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Marlo Thomas hopes change can happen from inside the closet

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/19/2017 By MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer
This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Feminist actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas, who broke TV barriers in "That Girl," will not be at the Women's March on Washington. She'll be too busy with a new way she hopes to empower women — clothes.

This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File)

Thomas is this week debuting her ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called "That Woman " targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics.

This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press This Jan. 12, 2017 photo, actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas poses for a photo in New York. Thomas, who broke TV barriers in the series, “That Girl,” is debuting a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN called “That Woman” targeting older woman with clothes in vivid colors and nice fabrics. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP, File)

"I'm really trying to create a closet for women," said Thomas, 79, of the 15-piece collection. "You put it together your way. You can mix and match it anyway you want to do it."

Thomas, who helped smash gender stereotypes with her "Free To Be..." series and joined Gloria Steinem to fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, said her spirit — if not her body — will be with the women marching to demand a stronger voice in society.

"I don't know if you need me in the political arena right now. I've certainly marched for women and I always will. I've marched for the gay community. I believe in human rights and civil rights and I believe in the First Amendment and I will always fight for those rights, but I don't think I need to right now," she said.

Instead, she's taking the long view that her clothes can spark strength in every woman who wears them, from XS to 3X. "A lot of it is about feeling confident," she said. "Confidence begets hope."

The collection includes dresses, tops, pants, skirts, dusters and two pieces of jewelry. Prices range from $39.90 for a heart choker to $169.90 for a perforated moto jacket. The line's label is a play on "That Girl," the first sitcom to portray an independent young woman.

Thomas said she got the idea to design the line after meeting many older woman who "want to get back into the action and they're not quite sure how to do it." They told her they wanted to know how to dress for an interview or what to wear on the job.

"I thought, 'You know, I'd like to do a line of clothes for women like me who are over 40 — or way over 40 — and still want to look flirty and sassy and pretty without being in clothes that are so loopy that you can't find yourself inside or have bare midriffs and stuff that we're not going to wear anymore,'" she said.

It may not come as a surprise that a portion of the proceeds will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, the facility her father, TV entertainer Danny Thomas, started that provides free care for children with cancer.

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Thomas, who has a part in the upcoming "Ocean's Eight" film, admits that raising the $2.4 million a day that the hospital needs to stay open consumes much of her time and blunts her political side. "I bite my tongue all the time right now," she said. "I have to."

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Mark Kennedy is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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