Young or old, we've all got wardrobe issues. But, worry no more. You've got an angel on your shoulder ... and in your closet!
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My daughter is almost 12, just started middle school, and I feel as if she's almost hiding in her clothes. She wears baggy T-shirts and oversize jeans. The last thing I want to do is make her feel bad about her appearance. Any suggestions?
— Wondering Mom
Dear Mom: It's tough being an almost teenager. New school, new friends, changing body and so much more. A friend of mine had a similar situation with her daughter, and she had great success following this motto: When in doubt, go shopping. She took her daughter on a Mom and Me excursion to buy her a couple of new outfits. The daughter picked them out — but with some gentle nudging from mom to choose clothes that had a little more style and a better silhouette. If your budget doesn't allow this kind of spending, go to a local thrift store; "thrifting" is popular among girls of all ages these days, including me! What my friend did after the shopping spree was take some before-and-after photos, and then she asked her daughter what she thought of herself in each. In the before photos, she said "the person" seemed sloppy and lazy. In the new outfits, she said "the person" was cute, fun and cool. My friend says it was clear that her daughter felt better about herself in clothes that fit and were more suitable to her age. She also picked up her game on hygiene issues like keeping her hair clean. She's still tomboyish — nothing wrong with that — but with more self-confidence. Victory!
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: One of my closest guy friends has asked me to go with him to a wedding this fall. He is an inch or two shorter than I am, so I probably shouldn't wear heels. I know fancy flats are everywhere these days; I am just wondering what style of dress I should wear with them. I was thinking of trying a maxi-style dress, but I am not sure. It is a nighttime wedding with cocktail attire. He will be wearing a tux as he is in the wedding. Thanks!
Dear Em: I appreciate that you don't want to be taller than your friend, but like so many things (flip-flops at the office; shorts at church), it doesn't seem to matter anymore. Do you think those Amazon models care if they tower over their teensy movie star boyfriends? No way. But back to your question: A maxi would be a fine choice for the wedding, but it should be in a heavier fabric than that skimpy, clingy T-shirt material that so many of them are made of. Dress it up with a statement necklace or glittery earrings and a fancy little clutch, not a shoulder strap bag. And please, oh please, make sure the maxi doesn't drag on the floor no matter what shoes you wear (and "fancy flats" would be an excellent choice).
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am not fond of my apple-shaped body. I don't always know which new trend is appropriate for me, until I see someone else wearing it, and think "Oh no! I hope I don't look like that." Any classic or trendy clothing style advice for a size 12 apple-body?
Dear Melody: Do not get me started on how hard it is for an average American woman — size 14 or 16 — to find stylish fashions. And heaven forbid if we have a figure flaw or two (flabby upper arms, big butt, fat ankles, etc.). If only there were a go-to store that would fill all our fashion needs. (Suggestions welcome!) For you, Melody, I consulted with plus-size stylist Stephanie Sack (firstname.lastname@example.org), an apple shape herself. She recommends a fitted pant such as boot-cut leggings or jeans with a tunic or top that covers but doesn't cling to the troublesome stomach area. Check out the "pretty cami" and "pretty flutter top" at swakdesigns.com and the "ponte boot-cut" legging at lysse.com to see what she's talking about. For dresses, think about a wrap that has a blouse-y top. V-necks and scoop necks are your friends. A really supportive bra is a must. A long necklace adds length down your middle. If your legs are great, show them off in a short skirt, but add a structured jacket that reaches the hip.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am 64 years old, 4 feet 11 inches tall and weigh 110 pounds. I'm in pretty good shape. Can I wear leggings? What kind of top would I wear? Long to cover my butt? I sometimes think I am too old for some of these styles. What about skinny jeans? What do you think?
Dear JV: You bet you can wear leggings. Just remember: Leggings aren't pants. Yes, your derriere must be covered, and the longer the top the better. I think leggings look great under a dress or skirt that would otherwise be a little too short (like the "zip-pocket dress" I saw on jcrew.com). Keep in mind that cheap leggings are often a little see-through and that is a definite N-O. Make sure you can't see any hint of flesh through them. And, they should go to the ankle, not capri-length, which will make you look even shorter. Leggings are an outstanding solution for those of us with leg sag or vein issues — as long as you don't wear them with gym shoes or heels. Even kitten heels don't look right. Flats, low wedges, knee-high boots or booties to the ankle are swell. As for your worry that you're too old for some styles? Sure you are. But many of them (like the too-short skirt) can work with the addition of leggings. Skinny jeans in a dark wash can work for women of any age, but in your case, you don't want them to be so tight that they fit like leggings. And remember that skinnies emphasize your backside, so if that's an area you want to downplay, steer clear. Here's my gut-check advice: If whatever you're wearing makes you wonder if it's unsuitable, you're not going to be happy. So skip it.
I take a class at a local community college, but I am way, way past the college age. When I eat lunch in the cafeteria, it is pretty amusing to watch the kids come and go. Most every girl I see is wearing short-shorts. Some girls can do that, but I see some sights that make me blush and are embarrassing. Don't these girls have mirrors? The boys dress a lot better for the most part.
— Margaret N.
Dear Margaret: Yes, they have mirrors. If only they would use them!
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