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April 14, 1985|MARYLOU LUTHER

Q: Because of my very short waist, most clothing gives me the appearance of a rib on a hip. I'm 45 years old; I weigh 143 and am 5 feet, 3 1/2 inches tall, and my measurements are 34C, 30 and 39 1/2. Could you please recommend clothes that would disguise my figure flaws? I like things on the sporty side.--L.B. A: Follow this advice from designer Bonnie August: "Hip-length suit jackets with vertical details minimize full bust and broad shoulders, lengthen a short waist and conceal tummy bulge." Our illustration of Adolfo's suit pattern (Simplicity No. 6151) shows exactly the same vertical minimizers (the braid trim on the jacket and the double-breasted closure on the vest) recommended by August in her book, "Looking Thin" ($6.95, Rawson Associates).

Q: For years, I've tried to locate pant stretchers--those wire contraptions you insert into pants legs while they're wet, to eliminate the need for ironing. They seemed to have disappeared with the advent of wash-and-wear fabrics. Do you happen to know of a source that has a few pairs of these stretchers?--H.C. A: You are the 3,334th Clotheslines reader to ask that question. And until now, the stretchers have eluded me. I am happy to report that they have been revived and are illustrated on Page 31 of the current catalogue published by the Vermont Country Store, P.O. Box 3000, Manchester Center, Vt. 05255. As it says in the catalogue, "Pant stretchers were lost in the wake of synthetic fabrics. When natural-fiber pants came back, everyone forgot this useful laundry aid--everyone, that is, except dozens of our customers, who kept asking us to find the stretchers again. Well, we finally did." The new stretchers are made of coated, "non-rust" steel. One pair fits all pants--men's, women's and children's. The price per pair is $9.95 plus shipping. For those readers who might not know how the stretchers work, one stretcher is inserted in each leg--the seams lined up along the wire--while the pants are still wet. Both ends of the stretcher slide out until pants are taut. Then, simply hang up the pants and they will dry with perfect creases and a smooth finish--no automatic drying and no ironing.

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.

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