Are you too cool for etiquette rules?

Etiquette

Etiquette (Illustration for the Tribune by Elaine Melko / March 22, 2012)

Dear Answer Angel: I'm having a heated debate with a friend: Is it rude to keep your sunglasses on indoors? I say unless you have an eye condition that requires them, yes it is — especially in restaurants, at a friend's house, work, etc. She says who cares, and besides, if Vogue editor Anna Wintour can wear hers all the time, why can't we? I say why would you want to?

— In the Dark

Dear In the Dark: I'm totally on your side. I've never been able to figure out why anyone would want to wear sunglasses inside. Besides, I think it's haughty and rude to wear sunglasses when there's no sun. The only exception would be if someone has a condition that makes them supersensitive to light, in which case they should explain upfront that's why they're wearing them.

Call me old-fashioned. I still believe in eye contact with the people I'm talking to, which is impossible when you're staring at your own reflection in somebody's sunglasses.

Highway patrol officers (and fashion editors) might find it useful to use sunglasses as an intimidation technique — "I can stare daggers at you but you can't see me" — but I say take off the shades indoors.

Dear Answer Angel: I'm contemplating getting eyeliner and eyebrow tattoos. Are they safe and do people like them?

— Miss Eyeball

Dear Miss Eyeball: Have you looked at the photos on the Internet? Even the "good" jobs look pretty horrible to me. That said, my friend Ann Marie got her eye tats a decade ago and still loves them. So, what's a smart person to do?

"A smart person needs to know not to do it," says Elizabeth Tanzi, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. "In theory it sounds like a great idea. Put your eyeliner on and never have to do it again," she says. "But in actuality, it can be a disaster."

Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist and laser specialist whose Washington practice includes tattoo removal of all kinds — eyeliner and eyebrow tattoos. Often people want it gone because the colors fade and change with time. Black eyeliner turns an unappealing gray-blue, she says, and eyebrows "are even trickier. If it's brown it ends up pink over time."

Still tempted? Because of proximity to the eye and the color used in eyebrow tattoos there's a reason this stuff is called "permanent makeup." "It's nearly impossible to remove," Tanzi says. "When it goes wrong it goes terribly, terribly wrong and you can't really fix it."

For those with sparse eyebrows, she recommends Latisse, a prescription product that helps grow hair there and also can lengthen eyelashes.

Dear Answer Angel: My eye makeup, especially my eyeliner, has suddenly turned on me. My eyes water and sting after I put it on but it didn't bother me in the beginning. Am I getting worse or is my makeup?

— JLF .L.F.

Dear JLF: It sounds like an allergy. Stop using the suspected eyeliner and see if your problem goes away. Makeup allergies can pop up at any time, even if you've been using the same product for years. If the watering eyes continue, eliminate one makeup item at a time (foundation, powder, shadow, blush, mascara) to find the culprit. If the problem persists, you'll need to see a doctor.

Dear Answer Angel: I have a friend in her late 50s who refuses to admit she's getting older and consequently wears very high heels, very short skirts and low-cut tops. It really doesn't work but I don't know how (or even if it's my business) to tell her that. Part of me says just let her wear whatever she likes and makes her feel good. The other part says she needs to know people are chuckling, even though she seems to be having no problems at work. Any thoughts on how to handle it? Or if I should?

— Dottie in a Dilemma

Dear Dottie: I'm holding up a big red stop sign. If your friend's style is causing a few behind-her-back snickers and nothing more, I'd suggest you mind your own business. Yes, she looks silly. Yes, dressing like a teenager is not flattering. But unless the look is hindering her at work or embarrassing her kids, I'd say leave it alone. If the outfits she's wearing are too revealing for the workplace, it's up to her supervisor, not her friends, to call her on it.

Here's an option. Have a neutral third party help nudge your pal in the right direction. Suggest that you and your friend go shopping. Make an appointment for both of you with a personal shopper at a department store. These pros (who usually don't charge for their services) are used to handling exactly this kind of issue without any friendships to get in the way.

Dear Answer Angel: I have a beautiful Toscana lamb shearling coat. While the shearling is gorgeous, the style of the coat doesn't suit me. It is too big, boxy and too long. I would love to have my coat remade into something more flattering. There is a lot of material to work with and I am sure it could be transformed into something spectacular. Do you have any suggestions for a place that does this kind of work?

— Suzanne T.

Dear Suzanne: Any reputable furrier can do this work or recommend tailors who specialize in fur. Also, an online search for your town and "fur restyling" should turn up some options. The transformations can be amazing and give new life to a coat that's been hanging in the closet for years. And, yes, if you've gained weight (who hasn't?) in many cases the coat can be let out to give you more years of wear.

Shop, drop, get help: Send your questions — on style, shopping, beauty and makeup — to answerangel@tribune.com.

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