Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


          Q: Dear Marylou:  You write that pantsuits are back.  I didn’t know they’d left.  Please explain. __ D.J.T., Cleveland, OH.

        Norisol Ferrari sex-changed pantsuit




Dear D.J.T.:  You’re right that pantsuits still abound in mainstream career looks.  But they haven’t been seen in the fashion sector for some time.
     Until now.  Of all the many new choices available come spring 2019—looks ranging from oversized jackets with pleat-front pants to boleros with cigarette pants to military jackets with surplus pants—one of my favorite renditions, illustrated here, is by Norisol Ferrari.  Instead of re-releasing the shoulder-padded mannish pantsuit first made famous by Giorgio Armani in The ‘80s as the androgynous look, Ferrari sex-changed the pantsuit from his/hers/theirs to hers with a curvy jacket and Capri pants.   The wide-brimmed hat, also a signature of the season ahead, adds to the feminine tilt.



       illustration by Ann Morin   


       Q: Dear Marylou:  Who was the first woman to wear pants?__ G.G., Baltimore, MD.

             Dear G.G.:  It wasn’t Elizabeth Smith Miller, a 19th Century suffragette.  It wasn’t Marlene Dietrich or Katherine Hepburn, who transposed pants from real life to reel life.  It wasn’t Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall”.  It wasn’t Hillary Clinton, the first First Lady to wear pants in her official White House portrait.
             It was Joan of Arc, the most famous pants-wearing disciple of the 15th Century.

   Q:  Dear Marylou:  My new boyfriend is a Virgo.  What should I know about his fashion preferences before I buy his birthday present?__ N.S., Fayetteville, NC.

            Dear N.S.:  Virgo is supposed to be the most fastidious sign of the zodiac.  Virgo designer, the late Geoffrey Beene, told me that Virgos care more about how they look than any other sign.  “Not necessarily about fashion,” he pointed out, “but about how they look.  They’re neat, clean and careful about their clothes, and they can’t stand to be predictable or uncomfortable.”
             Because most men look good in T-shirts, and T-shirts are possibly the most comfortable item in a man’s wardrobe, I’d say buy him a T-shirt.  They’re essentials in the current street-to-salon movement, whereby basic sportswear items are rebooted in luxury fabrics.  You’ll see a variety at  


   Q: Dear Marylou:  In this time of gender fluidity what item in the recent Paris menswear previews for next spring provoked the most controversy?__ U.T., Denver, CO.

           Dear U.T.  I’m not sure if it provoked controversy, but, to me, the runway-ing of a woman’s corselet layered over a man’s black suit was pure wit.  (Some might say outrage?)  Or you could call it the new twofer for those who like to be noticed.   The provocateur was John Galliano of Maison Margiela Artisan


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


©2018 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.