Question: What kind of shirt will make my old blazer look believably 1986? I'm a man in my late 30s, and while I don't have a lot of money to spend on clothes I want to stay in style. Because today's menswear is fairly classic, all the men's magazines say accessories, such as shirts and ties, are the key to looking "of the season." --K.L.
Answer: The kind of shirt you choose should depend on the cut of your blazer. If your blazer is one of the oversize jackets originated by the New Wave Japanese designers, your shirt should be long and loose--preferably not tucked in. The collar of the shirt can be tiny or a simple band collar, and the tie can be long and skinny. If your jacket is a classic two-button, your shirt should be classic. A button-down is considered primarily sporty and worn in the daytime only. The rounder collar gives a softer look and can be worn for dress or sport. The straight point collar is the most versatile and can be worn for dress or sport, day or night. The cutaway collar, also known as the Windsor collar, is worn for a dressy look. And a collar pin is worn when a more formal look is desired. The pin itself should be from 1 5/8 to 1 7/8 inches long. The tie, of course, should be in proportion to the shirt collar and lapel of the jacket.
If all this sounds hopelessly complicated, consider the turtleneck illustrated here. It's 100% cotton, costs $22 at Bullocks Wilshire, where it's available in seven colors, and it was the big top-of-the-moment in the recent Italian menswear collections for fall. Designers there show it with suits as well as jackets. So if you want to get a jump on fall, wear it now. Sizes run from Small through Extra Large. It's illustrated here with a silk herringbone jacket ($265) from Bullocks Wilshire's own Tower collection. Both the turtleneck and the jacket are at the Wilshire store only.
Q: I know a terrific lady who has just celebrated her 97th birthday. She has worn Shelton Strollers for years but can no longer find this label. All the better department stores used to carry them, but not now. The dresses were shirtwaist styles, usually nylon, in pretty, bright prints. She still has a couple but definitely needs more. Can you help? --J.S.
A: Long-sleeved shirtwaist dresses much like those made popular by Shelton Stroller are available in the current catalogue published by Old Pueblo Traders, Palo Verde Street at 33rd Street, Box 27800, Tucson, Ariz. 85726. Most of them are made of polyester or polyester-cotton jerseys, and some are in woven rayon challis. Watch for labels such as California Looks, Monica Richards and Marty Gutmacher.
Q: We have been invited to a formal evening affair where the guests will be fairly conservative and generally wealthy. Many will be wearing expensive jewelry. I am enclosing a rough sketch of the evening dress I would like to wear. Please tell me if it is in style at this time. As you can see, it is a halter style with plunging neckline. (Although it is low cut, it is in good taste, and the last time I wore it I received many compliments.) The fabric is a camel-colored jersey. I have a diamond pendant I could wear with it, but I feel that the dress needs something more dramatic. Any ideas? I'm 5 feet, 9 inches, 115 pounds, blond hair, hazel eyes. Since I'm tall I won't wear heels over 2 inches. Most pretty dress shoes have higher heels. I wore gold low-heeled sandals the last time I appeared in the dress, but I'm afraid they look dated now. --C.L.
A: Bring your dress up to date by placing rhinestone buttons from the bottom of your V neckline all the way to the hem--the bigger the buttons the better. Wear big rhinestone earrings and repeat the glitter at your feet by getting a pair of 2-inch pumps dyed to match your dress, then adding a rhinestone clip at the throat of each shoe.
Marylou Luther welcomes questions from readers. Mail to Clotheslines, Fashion86, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.