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Answer Angel

A cap and gown tutorial for graduates

Ellen Warren

May 6, 2011

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Don't sweat it. Answer Angel has you covered on how to look great at graduation, fabulous in your jeans and so much more.

Dear Answer Angel: My mom said I should ask you my fashion questions, so here goes. I am about to graduate and receive my master's degree This is my third graduation (high school, college, and now master's) and the cap and gown always looks wretched. What do you suggest about shoes and attire under the cap and gown in order to look good in all the pictures my family will be taking? Here's to hoping the third time's the charm.

— Emily

Dear Emily: This is a personal crusade of mine, to help graduates look as good as humanly possible for those cherished photos in those cheesy outfits they make you wear to get your diploma.

I'm thrilled to offer a checklist:

Iron or steam the gown in the bathroom so it's not a wrinkled mess.

Be sure no clothing (blouse etc.) peeks out at the neckline. Men: A shirt and tie looks best; skip the jacket because the suffocating polyester gown will make you sweat like a longshoreman.

Mortarboards are silly but they look even sillier perched on the back of your head: The point of the cap should be in the middle of and down on your forehead; flat part should be parallel to the floor.

Don't use unsightly bobby pins or clips to hold the cap on; try a discreet hatpin at the back.

If graduation is on grass, wear flats; heel sink in.

Simple is better; both men and women can't go wrong with black slacks and plain, polished shoes.

Always smile.

Dear Answer Angel: I am one of those old dinosaurs who still like to use an electric typewriter.  Laugh if you must but I would rather use this than a computer. The problem is my Remington Rand Electric model #880 has ceased to let me peck away on her. I have searched high and low to find someone who can repair it for me but to no avail. So is there anyone out there in angel land who can help me find a repairman to fix my 1985 purchase so I do not have to put it on the electronic waste heap? Or, I would be willing to purchase a used electric IBM if anyone has one for sale.  I would appreciate any help you can give.

— Cecelia 

Dear Cecelia: Typewriters are enjoying a moment. They're being discovered (and embraced) by young people who haven't a clue how to change a ribbon or wrestle with flimsy fly away carbon paper. To answer your question, I went to Richard Polt, a typewriter fanatic and professor of philosophy at Xavier University in Cincinnati. "There is a whole community of 'typecasters' or people who type their blogs on typewriters (seriously) … So Cecelia is not a dinosaur!" Polt emailed.

For a huge list of typewriter repair shops and much much more, see Polt's typewriter site: site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters or just Google "classic typewriter page."                                       

As it heats up out there, two questions on the human equivalent of a dog's panting …

Dear Answer Angel: You seem to have an answer for all problems.  How about us ladies that perspire and need to wear dress shields with many tops or dresses. They used to be easy to purchase at stores or catalogues.  I haven't been able to find them for ages. Can you help?

— Marla

Dear Marla: My wings are fluttered by your flattery. You bet I can help. Kleinert's, which proclaims itself "The World's Authority on Sweat Protection", offers a daunting selection. Order online at kleinertsshields.com or call 1-800-498-7051.

Dear Answer Angel: Among the perils of hot weather (which are few, as far as I'm concerned!) is sweating. Anyhow, maybe some "don't sweat it" rules of order? How to protect fabric after the fact, etc.

— Renee

Dear Renee: Some sweat stains are just not worth working on. I'm talking about dingy not-white-any-more t-shirts with gross yellow pits. Pitch 'em. But for more valuable garments, if the color of the fabric has changed, the American Cleaning Institute (cleaninginstitute.org) recommends rubbing fresh stains with ammonia (or white vinegar on old stains), then rinse. For new stains that haven't discolored clothes, try pre-wash stain remover or rub with bar soap. Then, in all cases, wash in hottest water safe for the fabric. For stubborn stains, try washing in a product with enzymes or oxygen bleach.

Dear Answer Angel: I have been thinking that someone who could make me custom jeans would solve my jean-fitting problem. My problem is that I am short and petite, but thicker through the waist. I actually buy jeans in the junior and children's department — and I am a grandmother! Local seamstresses don't want to make jeans as the fabric is too thick for their machines. Any suggestions? Thanks so much for any ideas.

— Jeannie

Dear Jeannie: Is there a woman on earth who has found jeans that are a perfect fit? Doubt it! I have two recommendations, neither perfect. Buy the best possible fit you can (probably after shopping for days, weeks, months and trying on hundreds). Then, take them to a local tailor/seamstress (at your dry cleaner perhaps?) and have them altered. More and more can sew thick denim on their machines.

The other alternative is to have them custom made. My friend Pam ordered jeans from India-based makeyourownjeans.com and it took three orders, much measuring to account for shrinkage after washing plus calculations worthy of an engineering major. But, she finally got the fit she wanted. Read the return policy carefully before ordering. An Internet search turns up other online custom jeans sites too.

Dear Answer Angel: Where can I find a gizmo that hangs in my shower (to hold my bath and hair stuff) that won't get rusty? All the ones I've bought are made of some kind of wire covered with white plastic that quickly turns rusty and cruddy.

— Margaret

Dear Margaret: What you're looking for is an acrylic shower caddy. I've seen them at Menard's and found them online at such places as organize-it-online.com, 1-800-210-7712, where the one I found was $21.97.

Shop, drop, get help

You have problems? Who doesn't? But you have an angel (with attitude) on your shoulder. Send your questions — on style, shopping, etiquette, beauty to answerangel@tribune.com.

 
 
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