This Wearin' of the Green thing just gets more complicated all the time. You've got questions and — since St. Patrick is not around to answer them — allow me.
Dear Answer Angel: My husband and I are invited to a St. Patrick's Day party and he wants to go all out — dye our hair green, maybe paint our skin with green stripes — whatever. But I'm more cautious. Would green hair dye actually wash out or would I have a green haze on my hair for months? Is face paint really temporary?
— Inquiring Irish
Dear Irish: Things sure have changed since the day I showed up in seventh grade with green lips as my tribute to St. Pat. I had applied grocery store food coloring straight from the bottle and Sister Antonine was not amused. She sent me straight to scrub the stuff off in the lavatory ("bathroom" was not a word that nuns uttered back then). Not so easy. Industrial sandpaper couldn't have gotten rid of all the green. Nowadays, face paint from craft stores like Michaels, michaels.com, comes off with soap and water. And you shampoo out the green spray-on hair coloring you can buy at party storesclaires.com or beauty supply shops such as Sally Beauty Supply, sallybeauty.com. Or, opt for a $7.99 green bob wig like I saw recently at Target, target.com, and you'll (sham)rock a great look.
Dear A.A: I'm weary of reading about St. Patrick's Day and parades and the wearing of the green, etc. But it occurred to me that I couldn't wear anything that color to work on March 17 even if I wanted to. Nor could my husband. Neither of us has a single green shirt or green sweater or (heaven forbid, dear Angel!) pair of green pants. Green seems to have disappeared from clothing stores. Is this true? I've always thought almost no one looks good in green anyway, so maybe that's why it's gone.
— Better in Blue
Dear B in B: Look again. There's green everything in stores right now. But there's no reason to invest in something you won't wear again since you hate the way you look in the color. Why not bring a bowl of green candy to the office and spread the St. Patrick's Day cheer that way? Bet your co-workers won't turn down your offering of green foil-wrapped Hershey's creme de menthe kisses or other treats.
Dear Answer Angel: What can I be expected to wear to a beach wedding in Mexico where the attire is listed as "formal"?
Dear Megs: A flowy, midcalf dress of a weight suitable for the weather would be a great choice. Stay clear of prints that are too vacation-in-Vegas garish. And definitely no flip-flops. Stilettos will sink into the sand, so strappy flat sandals are your best choice. Palazzo pants with a matching or contrasting top (add lots of long necklaces) also would work. And think about a pashmina or pretty cardigan in case there's a breeze. Still not sure? Remember this rule: It's never rude or inappropriate to ask the bridal couple what "formal" means on a beach in Mexico. You might learn they mean anything dressier than a T-shirt, shorts or swimwear.
Dear Answer Angel: The invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton next month says dress should be "Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit." What's a lounge suit?
— Not a Brit
Dear Not: A lounge suit is what you and I would call a normal (dark) business suit. Just like you might wear to a normal wedding in a normal church. You didn't ask, but a morning coat is something that most men, even those who fancy themselves gentlemen, do not have hanging in their closet. It's a pointy-lapel, single button coat with tails.
While we're on the subject of the royal wedding …
Dear Answer Angel: I was struck in all the coverage of the engagement and ring that Kate's hands were absolutely plain, no nail polish, no shaped nails. The Daily Beast noted, as well, "Her fingernails were neatly trimmed but unpolished." While there is already a bonanza brewing for the dressmaker, ring-maker, etc., and many other fashion spinoffs, I wondered if this signaled something different for the 20-something girls about nails. If a princess-to-be wearing a gigantic sapphire engagement ring didn't get a manicure or wear nail polish, who would?
— Mary E.
Dear Mary: You can be confident that even though she wasn't wearing polish, Kate had a manicure before she showed off that walnut-size sapphire sparkler. When William's mother, the late Princess Diana, showed off that same engagement ring almost 30 years earlier, she too had neatly trimmed, unpolished nails. So, consider it a family tradition. As long as there is a nail polish industry, women of all ages will be coloring their nails. So, don't consider this a trend. Kate — and Diana before her — just didn't want their painted nails to distract from the glitter of that ring when the engagement pictures were broadcast around the globe.