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Answer Angel

All aflutter about fake eyelashes

Filling in sparse eyelashes, finding flattering dresses and more beauty and fashion advice

Ellen Warren

1:00 AM EST, February 20, 2014

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Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My question is about false eyelashes. I had beautiful, long and lush upper and lower eyelashes. They were one of my best features. But as I get older, my eyelashes have grown thin and shorter. My lower lashes are almost nonexistent, so I don't even use mascara on the lower lashes anymore. I'm very curious about false eyelashes, but I don't know where to start. Does price matter? Different types of materials for lashes? My style is business casual with a bit of flair. I'm in my 50s and want to dress age appropriately. Are false eyelashes too young looking for me? Questions, questions, questions!

— Deb R.

Dear Deb: Answers, answers, answers! Let's start with the age issue. No, false eyelashes emphatically are not "too young looking." All it takes is a little common sense. You'd look ridiculous in Kim Kardashian-style lashes (who wouldn't?). She looks like she's wearing hairy spiders on her eyelids. You'll want something a little more natural. There are three ways to go:

Eyelash strips that you glue on your upper lash line

Individual lashes interspersed with your own, applied by a salon professional

Latisse, a prescription treatment that grows longer, fuller lashes (Several friends who used it reported noteworthy results.)

Strips range in price from a couple dollars for synthetics to a little more for human hair and $20-plus for mink. I think the low-priced synthetics can look quite natural. (Check amazon.com for the range of choices.) If they're too long or fake looking, you can cut them down, but the real trick is in the application. YouTube.com videos will help you there. But to hide the strip and the glue (specifically formulated to not harm eyes), you have to apply liquid eyeliner, which is tricky. Strips are the cheapest way to go and take practice. At best they last for a couple days.

The salon-applied individual lashes ($75 and up) require touch-ups every four to eight weeks, so you're looking at a major annual investment.

Prescription Latisse goes on the top lash line at bedtime. An initial investment of about $120 could show results in six to eight weeks, but you'll need to keep at it, or your lashes will be back to normal in a month or two. So, again, a major investment.

As you can tell, none of these solutions is ideal. I'd try the do-it-yourself strip method to get an idea of how you'll look, then decide if you want to spend the money on one of the other two options or to just paste the strips on (only for special occasions?). (If you find the DIY daunting, you can buy them and have them installed at a department store makeup counter.) In the meantime, slather on the mascara (even on your skimpy lower lashes) and curse the aging process.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Up until now, my husband and I have exercised on our own treadmill in the privacy of our home. But we've moved into an apartment building with a beautiful gym that offers exercise classes, personal trainers, etc. At home we'd wear whatever feels comfortable, shabby as it may be. Now I'm wondering what to wear at the rather elegant gym? I hate sweatsuits: too big, too baggy, too warm. But I can't see myself, or my husband, walking into a public setting in spandex either. Any suggestions?

— Pumping Iron

Dear P.I.: There's plenty of options that aren't baggy or skintight. Cruise through Lululemon or Athleta and see a whole world of options, most of them expensive. Then consider buying similar styles at discounters like T. J. Maxx (tjmaxx.com) and Marshalls (marshallsonline.com for locations), where I find men's and women's brand-name workout wear like Puma, Adidas and Nike at great prices. Also, check out giant retailers like Wal-Mart, where I've bought White Stag, Hanes and Danskin tops and bottoms that look good, hold up in the wash and don't show off too much or too little.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am searching for a dress for a family wedding, and I am so frustrated. I have looked in person and online and can't seem to find anything. Here is what I'm having trouble with: I am not middle aged and I am not a teenager. I am in my 30s and have had two kids. I have more curves than I used to but am by no means plus size. I'm a 10 or 12. All of this means that I don't want a dress that looks matronly, but I want something that covers my rear end and doesn't look like I'm off to prom. Empire waists and pinch pleats just accentuate the baby belly I haven't lost and make me look pregnant again. Yes, I have the suck-it-in undergarments, but is it asking too much for a dress that minimizes the middle? I also have a large chest, so strapless is not something I'm comfortable in. Am I too picky, or am I looking in the wrong places?

— Jennifer S.

Dear Jennifer: You're not too picky, and you're not alone. I once spent three full days helping a friend find a flattering dress to wear to a wedding, with all the same frustrations you've encountered. Why don't designers and retailers get it? Why should it be so hard? We finally found a few decent (but not perfect) options at a department store that had a few racks of the Lauren label from Ralph Lauren. The dress we finally settled on had some draping to minimize the middle, sleeves to the elbow and a neckline that didn't reveal too much, at a cost well under $200. There's a market out there for a one-stop shop that sells flattering dresses for real women who want to be stylish and comfortable. If only such a place existed! (If you readers know of one, I'd love to hear from you, and so would the rest of womankind.)

Reader Rant

My rant: Pantyhose manufactured for dwarfs. Even if you buy "tall" size, the crotch will only come up as far as your knees. I assume that makers design them for the one woman out of 100 who has no thighs.

— Chris

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