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FASHION POLICE

Luckily, Politicos Don't Decide Hemlines

August 25, 2000|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Fashion Police: I couldn't help but notice the length of Karenna Gore Schiff's skirt when she made her speech at the Democratic National Convention. She wore a dress that fell below the knee by a vague number of inches. Is this representative of the Coming Order, or were her handlers just trying to be conservative? After years of long skirts that brushed the ankles, or short ones that made it unsafe to sit down, this might be good news.

--WATCHING THE POLLS AND THE CLOTHES

Dear Watching: It might be good news. Then again, it might not. We, too, noticed the hem of Schiff's sheath dress and thought it a fine length, although it did nothing for us--or her, for that matter. Caroline Kennedy appeared almost Jackie-like in a similar look, a dress that skimmed her body with a length not meant to raise any eyebrows.

That past-the-knee look has actually been around for a couple of years, with designers offering it as an alternative to short and long extremes. We're not so sure her handlers were trying to make her look conservative; she probably made that decision all on her own. Let's see, she's the daughter of the vice president, in front of millions of people . . . does she choose the pretty dress or the leather mini and halter top?

Schiff definitely fit right in with her fellow campaigning females, even on the Republican side. Boring, boxy suits and helmet hair are still the order of business for most women either running for office or stumping for those who are. We realize that turning oneself into a fashion plate can appear frivolous and shallow, but there must be a happy medium. One can look classy, elegant, sophisticated, interject some personal style and have a sense of what's going on in fashion. Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana did it with aplomb.

Is Schiff's dress a harbinger of things to come? Sure, designers will continue to feature that length in their fall collections, especially as this new "lady" look comes into vogue. But this is more about hemlines. We hope that whoever becomes first lady chooses a style that is not only appropriate for her position, but also reflects her true style, and not just some images he thinks she ought to have.

*

Dear Fashion Police: I am a member of several sailing associations. Some of the older male members often think it is sporting to wear white pants, a white belt, and white short-sleeve shirts with black epaulets and gold bars to functions like a club burger bash. Even if these men do have captains' licenses, I think this looks so cheap and horrible. We sail and boat a lot with many captains who do not wear these little sailor suits, so it is not required dress. Can't we save the uniform for the real serving officers and little children?

--SAILING FOR

FASHIONABLE SHORES

Dear Sailing: We had to go to a couple of experts on this one, because sailing is not really our "thing." In fact, no amount of Dramamine or sun block could make sailing our "thing."

But we checked with a spokeswoman from the American Sailing Assn. in Marina del Rey who said that there are no set civilian dress codes; it's up to the individual. In other words, those Good Humor-ish white suits aren't in violation, because there is no military code to follow.

David Reed, managing editor of Sailing World magazine, concurred. As far as social events go, it's a wear-what-you-want policy. He added that often men in an "older age bracket who are involved in that kind of scene feel that it's a tradition they're following. A lot of that comes from older clubs that have established traditions."

So it looks like you're not going to be able to wave this column in these cap'n's faces and shout, "Nyah, nyah, nyah," much as you'd probably like to. Anyway, it's not worth the risk of being thrown overboard.

*

Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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