Dear Answer Angel Ellen: A male friend has a decent body, but he has a paunch. His choices of turtlenecks, buttoned cardigan sweaters and fitted polo shirts call attention to his stomach. How can I steer him away from those and toward something more flattering. And, what would be more flattering?
— A Caring Pal
And, from the other side of the gender highway …
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What is the best way to hide a spreading belly? It looks as if I am carrying a watermelon in a pouch. Camouflage, please.
Dear Caring Pal and Judith: The fat stomach clearly is a universal problem since I can't seem to get rid of those "burn belly fat" pop-ups on my computer screen. (A side note: Diet and exercise work. Period.)
For advice on how to conceal a blubbery gut, however, I tapped into the wisdom of Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom's fashion creative director. Stay away from knits. "They cling to every lump and bulge," Andrews says. Steer your guy friend to wovens (cotton shirts), "which are very in style now in long and short sleeves, and they're much more forgiving."
If the fellow insists on cardigans, those with a deeper V-neck, fewer buttons and buttons lower down on the sweater are the best choices. As a cardigan alternative, Andrews suggests a blazer or vest (not a sweater vest). Button the fabric vest, and adjust it with the strap in the back. Choose a color similar to the pants "to elongate his body and camouflage the stomach area."
And, one more thing: Don't tell the guy that his clothes choices "aren't flattering." The expected response to that, says Andrews, is "I don't really care." Instead, show him alternatives that are "better for a man with your build." That's more likely to get a positive response.
As for the woman with the (talk about candor!) watermelon stomach, knits and jersey (T-shirt material) are the enemies here too because of the cling factor. Direct the focus away from the midsection with a V-neck or lower neckline. "Jewelry around the face like necklaces and earrings are a great way to divert the eye to the upper part of the body," says Andrews. Another trick is "accentuating the smallest part of her body. For most women it is that area right under the bust line so chose something that has an empire waist," Andrews says. But avoid anything shapeless or too flowy. "Too much volume can add inches," he says. Finally, yes, dark colors do help minimize.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I liked your columns on the CC and BB creams, but I don't feel compelled to give up a product you recommended several years ago. It's L'Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Makeup and L'Oreal Super-Blendable Powder. Both are available in dozens of shades. (Actually, more than 30.) I've bought the much more expensive Lancome versions, and I don't think they're as good. Is there any reason I would be happier with CC or BB than my old L'Oreal that doesn't have any double initials?
Dear L.K.: To mix cliches, if it ain't broke, stick with a winner. If the L'Oreal combo of makeup and powder works for you by all means keep at it. The BB (for "Beauty Balm") and CC (for "Color Correction") creams are really just tinted moisturizer. They offer less coverage than regular foundation, and your face will be shinier than it is with your current regimen. By the way, the L'Oreal versions of the CC and BB creams have, by far, the least coverage of any of the brands I tested.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What's your thinking on the proper form of thank-yous for gifts when the giver and recipient are both young? Meaning is it OK for my kids to text or email their cool, young aunts to thank them for their gifts? I don't think a written note would be more appreciated than the immediacy of an excited text. Or am I just a lazy parent?
— Tired of Nagging
Dear Tired: You're not lazy. You're modern! I never thought I would say this, but I've come around and now accept that a text or email is an OK substitute for a handwritten note if the following two conditions are met: 1. It really is "immediate" and "excited" and not just some boilerplate "Thank u 4 blah blah. It is very nice." 2. The gift givers are constantly communicating by text and would probably have to be resuscitated if a handwritten thank-you note arrived via U.S. mail.
That said, I think your kids definitely need to write notes to us traditionalists who still manage to sit for hours without applying our thumbs to our smartphones. In other words, I think parents should teach their kids the value of written thank-yous.
I know my niece/goddaughter Olivia has long been warned by her mom that if she does not send a thank-you, she gets cut off from future gifts from Aunt Ellen. That cutoff policy is crass, punitive and violates the spirit of giving. And I love it!
Tracy has a good suggestion after reading the recent rant from T.L.G. that packages sit at her front door for hours because the delivery people don't ring the bell: "I've always hated not knowing when packages would arrive. It's especially annoying when they won't leave the package and you have to chase UPS down. Well, I can't entirely solve T.L.G.'s problem — but she may appreciate becoming part of UPS My Choice (ups.com/mychoice). It's a free service that will let you set delivery preferences and keep you informed when a package is on its way and even let you 'reroute' the package (for a fee) if you know you're not going to be home. I use it, and it's nice knowing when packages are scheduled to arrive."
I live in heels just because I love them. I've never had a pair of heels, expensive or inexpensive, that didn't need the bottom of the heel replaced. They don't last! My most recent pair of expensive Michael Kors cute-as-ever boots were purchased in September and need new heels already! Sends me through the roof! Maybe I walk like a dork, but come on! I'm ready to start a revolution with these manufacturers.
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