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JEANNINE STEIN / FASHION POLICE

A Pox on Hosts Who Require 'Black Tie'

October 29, 1998|JEANNINE STEIN

Dear Fashion Police: What does "black tie preferred" mean for a woman? Men have it so easy. The event starts in the early afternoon.

--IN THE DARK

ABOUT BLACK TIE

Dear Dark: Here's what "black tie preferred" means: The host is an inconsiderate nimrod who wants to make dressing for an event as difficult as possible for every guest. He issues the edict "black tie preferred" so that no one has a clue as to what to wear. Not only that, he begins the event in the early afternoon, which is several hours too early to wear a tuxedo anyway to further confuse and annoy everyone. Guests are left scurrying for suitable outfits, not really knowing what is appropriate.

We are so sorry that you received an invitation from someone who is obviously unqualified to issue it. "Black tie preferred" is a stupid way of saying, "It's kind of a formal event, but not that formal. I'd like you to wear a tuxedo, but you might not have one or want to rent one, so you may wear a suit, but you'll probably feel awkward and out of place. As for the women, well, it's your guess."

That aside, tuxedos should never be requested for events that begin before 6 p.m.; this is formal evening attire not to be worn in the afternoon.

So we beg to differ with you on one issue--men really don't have it so easy. But for women, it's true, "black tie preferred" is an even more frustrating concept. Since you haven't said what the event is, we'd suggest a cocktail or dinner dress, midcalf to just above the knee, in a fall color--nothing too bright or pastel. A dressy suit, or a sheath dress with a matching jacket would also be great. Stick to silks or silk-like rayon, nice wools or fine knits. If this is a wedding, don't wear black.

And please send us the name and address of the fool who sent this invitation so that we may take away his or her host privileges for all eternity.

Dear Fashion Police: I know muumuus are considered crimes, especially in public. Yet, I am looking for one in all-cotton sateen, the kind that were so common and comfortable. I like to walk around the house in them with nothing constricting underneath. This last summer would have been even more intolerable without my two remaining (and patched) muumuus.

I often see polyester knit ones featured in catalogs, but I want thereal thing in cotton. Hey, do you want to see me in a shredded, patched muumuu?

--CROWING OVER

MUUMUUS

Dear Crowing: Hey, no, we don't! But now we're forced to have that lovely image of you burned into our brain!

Despite having to now conjure up images of you in worn muumuus, we will, in a rare moment of benevolence, give you a resource for what you want--as long as you make this solemn pledge. Repeat after us: "I (state your name) swear that I will only wear muumuus and similar items of clothing around the house, and not anywhere in public where others may see me. That includes the corner grocery store, the video rental place and the post office. I may leave my house to pick up the newspaper, as long as it is still pitch-black outside. Violating this pledge will result in immediate incarceration in fashion jail and the mandatory wearing of pilling, tattered, shaggy double-knit polyester."

There. Now, the Canyon Wren Cottons catalog stocks many styles of all-cotton, feminine lingerie and sleepwear. We found several styles of robes and gowns in cotton lawn, cotton shirting and cotton knit that may be what you're looking for--only nicer. Prices range from about $30 to $80, and there are some plus sizes available. For more information, call (888) 838-0884.

Martha's Done It Again!: You may worship the hallowed ground she walks upon, or see her as the blond anti-Christ of home decorating and entertaining, but you have to give Martha Stewart credit for at least some of what she's brought to American culture. Her most recent creation is "Clotheskeeping," a special issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine that's on newsstands now for $4.50. In it she details everything you'd want to know about cleaning clothes, storing them, ironing them and recycling them. There are stories on buttons, how to hang mirrors, how to clean jewelry and care for shoes, how a suit should fit and interesting factoids about wool. The issue may actually contain more than you want to know, but it's a terrific reference to have on hand. And it's worth the price alone to see a picture of Martha, in pedal pushers, cleaning something on an old washboard. As if!

* When reporting or preventing a fashion crime, write to Fashion Police, 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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