November 1, 2013
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I've been trying to find somewhere to get my hair done. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom did it, and she's the only one I would trust. But she hasn't been well, and it's time to find a new stylist. Family members have sent me to several places, but I haven't been satisfied. My question: I see people walking down the street with cute hairstyles, and I want to ask them who does their hair, but I don't know if it would be weird. Is it?
— Star R.
Dear Star: Do it! That's how I found my best stylist ever. I walked up to a total stranger and asked her where she got her wonderful haircut. She was flattered — and happy to tell me. I've done the same thing with women whose clothes I admire. Just last week I stopped a young woman walking down the street to ask where she bought her pants. She seemed to savor the compliment. Same goes for the woman during our office fire drill who was wearing an adorable shirt. And now I have one too.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I've been working on a project with a woman who is getting married soon. I don't know her super-well and am not invited to the wedding (and wasn't expecting to be). But I really like her and would like to get her a little wedding gift. I was thinking of something related to our line of work (which is writing grant proposals). Any ideas?
Dear L.K.K.: Angel at your service. Blenders, Crock-Pots and wine glasses are fine, I guess, but I love the idea of something that isn't on the registry, doesn't have a bar code and doesn't take a mere couple of clicks of the mouse to pay for and send. For unique items, handmade, go to etsy.com. No matter what the theme — from architecture to zoology — you'll find gifts that incorporate something unique or crafters who are willing to do custom work. For your writer friend, how about a gift with typewriters on it? Just one example: typewriter bowls at $18 apiece on Etsy at the online shop thatwhichisnot.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Right now, I could use a tutorial on necklaces. I love that women seem to be wearing them more lately. I have a few sets of matching earrings and necklaces, but I don't really like to be matchy-matchy. What are guidelines for pairing earrings and necklaces? Do you think dangly earrings look OK with shorter necklaces? Or should necklaces and earrings both be either longer or shortish? Also, do metals or materials or colors have to match, or just "go together"? My husband likes to buy me "good" jewelry, and I love costume jewelry; can they ever be mixed? And how do you match necklines to necklaces — should the jewelry clear the neckline (above or below) by a certain distance? Do you think the newish "bib" styles are worth investing in? And if you wear a more conspicuous necklace, should you tone down or forget bracelets (which are my absolute favorite kind of jewelry)?
— T. C.
Dear T.C.: Whoa, that's a lot of questions. Slow down and enjoy your jewelry. There really are no rules, or at least none that can't be ignored! I'm crazy about statement necklaces, armloads of bracelets, and big and bold earrings. Just not all at once. Pick one body part to adorn at a time. Then go wild there and stay tame in the other regions. Like you, I'm not crazy about "sets" of matchy-matchy bracelet/necklace/earrings. They just should complement one another in color or type of stone. Experiment. Good jewelry and costume jewelry can (and should!) be mixed. And none of this costume stuff has to be expensive. Charming Charlie (charmingcharlie.com) and Forever 21(forever21.com) have huge selections at amazing prices. As for length of necklace, anything goes. A long one will elongate the body. You don't mention rings, but there are some real eye-poppers in stores now, and that's another fun option (but don't forget the manicure).
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Two seasons ago I purchased a faux fur vest in black. Is it an item to keep or should it be given to charity? If I do keep it, how should it be worn to keep it up-to-date?
Dear K.D.: Your vest is still up-to-date. I just got back from New York, where stores are filled with them. If it's not too bulky, you can belt it for a different look. But if you're sick of it and it's just taking up space in your closet, for sure donate it and let someone else enjoy it for a while.
My recent response to Deborah, who wanted pants and jeans that fit her small waist but still accommodated her hips and thighs — the classic hourglass figure — prompted some solid reader suggestions. Karen D. writes, "Many brands of jeans and slacks make a 'Curvy' variety that address this issue. You might think that Curvy=Fat, but it is actually for body shapes like hers, and mine." "Curvy" recommendations included Eddie Bauer (eddiebauer.com) from Melissa; Levi "Supreme Curve" (levi.com) from Suzie; and Talbots (talbots.com) from Carmella.
My big complaint is the expense of being a bridesmaid. I've been asked to be in five weddings this year, and I can't afford it anymore. One of my girlfriends picked a $450 dress for the bridesmaids, and the bachelorette party involves a trip to Vegas. I'm still in school with no income (but lots of student loan debt). P.S. I will never wear these dresses again. Every one of them is ugly and impractical.
Dear Erin: For those who don't know that brides can be impossible, just watch a couple episodes of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" — case closed. You can say no to your friend in the nicest way, explaining you're broke (and broken-hearted you can't participate). But give her plenty of notice so she can find a substitute. Or, you and the other bridesmaids can suggest less expensive alternatives in a similar style/color. Don't expect either of the suggestions to work, but wouldn't it be a wonderful surprise if they did?
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