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May 19, 1985|MARYLOU LUTHER

Q: My girlfriend is getting married in September, and I am to be one of the bridesmaids. I wear a size 5, another bridesmaid wears a size 7 and the third is a size 22. What would look good on all three? The bride has suggested an unbelted dress with cowl neck. The ceremony will be in the morning, so she also prefers a midi length. --S.M. A: The dress illustrated here will look as good on a size 5 as on a size 22. If you--the size 5--can alter a size-6 pattern and if the size-22 bridesmaid can alter a size 20, you're all set, since the size range for this "Dynasty" design by Nolan Miller is 6 to 20. If the size 22 cannot wear this style (McCall's No. 9404), she probably could wear Vogue No. 9238, a similar design. It's a two-piece maternity style available in sizes 8-18. The major difference in the two patterns is that the maternity design has a boat neckline and the Miller design has a high V neck. Both have long sleeves. The dresses could all be made in a silk Jacquard or charmeuse.

Q: Why don't hat manufacturers make women's hats in large sizes? I love hats but, unfortunately, I have a large head and it is almost impossible to find a hat to fit. Men's hats come in large sizes; why not women's? --C.H. A: Award-winning hat designer Frank Olive says he thinks that the standard hat size, 22, will change shortly, and that you'll soon be seeing more large sizes. "I notice when I travel that many women have slightly larger heads--up to size 26," Olive observes, adding that he's been making size 23 hats for models in the Seventh Avenue shows for quite some time and has always offered to fill special orders for large sizes. Olive says that men are offered five or six hat sizes because their hats are not as diverse in style, rarely changing from year to year. Conversely, a typical women's hat collection encompasses hundreds of styles. "If we made all the styles in all hat sizes , it would cost a fortune. We simply cannot afford the investment." Olive, who makes hats that range from size 20 to size 25, says women with heads smaller than the industry standard 22 can be fitted in that size if they "take a couple of half-inch tucks in the inside ribbon, the way their grandmothers used to do."

Q: I was given a beautiful 100% wool cardigan sweater that I love dearly, except for the color. It is a very bright orange-red. I would like to dye it wine, burgundy or another dark color . I have been told by my dry cleaner, who does not specialize in dyes, that such dark colors may not hold in 100% wool. Is he correct? --Z.W. A: Here's the word from Marjorie Tasich, of Rit Dye's consumer lab: "If your sweater's label says dry-clean only, it cannot be dyed. If you have washed the sweater by hand, you can dye it, but not wine or burgundy. Use a cardinal red, rust or chestnut-brown dye to subdue the color, as they are from the same color family."

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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