May 6, 2010
Dear Angel: Do you have any thoughts about the proper skirt length for an office these days? A lovely young woman, recently out of college, has begun working in our office, and she wears her skirts very short. I don't know how she can sit down. That said, she's very bright, personable and has a great figure and looks good in the skirts, once you get past the fact there's nothing to them. But I fear the shortness may be affecting her in negative ways. I've overheard guys, including her bosses, joking about it, and frankly I don't want her held back because of the way she dresses. But I feel that I would be interfering to say anything to her (or look like a jealous busybody — help! I'm only 42!) Any ideas about how to handle this?
Dear Perplexed: You know the old saying, "Hemlines might go up and down, but good taste is always knee-length?" I just made that up. It sounds like your colleague would be receptive to a kindly Big Sister talk. Tell her just what you told me: She looks great, but she might be getting the wrong kind of attention from the men she wants to impress in a different way — with her talent and skill. If you think she'd perceive your advice as meddling, follow the wisdom of the late Ann Landers: MYOB (Mind Your Own Business). That's always a good backup plan.
Dear Answer Angel: Is it true that moths attack only garments that are 100 percent wool? Does a jacket that's 96 percent wool and 4 percent elastane need to spend the moth season in a cedar closet or mothballs? Is there a tipping point, i.e., a percentage of wool above which the moths are interested? Thanks for your help.
— Wool Wearer
Dear WW: No, it's not true. Moths love wool no matter what it's blended with! And it's not just wool. They also go for anything containing animal fiber, such as fur, silk, feathers, felt and leather. Even if there's just a little of any of that in the blend, your clothes are on the moth menu. Michael Potter, an entomology professor at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, tells me the best way to protect your stuff is in tightly sealed plastic containers ( Wal-Mart, Target have loads) and zippered clothing bags. He says cedar chips and cedar closets aren't much good. Meanwhile, there's a growing concern about the health risks of mothballs and flakes, Potter says. Besides, they stink. So, you might want to skip those too. Before storing vulnerable items, dry clean or run through the dryer at low setting to kill the critters. But, if you've got a significant problem, you need to find the source and eradicate it, or you're in for more munching misery.
Dear Answer Angel: Need your advice! My question is regarding women's jackets. I often wonder how to determine whether a jacket is meant to be an indoor or an outdoor jacket. Take, for example, a belted trench-style jacket, a style I love. I'm also referring to a shorter type of jacket without a belt. Or even a pea-coat type of jacket. I like to wear any of these jackets either outdoors or indoors, such as at the office, or at church, or when visiting at someone's home. Are there "rules" about this?
— Jacket Lover
Dear J.L.: In fashion, there are no rules. Or they're made to be broken. The best guide here is common sense. Face it, you're not going to be wearing a heavy coat indoors. A thick lining that makes the coat bulky also tells you it belongs outside only.
But, I've seen cotton belted trenches from the coat department that are so lightweight that they'd look great as a dress or tunic with pants. Biker jackets are hugely popular this year and are fine indoors and out as long as they're not really heavy leather. If it's rubbery, has a waterproof vibe or is very shiny patent, the jacket probably is meant to be outdoors only.
Still unsure? Try this test: If you can push up the sleeves, chances are you can wear it indoors.
Dear Answer Angel: My husband is tall (more than 61/2 feet) and has very muscular legs; as a result, he can't find jeans! Everything is skintight around his thighs or too big at his waist. He used to be able to special order jeans from Lands' End, but they discontinued that option. He wears jeans every day and is down to just one pair. Where can he find jeans that are stylish but also fit? Growing a beer gut or wearing "mom jeans" are not good options.
— Desperately Seeking Jeans
Dear Desperate: Glad to hear you've ruled out mom jeans for your man! You can buy Levis online (levis.com) up to a 40-inch inseam for waists 34, 36 or 38, but if that won't do, you might try bigmen.com, where the jean inseam max is 42 inches — and an 88-inch waist! ("We fit the toughest of the tough," I was told.) I've been swapping e-mail with India-based makeyourownjeans.com, where you specify your measurements (including those muscular thighs). Cost starts at $49 plus $15 shipping; the options of style and color are dizzying. Women's jeans also are available.
Shop, drop, ask for help: Yearning for a friend (only better) to tell you what to choose, where to look, how to get good value? Relax, now you've got an angel on your shoulder. Send questions large and small to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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