Clotheslines by Marylou Luther

                Q: Dear Marylou: What can I do with my black wool hoodie to take it out of
“the neighborhood”? __
K.W., New York, NY. 

Geoffrey Beene feminized hoodie illustration

 illustration by Geoffrey Beene

                 Dear K.W.:   You can bring it into a new neighborhood by feminizing it with a lace edging, as per this design from the late great Geoffrey Beene.  Just as fashion did a “man up” a few seasons ago, fashion is now are in a “girl-up” mode.  (As well as gender fluid mode, a femme fatale mode, call-girl come-on mode, warrior, debutante, vixen, lady-in-waiting, princess—and other expressions of diversity in sexuality.


         Q: Dear Marylou: Like many of my friends, I have bridesmaid dresses lingering in my closet.  Any ideas for de-altaring a full-skirted pink satin strapless dress that ends just short of my ankles?  Or a long peach chiffon sheath dress with a bustier top? __ N.S.E., Kansas City, MO.

                 Dear N.S.E.:   Cut off the pink satin dress to just below the knees or thereabouts and join the opposites attract mode by cinching it with an oversized rugged leather belt or a cowboy belt.  If that doesn’t appeal to you, wear the foreshortened dress with a jeans jacket or a parka.  
   For the peach dress, cut it in two.  Wear the bustier with a long black skirt or short black pencil skirt.  Wear the skirt with a white T-shirt.


         Q: Dear Marylou: I will only wear clothes made in America of American fabrics and am looking for a man’s leather jacket.  The only ones I see are either not made here or no one can tell where the leather comes from.  Can you help? __ J.J., Boston MA.

                 Dear J.J.:   America’s own Schott Bros., who supplied leather bomber jackets to the U.S. Air Force during World War II and whose Perfecto motorcycle jacket was worn by Marlon Brando in "The Wild Ones”, is a great source for all kinds of leather jackets.  Historic note:  One year after Brando debuted the Perfecto it skyrocketed.  The new love for speed ended the leather-jacket-as-hoodlum scenario.  At least for a time.  To see a range of leather jackets  that meet your criteria, go to


         Q: Dear Marylou: I have a black velvet cardigan jacket with matching tunic and pants.  Are they dated?  If yes, any ideas for renewing? __ A.M., Peoria, IL.

                  Dear A.M.:   Your threesome is definitely up to date.  Velvet is back in the fashion spotlight.  If you don’t want to wear all three pieces together, a black cardigan would look great with a white shirt and black and white striped pants.  A black tunic partnered with a white skirt and a black-and-white tweed jacket would give a more tailored look.  And your black pants can also work under a mid-calf length print dress or white silk wrap jacket.


(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:  I have a white sheath/chemise dress that is too short for my current needs.  Yes, I know short dresses are in.  Any ideas for lengthening?__ M.U., Flint, MI.

Nima Taherzadeh color-banded sheath dress illustration                                                             illustration by Nima Taherzadeh

                 Dear M.U.:   Getting aLong with a short could be achieved by adding a black band at the top and bottom, as in our illustration.  Any color banding would be fashion-worthy.  Or you could achieve the lengthening you want by wearing your white sheath over a knee-length slip in the color of your choice.  Amazon has a great assortment of styles.


               Q: Dear Marylou:  What brand/model of personal iron do you use?  When I attended The Parsons School of Design the teachers all recommended Rowenta irons.  However, the current models I’ve been using either break or smell of plastic.  Do you have a product to recommend?  Or could your readers recommend? __ W.R., New York, NY.

               Dear W.R.:  First off, you should communicate your problems to Rowenta, and they might refund your purchase money or fix the iron that’s troubling you.  Rowenta is still highly recommended by all the iron sources I contacted.  For example, The Best Clothing Iron, sponsored by Wirecutter, a New York Times company, recommends Rowenta DN 9200 Steam Force iron as well as Maytag M400 and Black & Decker D300 Allure.  Ask if they have warranties.
               Clotheslines Readers weigh in here.


                Q: Dear Marylou:  Is the peasant blouse still in fashion?  Or can I wear my old peasant blouse without feeling like a fashion retard?__ M.P., Baltimore, MD.

                Dear M.P.:  As you may have read, this was the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and peasant blouses are part of the scene.
                 If you want to give your peasant blouse a post-Woodstock look, pull your peasant blouse up over one shoulder, leaving the other one bare.  It’s called the one-shoulder look currently trending.


               Q: Dear Marylou:  What’s the latest in fashion sustainability?  I want what I buy to help our planet survive, or at least not to hasten its demise.___G.W., LaGrange, GA.

                 Dear G.W.:  Ralph Lauren is introducing a logo polo shirt, each made from 12 plastic bottles in dyes via a waterless process.  The shirt was produced in partnership with First Mile, an organization that focuses on sustainability.  David Lauren, Ralph’s son and chief innovation officer, says that the company has committed to removing “at least 170 million bottles from landfills and oceans by 2025”.  The Earth Polo, made of machine-washable polyester, is priced at $89.50.


(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.