Q: My daughter has been caught up in the latest rage for young working women: going to secondhand shops to buy clothes. These are not vintage clothing shops but places where they re-sell fashionable clothes that well-off women have discarded. I am worried if the clothes are clean. Can you give me any idea how these businesses are run?
A: By shopping at a resale shop, your daughter may find good quality designer clothes at a fraction of their original cost in department stores or boutiques.
To address your concerns I called Carol Selig, president of Encore, one of Manhattan's best-known resale stores.
She says, "We carefully inspect the items we receive before we accept them. Most have already been dry-cleaned. If not, we send them out immediately. This way we ensure hygiene and high quality."
Ms. Selig added that much of the clothing Encore receives has been worn only a time or two by the seller.
Q: Is there a company that custom-blends lipsticks? I have a particular shade I have worn for years. I used to order it through the mail, but now the firm has gone out of business. I'm down to my last tube and am desperate to find a way to have it duplicated.
How do makeup artists blend their colors? Is this a possibility for the average person? Please help.
A: The company I knew that did custom-blending is probably the same one you used, for it has gone out of business. Perhaps it's because there is such a wide variety of lipstick shades on the market.
For advice I went to Kathleen O'Brien of Prescriptives, the company that custom-blends powder and foundation. It doesn't custom-blend lipstick but it offers lipstick in four distinct color families. Each family goes with a particular skin tone.
Ms. O'Brien offers a trick used by makeup artists that may help you find a perfect match for your discontinued shade. "A makeup artist stores a variety of lipsticks in a subdivided plastic container. This forms a palette for the artist to mix colors to find the right shade for each model and her outfit. Using a brush, the artist does the mixing on the back of the hand.
"If you use this system to experiment with different shades, you may be able to replicate your shade or perhaps even find a new color you like more."
Elsa Klensch is style editor of Cable News Network.