July 19, 2013
Dear Answer Angel: You make me jealous when you write about fashion finds at thrift and consignment stores. The ones I've been in are disorganized and filled with ratty sweaters and stretched-out T-shirts. Any tips on how to find the best shops?
Dear Adrianne: My No. 1 tip: Follow the money. Resale shops in high-end neighborhoods are more likely to turn up high-end fashions at prices you and I can — finally — afford. Women with lots of disposable income seem to tire of their clothes more quickly than the rest of us and they often donate or consign them when they're barely worn. In fact, in a consignment shop in a fancy East Coast neighborhood I found my go-to winter trousers — Giorgio Armani with the tags still on — for about 20 percent of what they'd cost in the store. Tony warm-weather havens in places like Florida and Arizona are always a good bet, especially for cold-weather clothes the snowbirds are shedding. But don't ignore serendipity and good luck. I was in a dump of a shop that looked hopeless until I came across a perfect black pencil skirt — for $8. Patience can turn up treasures where you least expect them.
Dear Answer Angel: Sun hats are cute and fashionable, but if I wear one to a wedding do I have to take it off for an indoor reception?
Dear Hats Off: I hate giving weaselly answers like this: It depends. If the hat is a genuine sun hat — like you might wear at the beach — stow it for the reception. But a wide-brimmed straw (perhaps with a feather or flower adornment) like the Brits wear to weddings and garden parties would be totally appropriate at the daytime reception. Ask yourself, "What would Kate Middleton do?" Then do it.
Dear Answer Angel: Are really sparkly toenail polishes in fashion or garish?
Dear Twinkle Toes: Both. And that's a good thing. How can glitter on your toes be anything but garish? And what could be more summer fun than bedazzled piggies peeking out from sandals or flip-flops? You didn't ask about wearing sparkles on your fingers. Maybe not for a stuffy workplace, but otherwise, I say why not?
Dear Answer Angel: I have several colorful silky scarves that have a small, white designer tag attached. The tags are in the rolled hem and don't have a simple thread to clip to remove them. I could cut the tags off as close to the hem as possible, but there would be a ragged, frayed white edge remaining. I have tried to fold the scarves when I wear them so the tag doesn't show, but on a long skinny rectangle shape, that doesn't work. What is the solution?
Dear A.S.: By coincidence I was confronted with this precise problem yesterday when I put on a new rectangular scarf/stole with a stupid and hard-to-hide white tag sewn on to the edge. Don't get me started: Why don't manufacturers think twice about their customers? I used a very, very pointy small scissors and clipped the threads that held the tag on. But sometimes, as you describe of your predicament, that's hard to do. In your case, try cutting of the tag as close as possible to the scarf (be careful!) then (and this takes forever) use a needle to pick at the remains of the tag thread by thread until it is removed. Some people recommend a seam ripper from a craft or sewing store. I've found they're not sharp enough and don't do the job.
Dear Answer Angel: I avoid showing off my numerous spider veins to innocent bystanders as much as possible by wearing pants or hosiery. But what about some unsightly birthmarks on my neck and upper back? It seems cruel to wear sleeveless blouses, tank tops and collar-free shirts, forcing those behind me to wince or look away. But, oh, they are so cool in the summer. What do you think?
Dear Nancy: If you're self-conscious about your birthmarks, I'd say there are plenty of tops made with featherweight fabrics that are cool but cover up the areas you don't want to show. Another alternative is a gauzy, lightweight scarf used as a shawl. I've seen them on sale recently for less than $10. But be sure there's enough fabric since some are pretty skimpy. Here are a few frugal suggestions to get you started: Gap (gap.com), Old Navy (oldnavy.com), Wal-Mart (walmart.com), Forever 21 (forever21.com) and Uniqlo (uniqlo.com).
And speaking of the sleeveless look …
Dear Answer Angel: Is there an age above which women should not wear sleeveless tops? My little sister swears anyone over about 45 should never wear sleeveless except when working out or at the beach. This seems harsh to me.
Dear W.: I agree with you. That is harsh. In fashion, there are no rules. But there are some guidelines. If your arms look great (Michelle Obama, 49, and Madonna, 54, come to mind), why wouldn't you want to show them off? On the other hand, crinkly, jiggly upper arms can give away your age when the rest of you looks great. If you don't care, then go sleeveless, but if you find that bothersome, a shrug over a sleeveless shirt or dress would be a better choice. I don't believe in arbitrary age cutoffs for any fashions. A mirror and common sense, not birthdays, should determine what looks good.
And while we're talking sleeveless, here's one more.
Last week my husband and I were dining in a crowded restaurant. The meal was almost ruined by the sight of a young man in a tank top that showcased his tattoos and hairy armpits. And yeah, he was wearing a ball cap.
Guys, if you have to eat while wearing tank tops, take it to the beach or boardwalk. Thanks!
then get help
Send your rants and questions — on style, shopping, beauty and makeup — to answerangel@
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC