Shorts can be perfectly suited to the workplace


Q: Women in my office have been discussing whether shorts are too sexy to wear at work (an architectural center) in hot weather. We can't agree. What do you think?

A: It depends on the individual. If you have a good figure and feel comfortable in shorts, go ahead. Many designers will give you their blessings. For spring they pair shorts with jackets and present them as suits.

In Milan, Gianni Versace says he considers shorts an alternative to a mini-skirt:

"The look is for the woman who wants to dress for work in another way. Shorts can be very stylish, especially in a menswear fabric."

Mr. Versace emphasizes that "choice" is the most important fashion word: "Women have to understand themselves and dress to fit their figures, jobs and personalities."

Q: At 73, I am 5 feet tall and weigh 170 pounds. It is almost impossible to find clothes to fit me. While I have narrow shoulders and a small bust, I am extremely thick through the waist and stomach. My solution is to buy clothes two sizes too large and take them in at the bust and shoulders. Isn't there an easier solution?

A: There definitely is, says Joan King of Simplicity Pattern Co. She suggests you consider two-piece dressing.

"Tunics or simple shirts over an elasticized pant or a skirt are fashionable and comfortable. They are easier to buy in different sizes. And you will find that when you buy bottoms in neutral colors you can mix and match them with your tops."

Ms. King also recommends home sewing: "There are a variety of easy-to-sew, fashionable styles to complement your type of figure.

"Look for patterns that are available in multi-sizing. You can adjust these patterns so your top will fit proportionally. This gives you a lot of flexibility with your clothes. You can use the same pattern for slightly different styles.

"For instance, you can have a round neckline or a square one, patch or side pockets. The combinations can be almost endless, and you'll find you become more daring as you work."

Ms. King says to find a store that specializes in fabrics and patterns and not hesitate to ask for advice.

"Some stores will provide the name of a dressmaker who will help if you need assistance."

Q: A few seasons ago I started buying wide-leg pants when they were all the rage. They look good on me and they feel good. But now I'm confused with all the news of "narrow proportions." I am on a weekend rowing team and in very good shape -- tall with long, slim legs. Can you recommend the right proportions for me?

A: Calvin Klein seemed the right designer to end your confusion. Here's what he had to say:

"Although your wide-leg pants are an important part of your wardrobe, you should update by emphasizing your shape and a smoother look.

"Silhouettes are now closer to the body to complement a woman's natural curves. Look for a jacket that is more structured trim and narrow -- but make sure it does not restrict your movement."

With the jacket Mr. Klein suggests tapered pants "to elongate and accent thin legs.

"Shine is the newest and freshest element in pants and I recommend you buy a pair in satin."

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