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JEANNINE STEIN / Fashion Police

Styles Need to Grow Up

March 19, 1998|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Fashion Police: I am curious as to why the fashion industry continues to ignore the older (mature) generation of women. We spend good money when we can find clothes. Being in the age group from 60 to 90 is a challenge these days.

I rarely see ads showing stylish clothes for the older woman. I'm tired of seeing strange costumes draped over tall, skinny young girls with hair that looks like they combed it with an eggbeater.

--STYLISH SENIOR

Dear Stylish: Listen--do you hear that? It's the sound of hundreds of women "of a certain age" applauding you. Although your frustration is surely shared, it's nothing new that, for the most part, designers, clothing manufacturers and fashion magazines regard older women as invisible. They probably think your demographic likes to watch reruns of "The Lawrence Welk Show," enjoys making Jell-O molds and has a special affinity for support hose. They probably don't think of Jane Fonda (who is 60, really).

Will that always be the case? Don't hold your breath waiting for Vogue to feature a stunning grandmother model on the cover, but take heart. Things in the fashion world do change.

Take large sizes. Ten years ago, plus-size women had to trudge down to department store basements to look through a scant supply of poorly made, ugly clothes. Today it's a buyer's market, with top designers offering a vast range of stylish, wearable fashions. It seems someone finally woke up and realized--duh!--that big women didn't want to walk around in muumuus.

But the status quo won't budge unless you speak up and let stores, designers, catalog companies and magazines know what you want. You could be the catalyst for a revolution. If enough women let their voices be heard, there's no telling what might happen.

*

Dear Fashion Police: Is it a crime to wear white nylons with skirts and black or navy shoes to the office? If so, what color would you recommend? Also, can you wear black and navy together?

--OBEYING THE LAW

Dear Obey: Leave the pure white pantyhose to brides and Nurse Ratched. Instead, try shades of ivory or shell in a sheer weight. Light-colored hose are fine with a skirt and black or navy shoes as long as some other piece in your outfit is a similar pale shade, such as a sweater, jacket or blouse.

So you're thinking about wearing navy and black together? Are you hoping that, if you do, no one will notice that they're just a liiiittle bit off? Forget it. Navy / black combos are doomed. Trust us on this one. We speak from experience.

*

Hairy Situation: A few of you didn't like the fact that we took some female singers to task for proudly displaying their sprouting underarm hair at the Grammy Awards. Our favorite letter came from a girl named Melanie who, judging from the loose-leaf paper and an apparent unfamiliarity with a ballpoint pen, is in elementary school. She writes:

"Not to be rude or anything, but at least they won a Grammy. I bet none of you can sing as good like those people you mentioned. 'They must have lost their razors.' I mean, who cares if they have lots of armpit hair. It's about what's on the inside. P.S.: What makes you think you don't have a flaw?"

First of all, Melanie, we may not have a Grammy on our mantel, but the acoustics in our shower are so amazing that some days you can't tell us apart from Kiri Te Kanawa. Second, we agree that "it's about what's on the inside." But things like icky body hair or wearing plaids with stripes can sometimes prevent others from not wanting to get to know what's on the inside.

As for your question, "What makes you think you don't have a flaw?" Because we don't, OK?

* When reporting or preventing a fashion crime, write to Fashion Police, Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or fax to (213) 237-0732. Submissions cannot be returned. No telephone inquiries, please.

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