Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have recently made the move to a more modern straight-leg jean, but I'm still finding it hard to wear that style with my tall boots (with all the spandex in jeans now, I have so much bunching at the knees that I end up looking like a pirate by noon). Also, I am not sure whether it's OK to wear straight leg with ankle boots. I tried rolling them up with my "booties" but it seems like a denim doughnut. Right now I am sort of stuck in a rut where all I wear with the straight leg — besides the unsuccessful tucking them in my tall boots — are flats. Do I have to make the move to skinny jeans in order to wear ankle booties these days or is there another option (besides boot cut or trouser, which I love but get sort of tired of)? I am relatively thin (5'6" and 125) but definitely have more going on in the thigh area than the models in most ads and in catalogs.
Dear Jen: Ever since you brought it up, I've been eyeballing women with their jeans tucked into their boots and here's what I've learned: All of them have baggy knees to one degree or another. It goes with the territory. You can buy clip-on elastic things that create stirrups beneath your feet to help hold your jeans in place starting at around $10 (jeanstraps.com; amazon.com). But I've found them to be uncomfortable and not that effective. If you've got really baggy knees, it's possible that the boots are too loose in the calf to help hold the jeans in place. Or, it could be the jeans fabric. You seem to be blaming the spandex, but stretchy is your friend in this case, reducing the bunching, not adding to it. Try thicker, higher-quality denim with more stretch. But no matter what you do, you will still have some bagging. Take comfort: Everybody else does too.
No, you don't need to go to skinnies to wear with your ankle boots. Rolled jeans are the style of the moment, so try again with your straight legs. I bet you'll get used to the "denim doughnut." One cautionary note: Just like wearing those abominable capri pants (there I go again on my anti-capri campaign), rolling up jeans to mid-calf cuts off your legs and makes them look stumpy. Roll 'em to the top of the booties. I should mention that another option with those booties is "jeggings" — denim-ish leggings. I'm not a fan for the very reason you cite. Most women "have more going on in the thigh area" than the glamazons in the ads, and these unforgiving jeggings are not flattering. If you do go the jeggings route, be sure to wear a long tunic over them. They are not pants! One final thought: The most flattering jeans are dark wash with a no-cling fit on the thighs and a straight vertical line from hip to hem.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I've inherited a propensity for baggy under eyes, and it makes me look decades older. Help! Too many products make claims that promise results. Can you help?
Dear Grateful: I'm grateful for your question since it gives me the opportunity to wave a huge yellow caution flag! Nothing you rub, pat or spray on your face is going to eliminate those bags. You can spend hundreds of hard-earned dollars for a teensy jar of goo or buy a vat of some miracle cream at the drugstore for $8.99. Doesn't matter. I've never found a facial cream, lotion or potion that does what it says when it comes to wrinkles, bags, lines or spots. If you must buy something, go cheap because every test I've done shows the costly stuff isn't worth it. You'd be better off heading to a makeup counter where you can get a lesson in hiding your problem (really!) rather than unsuccessfully trying to eliminate it.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am 58 and I will be attending a wedding in December in New York City. So I don't have to buy a new outfit for the rehearsal dinner, could I wear an Ann Taylor black pantsuit with light gray stripes? The pantsuit is lined and made of acetate and polyester, which gives it a nice flow. What can I wear it with to give it a dressy rather than a business look? Could a silver turtleneck work?
Dear Nina: Definitely wear that suit. A silver turtleneck could work. I like rhinestones or sequins to fancy up my black basics. Think about a silver or black sequin T-shirt, which doesn't have to set you back too much (for example, $24.95 at H&M, hm.com; Jessica Simpson, $49.95 at Nordstrom, nordstrom.com). Or, consider a silky silver or dove gray shell with a bombshell necklace.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Are nude heels only a spring/summer thing? Or are they acceptable in fall/winter?
— Out of Season?
Dear Out of Season: "They're acceptable year-round," was the enthusiastic reply when I put your question to style expert Amy Lechelt-Basta (thestylemuse.com). The reason they're popular is because they lengthen the leg, and she suggests wearing them with a nude fishnet, "which is a way to disguise any veining or pasty legs." Or try a subtle hue with a little sparkle. But, steer clear of black or dark brown hose, which provide too harsh a contrast between foot and leg, canceling out the long-leg subterfuge.
Readers weighed in with more suggestions for the woman who wrote in asking where to buy flats that would accommodate her ouchy bunions. (And, by the way, this is an ailment that affects people of all ages, not just older people.) Sharon O. suggests French Sole's (frenchsoleshoes.com) "Passport" flat. "They have all the criteria for a flat. I have them in more colors than I care to admit!" Barbara M. says the "L2" Arcopedico ($79, arcopedicoshoes.com) has been a lifesaver for her aching feet.
Angel Ellen says: I see other cute flats on the French Soles site that look promising too — but at full price they're about $200 and more. They look a lot like the Aerosoles (aerosoles.com) "Nashville" flat that I've recommended (and wear just about every day) and they cost only $69. I'd classify most of the Arcopedico styles as downright hideous and I'm not crazy about the "L2." The "L14 Lagrimas" ($89) in black fabric is the best of the lot. A general rule when buying for comfort: Black, in fabric or suede, is a better choice than regular leather; tan and colors usually are a zero on the cute meter.
I just have to get this off my chest. Why can't merchants provide a HOOK in the ladies' restroom!!? The cost is minimal and means we don't have to wrap our purse around our neck or set it on the dirty floor while we use the facilities. Such a small thing, and it would make women everywhere so happy!
— Barb V.
Dear Barb V.: Amen, sister.
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