Dear Fashion Police: Do you ever receive complaints about stretch pants? They shrink! I bought a few pairs of cotton-spandex pants, and after washing them in the washing machine, they shrank. The care label said to dry clean them, but I don't think it's economical to dry clean a pair of stretch pants all the time. I tried going up one size, but it's a gamble since I can't gauge the size after I wash them.
--LOOKING FOR A TIP
Dear Tip: So you cavalierly ignored the manufacturer's washing instructions? What a maverick! What a risk taker! Any chance you also tear the little white tags off mattresses just for fun?
Back to your pants. If you don't feel like schlepping to the dry cleaners every week, here are some ideas: You didn't say whether you washed the pants in hot or cold water, but washing machines and detergents in general can do a number on some fabrics. Instead, hand wash the pants in cold water with Woolite or something similar. If you truly have no patience to do the hand-washing thing, use Woolite with the machine's gentle cycle. Don't put them in the dryer--ever--but dry them flat on a clothes rack.
If they still shrink, you may have to become very good friends with your dry cleaner or simply wear pants that don't stretch.
When you do buy a new pair of pants--or any garment that you're going to wash yourself, for that matter--ask a salesperson how much shrinkage to expect. Sometimes they actually have this information, believe it or not. Chances are the more cotton a garment contains, the more it will shrink.
Dear Fashion Police: If gray is this year's black, then what does that make black?
THE GRAY MATTER
Dear Ponder: That makes black last year's brown. Therefore, brown becomes next year's navy, and navy is the mulberry of 1992.
From the Fashion Police Blotter: It's not often we get serious--well, we do get serious, but not serious serious--but we felt we should pass on the contents of a recent letter.
A Los Angeles woman writes:
"I wish to offer an alert on the hazards of the baggy pants worn by many young children these days. These pants 'drip' around the children's ankles and are very dangerous. I witnessed the rescue of a young girl on the escalator stairs in one of our local malls. Her pants were caught in the meshing teeth of the stairs.
"In another incident, a young boy was showing off with his skateboard. His pants got caught in the skateboard, and he flipped into the path of an oncoming car. The car stopped in time.
"A friend's son caught his pant leg in the accelerator of a car trying to apply the brakes. He ran his mother's new van into the back of a friend's pickup. The price of these pants is not worth the risk."
Readers, have you seen or experienced similar close calls with extra-long baggy pants? Do you forbid your children to wear them for safety reasons? Or just because they look weird? Let us know.
* 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.