5:56 PM EST, February 6, 2014
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I received two statement necklaces as gifts. Now I need to know how to wear them. What to pair them with? Casual and dressy looks? I love the sparkle.
— Debbie B.
Dear Debbie: I love the sparkle too! In fact, I love everything about statement necklaces — the gaudier the better. As with everything about fashion today, there are no rules. But here are a few guidelines:
Keep it simple. If you have a honking gorgeous necklace, don't compete with it. No ruffles or quirky necklines. Think twice about pairing with giant, flashy earrings.
You can't go wrong with black. In fact there is no better way to dress up a basic little black anything (dress, T-shirt, blouse, suit) than a "wow" necklace.
Sparkle is not just for evening. These necklaces look great with a denim shirt or other casual wear.
There's no such thing as clashing. When it comes to these statement pieces, anything goes.
For those who don't know where to shop, the options are fabulous and not expensive. Shop by color at Charming Charlie (charmingcharlie.com) for under $20. Etsy.com is loaded with them. And for all those women who think Forever 21 is way too youthful, get over it. Some of the best bargains in jewelry are waiting for you there (forever21.com).
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What do you do when someone sends gifts of clothes that are always too large, shipped from online sites that make returning them so expensive and such a hassle that it's not really worthwhile? Is there a nice way to say, "My family really isn't composed of XXL giants"???
Dear L.: In the most grateful tone, tell your gift givers that everyone in your family loves the generous presents they receive, but they're just a little roomy. Then, ask if you can send along some size guidelines for your family that might be a better fit. The direct approach is your only option other than the headache of returns — or donating the clothes to a worthy charity.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Black hose — yes or no?? I recently attended an evening wedding and very few women were wearing black hose (with black dress shoes). Looks like women are wearing nude or no hose. I felt very self-conscious wearing black hose and made a beeline for the women's restroom and took them off. So, what's the story on black hose?
Dear Barbara: So many readers send me questions about what's right and wrong to wear to weddings, and my first reaction is that this is the bride's show. Nobody is looking at you so … relax a little. But that doesn't answer your question. Extremely sheer black hosiery is starting to show up on runways. So, in fact, you were on the leading edge of a soon-to-be trend. Congratulations! See, you didn't need to hot-foot it to the ladies' room to yank off those stockings after all! But, truth is that the bare leg is the current fashion, and it's not flattering on many women whose legs are pasty, veiny or saggy. Some fashion experts say nude hosiery is totally unacceptable. I say wear it if you think your legs require covering, but make sure it's ultra sheer.
Kate Middleton, wife and mother of future kings of England, wears nude hose so it can't be that bad, right?
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I love to wear dressy strappy sandals with cocktail dresses and dressy slacks. However, I find it most uncomfortable not to wear hose in the winter. Why is it so wrong to wear sheer hose with strap shoes? Fashion has changed, and now it is acceptable to wear white shoes after Labor Day. Why does wearing hose with sandals continue to be a fashion faux pas?
— Olga C.
Dear Olga: The look of women's toes and heels through nude hosiery is not my favorite. If the hosiery (only nude, never color) is supersheer with no sheen and not reinforced at the heel or toe, you can get away with it.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you or your readers know of any product to reduce smile lines in a 50-plus woman?
— Carol G.
Dear Carol: If only. … There are hundreds of creams, lotions, gels and serums that promise to reduce lines, and more new products hit stores every week. I've tested many of them and have not found a single one that makes a meaningful difference. I'd be happy to hear from readers who think otherwise. And I'd really like to hear from anyone who's tried that oddball "facial toner" gizmo (bmrbeauty.com) that I've seen in magazine ads lately. (It looks like white earmuffs for your cheeks.) Does it really achieve "natural, effortless beauty"? Incidentally, the ads don't list the price. Here's why: an eye-popping $395!
A lot of readers felt John's pain when he recently ranted here about the difficulty of peeling off price stickers and the "sticky mess" they leave behind. Many (Sue McG., Chris, Annette R. and others) wrote that a low-heat blast from a hair dryer does the job. Other suggestions: Avon Skin So Soft bath oil (KMK), any cooking oil (Janice B., Audrey D.), lighter fluid (Nancy B., Penny K.) and, intriguingly, peanut butter (Laura S., Jan F., Betty).
Have you noticed how awful men have looked lately, especially the athletes that look like "cave men" who don't shave? What woman would want to kiss a piece of sandpaper? Now you see the guys on the street who look like bums. How unattractive they look. They might think they are 'cool' when they aren't. And you don't want to hear what I think about those tattoos on men and women. If only they weren't permanent — when they start regretting having them done it will be too late. Needless to say, not all fashions are great.
— Irene S.
Dear Irene: Judging from the success of my anti-capri pants battle, the chances of eradicating the twin trends of tattoos and male stubble are zip, zero, zilch.
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