Q:I'm looking for a spring dress that will accommodate my 34-27-33 figure. As the measurements indicate, my middle is too thick for the rest of me. I know that prints are big fashion news for spring, so if you could solve my figure problems in a print dress for late day into evening, I would be doubly thrilled. Please comment on accessories that are especially good for prints. What jewelry? What shoes?
A:The best dress style for your figure is a waistline-skipping chemise. The one illustrated here is a stylized tropical print design by Gianni Versace for Genny. Follow the Milan designer's lead and accessorize your print dress with simple, black plastic bracelets and hoop earrings, with or without flashes of rhinestones. Versace started a new trend by covering sandals and pumps with the same fabric as the dress--an idea last afoot in the '50s. If you like the idea and don't mind cutting off some of the hem of your dress, ask your favorite shoemaker to cover at least part of your shoes in the same fabric--one strap of a sandal, for example, or a band on the vamp of a pump. The dress and matching shawl, not pictured, are available at Theodore, Beverly Hills.
Q:I have a black rayon dress with a cowl neckline and fairly low-cut back. The skirt is straight and has a tiny belt. I'm enclosing a rough sketch. Can you come up with a way to lengthen it? I have looked everywhere for that type of fabric, but so far, without success.
A:Create a tunic look by wearing a five-inch band of black satin or black velvet over your dress. If like a more daring approach, wear it over a flounce of lace, taffeta or tulle, in black, white, shocking pink or purple.
Q:Where can I purchase deerskin shoes? I've looked in all the local stores, but none of them stock these shoes.
A:Deerskin shoes for men and women are featured in the current catalogue of L. L. Bean, Inc., Freeport, Me. 04033. For women, there are two-eyelet oxfords with scooped wedge rubber soles priced at $39.75. They come in tan or navy, in women's whole and half sizes 6 to 10AA and 5 to 11B. Or, you can buy deerskin slip-ons with rubber soles in a scooped wedge design--same sizes, same colors, same price. Men's oxfords are $48.75, mahogany or tan, sizes 7 to 13 medium and 7 to 12 wide. Men's slip-ons are same price, same sizes and same colors plus bone.
Q:I feel that I got stung in buying my last fur coat. Are there any guidelines I should follow before I set out to buy a new fur? Of course, I know I should deal with a reputable furrier.
A:I took your question to Paris couturier Philippe Venet, who designs for Maximillian furs. He says to shop for a fur the way you would shop for a new car--collecting information on types of furs and searching the fashion magazines for styling trends. Venet says that you should lift the lining and feel the skins to make sure that the leather is soft and supple. "Do select the very best fur of its kind," he urges. "Remember, better a great raccoon than a poor-quality mink. Remember, too, that you should not purchase a fur unless the seller assures you that he will repair, maintain and store the coat for you."
Q:Please help me get rid of the tattletale gray in my once-white sweat shirt and sweat pants. I've tried washing them all by themselves, I've used bleach and I've put them in the sun. They're still dingy. What should I do?
A:Dye them. Bright colors are the big news in active sportswear, so follow designer Claude Montana's lead and dip your sweats in orange, shocking pink, lime green, lavender or taxicab yellow.
Q: Where can I buy the Biflex panty girdle? I have always ordered from Wm. Block Store in Indianapolis, but it no longer carries the line. This girdle has an action-back piece and is absolutely great for anyone with back problems.
A: Biflex is associated with a company called Berlei, U.S.A. For more information, write to the company at 183 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
Q:Which is correct--14-karat gold or 14-carat gold?
A:The Gold Information Center says that karat is correct. They say that most jewelry in the United States is 14-karat or 18-karat gold, which means that it is 14 (or 18) parts pure gold (per 24 parts), with the rest alloy. Pure, 24-karat gold is generally considered too soft for use in jewelry. A carat is a unit of weight for precious stones and pearls, equal to 200 milligrams. Marylou Luther welcomes questions for use in this column. She regrets she cannot answer mail personally. Send your questions to Clotheslines, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.