Q: If you could select one fall dress to wear to work--a dress equivalent of the success suit--what would it be?--K.B. A: I would choose a dress similar to Vogue Pattern 1342, illustrated here, and I would buy or make it in wool jersey or cashmere. Although it's illustrated in the catalogue in pink, I would ignore that color in favor of navy, black, beige or gray. And, like Yves Saint Laurent, who designed it, I would use contrasting buttons--beige buttons for the navy or black, or black buttons for the beige or gray. Many versions of this dress will be available for fall from designers in Europe as well as the United States.
Q: Our Sweet Adelines chorus of 25 women has searched for quite some time for a jacket pattern that will fit--and flatter. The sizes range from a petite 6 to a woman's 44. We would like a fairly easy-to-make jacket. It can be with or without lapels and darts, and it can be fitted or boxy. Can you help us find a jacket to suit our needs?--E.D.M.
A: The unlined cardigan jacket in the current McCall's catalogue (it's Pattern 8996) would be ideal for assorted sizes. Although the pattern is available only in sizes 6 to 18, the 18 would probably fit the woman's size 44 because of its styling. It's not meant to be closed, thereby solving a lot of fit problems. As you may know, when patterns are graded, shoulders do not increase in size in the same ratio as bust lines, waistlines, hips, etc. Perhaps one of the seamstresses in your group could make up a size 18 in muslin form for the larger sizes to try.
Q: I have a brand-new ankle-length skirt that got caught in a file cabinet. It's not only torn at the side seam about three inches above the hem but also grease-stained in the same place. The torn place is jagged, not a nice, neat little rip. I do not want to shorten the skirt. Any other ideas for saving it?--C.F.
A: Many of the new ankle-length skirts have shirttail hemlines. Try cutting away the torn spot by cutting your skirt into a shirttail at the two side seams.
Q: Where can I find a heavyweight 100% cotton sweat shirt? --C.M? A: Will heavyweight sweat shirts made of 93% cotton and 7% polyester do? They're available in the catalogue published by The Country Store & Farm, Route 2, Box 304, Vashon Island, Wash. 98070. They come in raspberry, medium blue or white for $17. The catalogue states that "the colored sweat shirts have been shrunk to size during the dyeing process. . . . The white will shrink to size after hot washing and drying." Sizes include small (34-36), medium (38-40), large (42-44) and extra large (46-48).
Q: I've been lifting weights to add to my upper body strength, and now my upper arms are too big to fit into most dresses in my size. I'm 5 feet, 8 inches tall and a size 10. Can you recommend a dress style--or a specific dress--that would accommodate my upper arms? --L.N.
A: Accommodate your muscles by buying dresses with dolman sleeves or blouses styled with wide-sleeve openings such as those in gym shirts and camp shirts. There's a shirt-dress with deep armholes in the current catalogue published by Shelly's Tall American Beauties, 747 Towne Ave., Los Angeles 90021. It's made of a cotton-polyester poplin in khaki or white, "True Tall" sizes 5 / 6 or 21 / 22, for $79. The fullish skirt measures 32 inches.