Answer Angel

Makeup, hair, capri pants: Does age matter?

Age-old concerns about makeup, hair styling

 Age-appropriate styling

Age-appropriate styling (Elaine MelkoIllustration for Tr, )

Everyone knows (don't they?) that 60 is the new 40. Or is it 30? Anyhow, three questions that touch on the issue of age …

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I would like to get a makeup update but hesitate for two reasons. First, I know that any cosmetic brand counter I go to is going to push only their products. I don't believe this is necessarily the best for me. Second, I don't think a 20- or 30-year-old is who I want helping me since I'm old enough to be her mom.

— C.V.

Dear C.V.: Here's an option: Sign up for a free group class or book an individual makeup tutorial at Sephora, which has stores around the country including hundreds in J.C. Penney stores. You'll get 45 minutes of free one-on-one advice if you spend $50, and twice the time if you spend $125 (sephora.com). Makeup artists have access to all the many brands sold at Sephora. You're right that at a department store makeup counter, the makeup artists will be using only the brand of products they represent, and their goal is to make you look so great that you'll want to buy the whole shebang. But resist! Ask for samples and go home and think about it.

But what about your concerns that a younger person won't be much help? I asked stylist Nancy Plummer, (finethreadschicago.com) who said, "It's not necessarily the age of the person, it's the skill, experience and technique that the makeup artist uses that makes you feel comfortable and natural in your own skin." At the department store, watch the artists work on others and check out how their own makeup is applied. "Finding a good makeup line and artist that works for you and your skin tone is a lot like trying on and finding the best brand (of) jeans," Plummer says. If you're still confused, Plummer says consider Bobbi Brown, a line that promotes a natural look. (See the how-to videos on bobbibrowncosmetics.com).

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Perhaps I'm jealous that I've never had long hair. … Why, oh why do women of a certain age continue to allow their stringy long hair remain long or tied down in a pony tail? I see so many looking just terrible, and I can envision them in short hair and their faces would shine. Perhaps you could address this (I believe) important issue!

— Barbara D.

Dear Barbara: I agree with you that most women in their 50s and upward would look more polished with a shorter style. But 60-year-old model Christie Brinkley looked great on the cover of People magazine with her long blond hair flowing way past her shoulders. So clearly there are exceptions. However, I'm with you that long lank hair, gray or color treated, is never flattering, and especially not on "women of a certain age."

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Help! I am getting ready for a big family vacation in the Mediterranean. It will be pretty hot there. I would love to not look too much like a little old lady tourist, while staying cool. So if I don't wear capris, what do I wear? I am a plus-size woman, with lots of spider veins, and shorts are way out. I look awful in them, even/especially Bermudas. I'm looking for some advice — what do people wear to stay cool? Hard to imagine wearing skirts when I am climbing walls and wearing sneakers.

— Debbie L.

Dear Debbie: Honestly, I do understand why so many women favor capris. Their legs (and their body shape) look terrible in shorts. But pants that come to midcalf make legs look shorter and fatter, and they're not any cooler than a pant that comes to the ankle. Sure, if you buy capris you don't have to worry about hemming them, but the trade-off is not worth it. Lightweight pants, especially linen, with a pretty untucked woven shirt or a tunic is a great, cool alternative. I've had good luck finding these items at Old Navy (oldnavy.com).

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you know of any resale shops (brick-and-mortar stores) that pay when they accept clothes you leave with them?

— Julie

And another resale question…

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Where is the best consignment store that would take a rabbit fur coat? How about a knockoff awesome "Gucci" briefcase?

— Connie R.

Dear Julie and Connie: Virtually all stores that resell gently used clothes and accessories pay you a percentage of the sale price only after they're sold. In addition, they are often fussy about condition, want only higher-end labels (not knockoffs) and require an appointment to accept seasonal clothing only. Buffalo Exchange (buffaloexchange.com), a national chain, is an exception. They'll accept offerings anytime and pay you immediately: either 35 percent of the amount they price them or 50 percent of the marked price in in-store credit. If the rabbit coat has seen better days, you might want to donate it at any Buffalo Exchange between now and Earth Day (April 22) to be used as bedding for injured and orphaned animals. This applies only to real fur, not faux.

Angelic Readers

Cindy S. responds to the reader who couldn't find an absorbent terry bathrobe: "I found a wonderfully thick, heavy terry cloth robe at Ikea for $20! It has been perfect!"

Dear Cindy: It's the $19.99 Njuta bathrobe (ikea.com). I tested it and found it to be a terrific bargain.

Reader Rant

A trend that needs to end: Black fingernail and toenail polish makes a woman's digits look dirty. When I see black or even brown polish on someone, it reminds me of when a little kid takes a Sharpie or felt marker to their nails as a goof. In my world of fashion rules, the only women allowed to wear black nail polish are Lily Munster, Morticia Addams and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

— Mick K.

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