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Tired of being shorted


The majority of women in this country are under 5 feet 5 inches tall. So, why do the fashion runways all show lanky goddesses modeling the clothes we're supposed to covet?

That's what Baltimore-native Melissa London (pictured, left) wondered before she finally did something about it and created itsybits.com, a stylish new Web site aimed at the, ahem, vertically challenged woman.

"I started the site," says London, all 5 feet 2 inches of her, "because all my life I've had to work twice as hard to find clothes that worked for me and then pay double to get them altered."

London falls into a category that gets her little sympathy: She's too small. That, coupled with what she calls a "borderline obsessive focus on fashion," led the then 25-year-old New York City lawyer to take a leave of absence in 1999 and put together the components for what she hopes will become the petite woman's fashion compass.

Itsybits.com partners with other companies -- such as J. Crew -- to showcase a selection of clothes, accessories and advice meant for women under 5 feet 5 inches. You won't run into the frumpy-wear of many petite shops, too-trendy excessiveness of the juniors section or the outrageous expense of custom tailoring here. Instead, you'll find the latest in styles that actually flatter the nontall.

The 4-month-old site already has a spinoff slated to debut at the end of this month. "Avenue P," which you'll be able to link to from itsybits, will be the Internet's one-stop shopping mall for petite-specialized stores.

Affordable aromatherapy

You don't have to break the bank to reap the benefits of an aromatic bubble bath or body gel, especially when "Essence of Beauty" is out there and available for $3 to $7.50. At that price, most of us can afford to splurge on aromatherapy treatments like Orchard Pear Soap, Kiwi Body Mist or Strawberry Bath Jam. The collection's soothing scents are available at CVS.

-- T. B.

Bags to riches

Judith Leiber bags might take inspiration from artists like Matisse, but they're also works of art themselves -- the Smithsonian even displays the bags in its permanent design exhibit.

The fall Leiber collection of minaudieres (mini- handbags) continues the tradition of outrageous luxury with beading and bold shapes, such as the seal-shaped "Galapagos" ($3,700), adorned in silver and gold crystals. The black and white twin "Scottie Dogs" ($3,750 each) add a whimsical touch to daytime ensembles, and the chaotic colors of the "Pop Art" (pictured, $3,600) work together to deliver a striking burst of intensity -- perfect as an eye-catching accessory to the little black dress.

Leiber bags are available at Neiman Marcus (www.neimanmarcus.com) and Saks Fifth Avenue. -- T. B.

Face the rainbow

Want makeup? You know where to find it: at department and drug stores, online or at such boutiques as MAC and Sephora. But if you want color, go to Color World.

The new makeup store at White Marsh Mall sells 1,000 colors of cosmetics. We're talking 1,000 shades of lipstick and nail polish, 250 shades of eye shadow and 21 shades of blush -- from hot pink to neutral beige. Professional make-up consultants are on duty to help coordinate colors, do makeovers by appointment and demonstrate the brushes, applicators and accessories the store also sells.

Color World is open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 410-931-8808.

-- Maria Blackburn

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