Clotheslines By Marylou Luther

Dear Marylou: I know that so-called gender-neutral clothes are once again de rigueur. What do you believe is the look that fist made him-for-her clothes fashionable?__J.D., Los Angeles, CA.
Dear J.D.: There are those who would dispute this, but I believe the tuxedo, aka le smoking, was the first major unisex, gender bender, binary look. And there are those who would dispute which woman—Marlene Deitrich in the Travis Banton rendition for the movie “Morocco”, or 19th Century French novelist Lucile Aurore Dupin Dudevant, whose pen name was George Sand–first wore that gender-fluid design.
Few, however, would dispute the person who originated the tuxedo and how it got its name. Griswold Lorillard debuted the look at his millionaires’ club in Tuxedo Park, NY, back in 1886. The back story involves a l9th Century English prince, who later became King Edward VII, and his idea to create a comfortable alternative to the swallowtail evening coats and white ties then worn at all upperclass dinner tables. Lorillard asked the prince if he could copy the jacket. The prince consented, and the American brought the tail-less jacket to his club in Tuxeedo Park, hence the name.
The biggest fashion redux of the tux came in in 1966 when Yves Saint Laurent introduced le smoking. It’s been hot ever since, especially right now.
To me, the most original tuxedo came from China-born designer Han Feng, whose version is illustrated here. As you can see from her sketch, the rear view is decorated with a detachable flock of feathers—in this case goose and chicken feathers. It is, literallyu, a rara avis. The down-to-earth news is that you, or a dressmaker, could adapt the idea and cover a portion of the jaket’s back side by sewing on your own choice of feathers. Or create a feather peplum for the back side and attach it with snaps.
Dear Marylou: I’m about to go tuxedo-shopping for my June wedding and need to know: Are lapels wide or narrow now? Must the shirt have a bib front?__V.M., Baltimore, MD.
Dear V.M.: Menswear designer/author/historian Alan Flusser says the style you choose should depend on your facial structure and build, not the exigencies of fashion.
Those exigencies right now are so liberal that you could not go wrong with your choice of wide lapels, narrow lapels, shawl collar or notched collar, narrow pants or wide pants, tuxedo-striped pants or long black skirt, bib-front shirt or T-shirt.
Dear Marylou: Should tuxedo pants be cuffed?—N.F., Littleton, CO.
Dear N.F.: Again, my source is Alan Flusser, who told me that tuxedo trousers will always be cuffless because the grosgrain or satin facing on the outer seam (the tuxedo stripes) makes it impossible to cuff. To illustrate his point, Flusser recounted how tuxedo cuffs became part of the plot of the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire classic “Swing Time”.
“The boys in the band didn’t want Astaire’s character to get married so they tell him that it was now fashionable to put cuffs on tuxedo trousers. They take an Esquire magazine, pencil-in a cuff and tell him this is the new fashion. Astaire takes his tuxedo trousers to a tailor, who goes into a tirade about the impossibility of it all and tells him he’s insulted even to be asked to commit such a sartorial sin. Because the tailor refused and took up so much time castigating the hapless Astaire, he missed the wdding, and the bride canceled.” Or: He didn’t turnup beause of turn-ups—the original term for cuffs.
Dear Marylou: My lottery pick as a the “come-as” theme for our l0-year high school reunion is Czar Nicholas II. Of course I’ve looked him up oGoogle. Please give me your take on the lowest cost way to achieve this.—A.J.T., Dallas, TX.

Dear A.J.T.: If you were in your high school marching band or have any friends your size who were, a frog-scrolled band jacket would be positively czaristic. And very much in keeping with the militaristic overtones on the latest runways. Be sure your jacket has epaulets and lots of gold braid.
(Marylou welcomes question for use in tClotheslines in are of this site.)
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