ANSWER ANGEL

Taking the right step with bare legs

Naked legs are all the rage, but wearing stockings never goes out of style. Answer Angel has tips on how to wear hose -- or not -- this summer.

 

The right way to go bare-legged (Elaine Melko/For the Tribune / June 2, 2010)

If you're lovelorn and looking for answers, you won't find them here. But advice to the leg-lorn? You've come to the right place. It used to be that a well-dressed woman never went to work with her legs bare. Now, is wearing hosiery hopelessly dated? Read on.

Dear Answer Angel: Is it a total fashion faux pas to wear pantyhose these days? I believe that I look better, and I'm just more comfortable. My legs remain pasty-greenish all year. What about knee-high sheers under pants? My feet are just more comfortable with some kind of stocking.

— T.C.

Dear Answer Angel: I know the trend has gone to bare legs. I am tall, however, with very long legs and fair (i.e. very pale) skin. When I wear a skirt/dress, knee length with high heels, but minus hose, it doesn't look right. When I do wear hose, even a nude color, my co-workers often comment on it!

What is the "code" to follow to remain tasteful yet fashion forward?

— Kathy M.

Dear T.C. and Kathy: There is no "code" when it comes to hosiery, no matter what your sneering pals and co-workers want you to believe. There is one rule, however: Choose what makes you feel comfortable.

But — there's always a "but," isn't there? — "the thing you want to avoid is that quintessential pantyhose look," says Christene Barberich, editorial director of the fashion and shopping blog Refinery29 (refinery29.com). She's talking about the cheesy, shiny, tan pantyhose you pick up for a couple of bucks at the drugstore. Instead, go for sheer, pretty stockings in colors that match your skin tone.

Bloomingdale's personal shopper Joyce Sobczyk recommends "The Nudes" ($20, Bloomingdale's, bloomingdales.com) from Donna Karan. If they're a little pricey, wardrobe consultant Brenda Levesque (lifestyleimagechicago.com) suggests Berkshire Ultra Sheer ($6.95) or Hanes Absolutely Ultra Sheer ($7), both available at Macy's (macys.com). And consider experimenting with a little color. Choose sheer hosiery in off-white, black, gray or plum.

Knee-high sheers under pants — skin tone or in colors — are fine if you feel better wearing hosiery with your shoes. Skinny "footies" also are an option.

But take a look at my answer to the following question. Maybe this is the solution you're looking for.

Dear Answer Angel: I'd like to go bare this summer — I detest pantyhose — but my legs are too pasty and veiny. Will a self-tanner cover my flaws?

— No More Pantyhose

Dear No More: I'm a fan. Some people think they're too streaky or fake-looking, but I've had good luck with Jergen's Natural Glow (drugstores, $9.79).

After reading an enthusiastic report about expensive Lancome Flash Bronzer for Legs ($31.50, Nordstrom, nordstrom.com), I tested it and didn't think it was any better than Jergen's. And it costs three times as much.

Learn from my mistakes: Experiment with different products and be scrupulous about not missing a spot (ankles!) when applying.

Dear Answer Angel: Help! I am returning to the work force after 10 years at home with my kids. What are women wearing to work and for interviews now? I bought a short-sleeved dress with an attached jacket for summer interviews, and my neighbor said no way; women don't wear dresses in the office anymore. I have no idea what is appropriate or sophisticated, since many of my peers have home offices or work in casual offices.

I'm looking for a marketing or executive assistant/office manager position. I was a marketing manager 10 years ago, and it was mostly suits, skirts and dressy blouses then. Whichever way I go, I expect to be around executive types, so I'm guessing I can't be too casual.

— Getting Out There

Dear Getting: A dress with a jacket is a fine choice, as long as it's a tailored fabric and silhouette (no loud prints; no flirty, flimsy cotton). In fact, the dress with jacket is a look that's good enough for the president of the United States — as played by Cherry Jones in the Fox series "24."

But if you're wavering, "you can't go wrong with a suit," says Susan Swimmer, fashion features editor of More Magazine. (Just ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who wears nothing but.)

But don't drag out your old dress-for-success suits from a decade ago. Fashion has changed — a lot. Jackets are not so I-want-to-be-a-man-ish. They're shorter now and nip in at the waist. And the skirt should hit at or just below the knee. Mid-calf skirts are frumpy and dated, and thigh grazers are no good in a work setting if you want to be taken seriously. As for pants, they're a little more tapered than they were a decade ago. A notable necklace or earrings (but not both) also will give you an all-pro look, but forget lots of rings and jangly bracelets, says Swimmer. They distract from what you're saying if you talk with your hands — which you will. Finally, no bare legs, no sandals, no flats (not dressy enough) and no stilettos (stick with a 3-inch heel, max). Traditional pumps, peep-toes and sling-backs all work.

Dear Angel: I don't own a car so I don't have my own auto insurance policy. Do I need to buy the additional insurance the rental car company is offering when I rent a car on my vacation this summer? I've shopped for the best rental car price but didn't figure in the cost of insurance.

— Driving Me Nuts

Dear Driving: The base car rental price includes some insurance, namely the minimum liability coverage required by the state you're renting in, says David Snyder, an expert with the American Insurance Association. Unless you buy additional coverage when you rent, the entire cost of damage or theft of the car is usually on you, says Snyder. The car rental place also sells increased liability coverage — more than the minimum included in the rental contract. So, should you buy more insurance? "It depends on how much risk you're willing to assume," says Snyder.

One more thing: If you have auto insurance on your car, Snyder says it probably gives the same coverage on your rental as if you were driving your own car (with the same deductible). But check your policy.

shopellen@tribune.com

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