., Denver, CO.

            Dear S.R.:   I took your question to some Libra designers for their views.
            Despite the fact that astrologers say the color purple is the color for Librans, Libra designer Isaac Mizrahi says that Librans are too moody for one color or one set of colors.  Libran Donna Karan believes she once lived in the l6th Century, during the time of the Medicis.  Ergo her fondness for Renaissance colors.  Libran Ralph Lauren says he’s managed to achieve equilibrium (Libra is the sign of balance) ascribed to those born under this sign by evaluating alternatives, measuring style by lifestyle (I love this idea), incorporating elements of the past by putting them together in a new way.  Example:  His cowboy overtures that always seem to play today.
          My comment on the effect of current fashion trends on Librans: Only an out-of-balance Libran would wear a dress or skirt with an asymmetric hemline—a currently trending asymmetric hemline.

       Q:  Dear Marylou: Designers born under what zodiac sign have the most influence today?__ H.A., Cleveland, OH.

             Dear H.A.: Here’s a selective list of today’s designers’ astrological signs:  Aries: Marc Jacobs, Demna GvsaliaCancer Giorgio ArmaniVirgoTom Ford, Stella McCartney, Zandra Rhodes and the late Karl LagerfeldLeo Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, both deceased.  SagittariusAlessandro Michele of Gucci                

       Q: Dear Marylou: Do fashion editors really give ideas to designers?  If this is true, isn’t it against all journalistic codes of objectivity?  And doesn’t it belie the fact that a reporter is not to become part of the story he or she is covering?  As a budding fashion journalist, I look forward to your comments. __N.A., Evanston, IL.

             Dear N.A.:  Fashion magazine editors and fashion journalists are two different species.  Or at least they were until recently.  Magazine editors often suggest ideas to designers as part of their mission to drive a look or as a special magazine project.  Some actually “style” a designer’s runway collection.
             Fashion journalists do indeed live by a different code, and their actions are not dependent on advertising from the designers they cover.  (This is getting a little blurry now in some quarters.). Bloggers are known to have been paid to attend certain fashion shows—transportation and accommodations included.

(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.