Pink can be a powerful ally with the right 'professional' touches


Q: I am a nurse and work in the emergency room of a large city hospital. When I'm not in white or green uniform, I wear pink. I have pink suits, pink blouses, pink dresses, even pink shoes. After the sterile white of the hospital I find pink feminine and cheerful.

Then last month I was elected president of a nurses' organization, so I will have to chair meetings and make speeches. I've been told rather pointedly that pink is not a businesslike color. I agree.

I'm short and have a good figure. What goes with pink? Can I keep certain pink favorites as accessories? Help!

A: Faxed between fashion shows, Isaac Mizrahi's answer arrived fast and clear: "Anything goes with pink if it's handled properly."

He adds: "I do think it would be courageous of you to try the all-pink look in a conservative setting. But if you are afraid of not being taken seriously, you might try a black suit with a pink blouse. Or a pink sweater set with camel trousers. A pink coat over gray flannel is heaven."

Q: I'm getting ready to go on a cruise this winter with my husband, but I'm not looking forward to it as much as I should. He likes to spend a lot of time around the pool. I hate it because I never feel confident about the way I look.

While I am quite slim, I have a very full bust and burst through practically every suit I buy. What should I look for in a suit that is likely to flatter me?

A: I went to Miriam Ruzow of Gottex of Israel with your problem.

She says to find a suit that is flattering, comfortable and well-fitting you must look at its inner construction. "These include power-net linings, underwires, soft or foam padding or hard cups. One of these is sure to fit well and give you an attractive shape."

She also suggests trying different necklines -- from square shapes to mock surplices -- for a more pleasing look. As to colors and patterns, the range is extremely wide. But, Ms. Ruzow says, check out the stripes.

"We engineer these very carefully so they flatter the figure. Some of the optical illusions amaze even me."

Q: My husband has a bad body image. He's overweight, but not fat. As an ex-football player, he's very conscious of his excess weight, and whenever he buys clothes he goes for the extra-large size, although he could comfortably fit into a large.

As a result his shirts, pants and jackets make him look bigger than he is. How can I persuade him to buy the right size? When I really insist, he just walks out of the store, saying I'm a tyrant. Am I?

A: It appears that you are fighting a losing battle. Give up on him and concentrate on your own looks.

Q: Because the magazines are pushing brown as the new color for fall, I tried on a brown designer suit on sale and I fell for it. It is so new it has a fitted short jacket (that shows off my waist) and an A-line skirt (that hides my thighs).

My problem is I only have black shoes and they look so heavy. I can't afford new accessories, and the store won't take it back. What can I do?

A: Just as there are many shades of brown in ready-to-wear, there are many shades in pantyhose as well. Your best bet is to take your skirt to the store and find pantyhose in the same tone as your skirt, but in a deeper shade.

This gradation of brown to deeper brown to black will be softer than your shoes and will look fine.

I'd wear a cream shirt or sweater under the jacket. This way you're mixing three neutrals, a sure formula for a chic look.

Elsa Klensch is Style Editor for Cable News Network. Her weekend program can be seen on CNN. Check local listings for show times.

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