'Special Occasion' Dress Has Second Life

Question: My daughter will be married late this summer, and she has asked the mother of the groom and me to wear street-length dresses in light chiffon prints. Please help me find one that I will be able to wear after the ceremony without looking like a retired mother of the bride.--J.Q.

Answer: London designer Zandra Rhodes, who designed the chiffon print dress illustrated here, says she has sold several of this style to mothers of the bride in England, who give the design a post-nuptial look by changing accessories.

As Rhodes explains: "Forget the hang-up about being seen in the same dress after the wedding. The important thing is to feel good in the dress to begin with. If you buy something that suits you, you'll wear it not because of 'fashion' but because you like it. The dress shown here can look totally different with black jewelry, for example, and black shoes. I wear mine with black stockings and a black stole, and no one has ever mistaken me for a wedding guest."

This Zandra Rhodes design is a white-on-white zigzag print with delicate pink beading and a sprinkling of rhinestones. It's available at Giorgio, Beverly Hills, and Neiman-Marcus.

Q: It is virtually impossible to find 11W shoes for my 14-year-old granddaughter. The ones that do fit are too mature-looking for her. Can you help?--G.K.

A: Fortunately for your granddaughter, casual shoes, such as sneakers and Topsiders, are without gender. There are many 11Ws available in those styles if you start checking the men's shoe stocks as well as the women's. It is more difficult, of course, to find suitable dress shoes. You will find a good selection at the Nine to Twelve Shoe Salon, 10750 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City.

Q: In a recent column you warned against storing clothes in plastic, pointing out that fabrics must breathe in order to survive. My closet seems to absorb all the dirt from the air, so I keep my clothes covered in the nylon containers provided by dry cleaners. As a matter of fact, the plastic cover gets so dirty that when I remove it, I have to wash my hands before touching the garment itself. How can I protect my wardrobe in the closet without storing my clothing in plastic?--A.D.

A: First, you should talk to your landlord about weather-stripping your closet. There must be something he can do to seal out the dirt. Ideally, clothes should be stored in bags made of unbleached muslin. This fabric allows the clothes to breathe and can be laundered easily. If you can't find these in closet shops or cannot make them yourself, try draping a sheet over your clothes.

Q: What is the derivation of the word tuxedo?

A: The tuxedo, now celebrating its 100th birthday, was named after Tuxedo Park, N.Y. Until 1886, when Griswold Lorillard introduced the tail-less evening jacket at a formal party in Tuxedo Park, men's formal evening jackets in the United States consisted of the tail coat, including a white bow tie and a starched standing collar. The original tuxedo, otherwise known as a dinner jacket, had a shawl collar and satin-faced lapels.

Q: Why do the British call raincoats mackintoshes?--J.L.

A: Mackintoshes are named for Charles Macintosh of Glasgow, Scotland, who produced a waterproof raincoat called the mackintosh. And no one seems to know why macintosh with a c became mackintosh with an added k.

Marylou Luther welcomes questions from readers. Mail to Clotheslines, Fashion86, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.

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