Dear Fashion Police: Is it possible that I'm committing a fashion crime by occasionally wearing scarves? Do I have to wait for a cold and windy day? What size, shape and location is "legal" for spring and summer 1998?
--SCARF COLLECTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE
Dear Extra: It's hardly a fashion crime to wear a scarf, unless that's all you wear, and then we're talking about another kind of crime.
Scarves are classic accessories and always in style, although how they're worn changes throughout the years, and colors and fabrics vary with the seasons. For instance, if you took a small, rectangular foulard-print tie and made a floppy bow under the collar of a white blouse, you'd look like an '80s relic.
How you wear a scarf depends on its shape, and what you wear it with. Simple crew- or jewel-neck blouses and sweaters allow considerable variations on draping and knotting, from a triangle-folded square loosely tied in front to a chenille oblong casually wrapped around the neck. Scarves can also be worn over jackets, with dresses and with jeans and T-shirts. One popular look this season is a small neckerchief worn around the throat with a simple knot (not too tight, of course). It looks great with a sleeveless tailored blouse or simple tank.
Extra-large scarves make perfect sarongs, which a lot of bathing suit designers are showing as beach cover-ups.
Capri pants, big this season, beg for a '50s look, which can be achieved with some red lipstick, cat-eye sunglasses and a scarf worn around your head and knotted just below the chin. Then all you'll need is a really cool convertible.
Ever notice how some women innately know how to wear scarves? Don't we hate them? If you're not among the gifted, there are books and probably even videos dedicated to scarf tying, so you can practice in the privacy of your own home.
Dear Fashion Police: I am 36 years old and stand one important inch over 5 feet. I weigh 108 pounds. With her infinite sense of humor, God has seen fit to give me a 38-inch bust line. I usually wear a 32E bra. It may seem like a problem women would kill for, but then those women haven't tried getting dressed, especially for the office. My choices are to look like a Dolly Parton stand-in or to appear unprofessional or eight months pregnant.
I have an important job interview next month and am at a complete loss as to what I could possibly wear. Help!
--NO BUST LINE JOKES, PLEASE
Dear No Jokes: No problem skipping the tasteless humor--trying to find a 32E bra would probably make us too cranky for laughs.
But you can still look professional for your job interview. With your height and figure, we'd suggest a sophisticated suit in a muted color (no patterns or florals) such as camel, taupe, gray or medium blue. It should be in an elegant fabric such as silk or a linen blend (make sure it doesn't wrinkle too much). Check for signs of bad tailoring such as puckered seams, cheap buttons and droopy linings.
The point is to draw attention away from your bust line and toward your face, so choose a jacket that has no embellishments up top--that includes pockets and even lapels. A collarless style is ideal. Underneath, wear a neutral-colored, plain shell.
The jacket should hang somewhat loosely from your shoulders. When you button it, it shouldn't cinch at the waist. The skirt should be straight, ending at about the knee. Choose sheer hose in a color that compliments the suit and some plain 2-inch pumps the same color as the suit.
Skip a necklace but wear classic, smallish earrings in gold, silver or pearls--no glitzy rhinestones or drops that hang to your shoulders. Make sure your makeup and hair are as close to perfect as you can get them. Now, go out there and get that job!
Notes From the Fashion Police Blotter: While we were going through your entertaining letters and faxes on what horrifies you about summer dressing, one pet peeve clearly stood out from the rest: exposed bra straps. That seems to drive everyone--men and women, old and young--absolutely nutty.
It drove Robin Goodman to design Teentubz, an unpadded bandeau bra that fits from a AA to a C.
It's not just for teens, says Goodman, despite its name. She wears one, and she's a fortysomething mother. It was Goodman's daughter and her friends, in fact, who inspired the design: "They started going to bar and bat mitzvahs and school dances, and all the girls had their bra straps sticking out of their spaghetti strap dresses, and also the bras had all this padding."
Teentubz are made of nylon-spandex, have no fasteners, come in white, nude and black and retail for about $15. Goodman says they're available at Charlotte Russe, Rampage, Nordstrom and Wet Seal.
* 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.