October 11, 2013
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I'm desperate to know which brands of slacks and jeans have small waists in proportion to hips and thighs. I don't have time or energy to try on a gazillion pairs. In the past I looked for elastic in the back of the waistband, but is this necessary? I'm 5-foot-3 and 127 pounds, but if I try petites, they are usually too short. Help!
Dear Deborah: This is a good problem to have. But it's still a problem. For years now, stores have almost exclusively offered those stupid low-rise jeans and pants that create a muffin top for even the leanest among us. Finally, however, waistlines are creeping upward, and those higher-waist pants of the '70s are coming back in style, so flattering to women like you who have a small waist to show off! It's about time. But even then, it's not easy to find the perfect fit. So you might have to just swallow hard, spend the cash and find a tailor (at your dry cleaners?) to alter them. As for reliable brands, I like the higher-waist options at NYDJ (nydj.com). But there's no brand I know of that truly specializes in fitting small-waisted women. I'm not a fan of the elastic waistband. If you really want adjustable, consider a draw string. I've sporadically found some at H&M (hm.com) and Old Navy (oldnavy.com) at great prices and, miraculously, they don't look bunchy. Trying on pants is a huge ordeal, but it's the only way to find a good fit. And just when you find the perfect ones, they'll stop making them!
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Every time I walk through the cosmetics sections of department stores, I wonder if those expensive face creams are worth it. Do they really reduce the signs of age?
— Forever Young
Dear Forever: A while back, with the help of three co-workers, I tested 13 anti-aging products. The prices ranged from $11.99 (drugstore L'Oreal) to $285 (La Mer, the cultish choice of stars and socialites). None of them made us look much younger or vanished our wrinkles. But in almost every case, we liked the cheaper ones better. Ours was a purely personal — not scientific — trial. So I was eager to read a recent article from the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail that scientifically measured results of a monthlong skin test by writer Claire Cisotti, 46. She used cheapo Nivea Creme (about $1.49/ounce) on half her face and the luxurious Creme de La Mer moisturizing cream that costs almost 100 times as much (about $142.50/ounce) on the other half. Unlike our test, Cisotti's was scientific. She had her skin scanned before and after with a machine developed by NASA that measures "wrinkles, sun damage, redness and pore size." An expert concluded that Nivea performed better; that the cheap Nivea side of her face retained better hydration, she reported. She wrote: "While I felt that both creams made my skin look great, if you can get better results for a fraction of the price of Creme de la Mer … the winner is obvious." That's a wordy way to answer your question: If I were you, I'd buy the cheap stuff and use the savings to splurge on some cute shoes.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you have any suggestions where I can learn to apply makeup? Right now I usually wear a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, cream blush, under-eye concealer, powder, mascara and lip gloss or lipstick. That is for both day and evening. I would like to find someone to teach me how to apply makeup, especially using eye makeup.
— Margaret K.
Dear Margaret: Sounds like you've already got your makeup bachelor's degree. It's time for cosmetics grad school. Some Sephora beauty super stores (sephora.com) offer a variety of free classes and makeup sessions (45 minutes with a $50 purchase, or twice the time if you spend $125). Many department store makeup counters offer free walk-in and by-appointment lessons. Pick a sales associate whose makeup you admire and ask for help. Their job is to sell you cosmetics, but ask for samples, try them at home, then come back to buy.
Solving the mystery of holes turning up in the waist area of your T-shirts, I recently wrote they're caused by rubbing against buttons, zippers or belt prongs. But you wised me up to some other culprits. A big contributor to the problem — thank you Bev, Ann and others — is the shirt rubbing against the rough edges of stone, granite and marble kitchen counters. Solutions? Aprons, tuck in your shirt, have the edges of stone counters smoothed by an expert, tape over the rough counter spots with clear tape. Michele says her seat belt rubs her shirt against the button/zipper of her pants, causing holes. She leaves a hand towel in the car to put between the seat belt and her shirt. Finally, S.D. recommends the (sort of ugly) invisibelt (invisibelt.com) with a smooth buckle that could protect your shirt from rubbing against the pants button.
This past week I went into a local small shop, and most of the merchandise was made of this tissue-paper thin, poorly dyed, drooping fabric. The shop's owner assured me most was American made. Yesterday, I went to a department store and didn't feel much better about what was available there. I feel like Rip Van Winkle. Are the manufacturers of cloth waiting for those customers who know better to die out? If this is the fabric clothes are made of now, can it get any worse?
— Gloria K.
Dear Gloria: It can get worse. And will. Increasingly, clothes are made not to last. Sure, we don't expect fast (cheap) fashion to hold up for years, but paying serious cash for garments that disintegrate is infuriating and all too common! Save your receipts and complain to the store manager.
Shop, drop, then get help
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