Clotheslines by Marylou Luther

                            Zandra Rhodes bare shoulder dress for Natalie Wood


Q Dear Marylou:  Are cleavage-baring dresses still in?  My daughter and her friends amaze me by wearing such dresses to work.  Please comment. __ B.A., Cleveland, OH.


   Dear B.A.:   Keeping abreast of the times (sorry, I couldn’t resist), I see bare shoulders as far more trendy right now.  They definitely star in the spring designs previewed in September and October.
   One of the most beautiful bare-shoulder gowns I’ve ever seen is illustrated here.  It’s British design legend Zandra Rhodes’ creation worn by Natalie Wood in a l969 edition of Vogue.  And it’s part of Rhodes’ Archive collection of nine dresses available exclusively at this website.
   The multi-awarded designer who was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1997 and is a Dame in the Queen’s latest Honours List, has dressed such celebrities as Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor among many, many others.  She describes the dress this way:  “The knitted circle print hangs in cascading magical layers from a one-shouldered quilted black satin band.  The tiered ruffles are crafted from sheer silk chiffon printed in navy, gold and charcoal gray on black.  The print is 
 as if the flowers have been crocheted and all the rest of the circle is embroidered.”   
 It’s price:  $l,956. 



illustration by Zandra Rhodes                                                          





   Q Dear Marylou:  What’s the latest on the sustainability front? __ R.T.T., Hogansville, GA.


      Dear R.T.T.: In addition to making clothes from sustainably-sourced materials manufactured in New York, Arcana NYC , designed by Arianna Reagan, is exploring the sustainability of design, not just fabrication.  The idea is to offer garments that can be worn several ways.  
  A lace-up blouse with full, bishop sleeves, for example, can be worn backwards or forwards.  The lace-on sleeves can be removed when it’s hot and re-laced for a cold-shoulder look.   A formal gown suitable for weddings or galas comes with hidden button plackets that allow the dress to be transformed into a figure-hugging cocktail dress or a flowing sundress.  To learn more, go to



     Q  Dear Marylou:  Is there a trend ahead that can be easily worn without spending too much money? __ H.P., Newark, NJ.


     Dear H.P.:   Two of the biggest spring trends are shirts and oversized/comfort clothes.  Both can be purchased right now in prices well below those charged by the designers who showed them.  Where?  In menswear departments, where the clothes quality is often comparable to the clothes in luxury boutiques. Or ask your boyfriend, husband, father, brother if you could borrow their shirts, sweaters, jackets, vests and coats.



   Q  Dear Marylou:  It’s puzzling to me to read about designers who offer fur in their spring collections.  Please tell me why. __ A.G., Grand Rapids, MI.


    Dear A.G.:   Many designers—especially the big names—have stores all over he world.  And what is spring in one area is winter in another.  That, plus the fact that most spring clothes are delivered in February or March, when the weather is fur-worthy, makes fur offerings sensible.

  (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


 ©2017, International Fashion Syndicate


      Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the  award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

   In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields.  Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

   The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.”  She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard  award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

  Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.