Detailing helps flesh out a thin figure


Q: My problem is that I am very thin. I want to buy a drop-dead evening dress for summer, but I don't want it cut on the bias. This may be the current rage, but on me all it does is show off my hip bones. What's an alternative?

A: A dress with detailing such as embroidery, shirring, ruffles, flared or gathered skirts will help disguise your thin figure.

And, according to Rome designer Valentino, they will also "highlight your femininity."

With his spring collection Valentino makes a strong statement for a return to the romantic styles that he says "flatter women most.

"We have all become confused," he says. "Fashion has moved too fast, we must go back to beauty -- to color, to shapes, to detailing. Beautiful, flattering clothes are what women really want."

Q: I've been overweight for 10 years and have always thought that I have a round face. To give it length I've worn my hair in a geometric style, slightly layered with the hair longer on top and shorter at the sides.

With help of a doctor I recently lost 25 pounds, only to discover that I have a long, thin face. I need some suggestions for a new hairstyle, fast.

A: Ishi of Manhattan's Salon Ishi agrees that it's time for a change: "A more natural look will soften the shape of your face. You'll need to grow out your geometric cut.

"In the meantime, frame your face by having your hair cut and slightly layered on top. Go for a 'sexy look' with multi-faceted texture detailed to flatter your face."

Ishi adds a word of praise for your discipline and determination. "Congratulations on losing weight," he said. "A sexy cut with movement will complement your new style and make you feel great."

Q: I have a clear green jade pendant on a gold chain that my father bought for my mother. He was in the Navy and brought it back from the Orient to celebrate my birth.

I've heard that jade comes in several colors with different values and that the quality varies depending on the shade. Is that true? I'd like to know more about jade and what its different colors signify in quality and value.

A: Hong Kong jewelry designer Kai-Yin Lo, who collects rare jade as well as using it in her work, has a wealth of information about it.

"It seems you may have a special stone," she says, "and all the more so as it was a gift from your father to your mother."

According to Chinese tradition, jade fell from heaven and thus symbolizes wisdom, justice, charity, courage and modesty. It is believed to protect the health and fortune of the wearer.

"There are two types of jade," Ms. Lo notes, "jadeite and nephrite. Your clear green jade is undoubtedly jadeite."

While many people are familiar only with green jade, Ms. Lo says that it "also is found in yellow, mauve, orange, violet and black, as well as many shades of green -- spinach and apple green, for instance. The most highly prized is emerald green, which is usually referred to as imperial green. The greener and more translucent the material, the more costly. Of course, the size of the piece also affects its value."

While your pendant is obviously beautiful as it is, Ms. Lo suggests you try wearing it different ways.

"Slip it off the chain and hang it on a velvet or satin ribbon for parties. Tie it choker length so the jade nestles at the base of your throat. That's a very romantic look."

Kai-Yin Lo says she hopes your "magical stone" will bring you much joy.

Q: I'm getting married in Chicago later this year to a conservative businessman. I'm planning everything I'll wear down to the smallest detail. While we have been living together for some time, I want to buy a red satin nightgown to surprise him on our wedding night.

When I told my mother, she was shocked. She insists only white is appropriate. What do you think?

A: I say go for the red. New York lingerie designer Josie Natori agrees. She believes brides should wear what they feel comfortable in.

"Brides today have their own standards of dress. There are no rules except for a traditionalist like your mother. Obviously you're not one. So, go with your fantasy."

Elsa Klensch is style editor for Cable News Network.

Elsa Klensch welcomes questions from readers. While she cannot reply individually, she will answer those of general interest in her column. Send questions to Elsa Klensch, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90012.

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