Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Are shoulder pads in blouses still "in"? If so, does the size of the pad matter? Also when wearing a shirt/overblouse, is the length critical, and does it make a difference if the hem line is straight or curved like a shirttail?
— Mary Anne E.
Dear Mary Anne E.: Shoulder pads are out of fashion right now. They'll be back. Everything comes back. (Platform shoes, maxi dresses, demure lady purses to name but three.) However, at this fashion moment, you'll want to lose the pads. "Yank those bad boys out. Then insert them into your bra for a little boost," advised fashion expert Susan Swimmer, who was only half kidding. "Reuse, recycle." Swimmer, contributing fashion features editor for More magazine and my go-to resource when it comes to practical advice on what to wear, said you occasionally still find garments with shoulder pads in stores (mostly in structured jackets). But she says to remove the pads when you get your jacket home. As for the shirttail issue, both curved and straight are fine. But, either way, you do not want it to hit mid-butt since that's the widest part of most women and an area that most of us would prefer not to call to anybody's attention. A great alternative and more forgiving over pants is a tunic (curved or straight hem) that's fingertip length.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I understand that the new iPhone is going to be larger than the current 5s phones. This will mean that it won't fit in the interior pouches on purses designed to hold cell phones. Is there an expandable pouch that you can attach to the inside of a purse?
— Fumbling for my phone
Dear Fumbling: You mean you don't walk around with your phone in your hand, checking it every four seconds, especially when walking across a busy street or driving at breakneck speeds? You actually tuck the thing in your purse and only look at it once in a while? Well, good for you! What you're looking for is a wristlet. It's a little zipper bag with a small strap that — guess what — you can put around your wrist. But it definitely can serve as an in-your-purse phone pouch, and you can attach the wrist strap to your larger purse strap. Charming Charlie (charmingcharlie.com) has a variety of them starting at only $10, and you can find others at virtually any store that carries purses and accessories. Just check the measurements to make sure it will accommodate a phone a little bit larger than the one you have.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you have recommendations for cotton casual T-shirts? I have tried many different brands, and they look good for just a few washings and then they lose shape and creep up my belly. The ones available today are of much worse quality than even a few years ago. Can you recommend something that lasts longer than half a season?
Dear Dale: Does it have to be all cotton? I'm wild about the AIRism short-sleeve Ts from uniqlo.com, which I wear almost every day in spring and summer. Here's the description from the website: "Smooth microfiber dries quickly and deodorizes." And they're only $12.90. The site also has all-cotton Ts for the same price, but I haven't tested them. My colleague Barbara Brotman is very satisfied with her 100 percent cotton Faded Glory short-sleeve crew-neck T-shirts from Wal-Mart (walmart.com) which held up in the dryer. At $4.94 you sure can't beat the price.
Scores of thoughtful readers responded to Colleen's plea for suggestions on what to do with all the barely used hair products she'd tried but didn't like. The most votes went to donating them to a women's or homeless shelter, nursing home, food pantry or charity, and that goes for toiletries from hotel rooms too. Many readers suggested freecycle.org. Others said to give them away at the neighborhood garage/rummage sale. D.H. wrote, "My favorite idea is to return products you don't like as soon as you buy them and discover they don't work for you. I, too, have had this closet full of products I didn't like/didn't work (mostly for taming of curly hair), and realized I was tired of wasting that money. Most stores will take returns now even on an opened product — just don't abuse their generosity by returning 10 items every week and all is well." And Glory B. included links to sites that offer creative uses for leftover shampoo (bit.ly/1kMpvLV) and conditioner (bit.ly/1oX1f1f).
SJD writes: "So what's so great about bare legs? I've always worn pantyhose for work, church and social occasions — with dresses, skirts and trousers. They look neat, keep your feet/shoes from smelling, smooth out bulges and (sort of) hide varicose veins, scars, moles and that unfortunate bruise from kneeling on the hedge clipper. Not to mention the pain of shoes rubbing against your bare heels and toes. Why should I go around hoseless purely for the sake of fashion? Sure, they're hot in summer, but come on, I don't live on the beach. And what valid alternative do I have?"
Dear SJD: Footies and knee-high hose (under pants but never under skirts, even maxis) are two alternatives. Many women have told me they think going barelegged is barbaric (and ugly). You don't see the future queen of England, the fashionable Kate, going barelegged, so you're in excellent company.
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