You've got fall fashions on your mind, and I'm here to help. Plus a new Answer Angel feature: A special rant section for you to sound off about what's bothering you in the world of shopping, beauty and style.
Dear Answer Angel: I see lots of nifty shawls and wraps being advertised for fall, and I love the look and want to wear one. But I always carry a shoulder bag and can't figure out a way for the two to coexist. If I carry the bag over the shawl, it breaks up the whole look. If I carry it under, I look unflatteringly lumpy. What's a gal to do? (And don't say go for the clutch bag!)
Dear Strapped: A shoulder bag and a shawl/wrap can coexist if and only if the purse hangs below the shawl. So, you can either fold and tie the wrap so it doesn't cover the purse or forget this trend. And the shoulder strap should be worn under the shawl, not on top. As for capes and shoulder bags (even though you didn't ask), you can't wear both, at least at the same time. The bulge under the cape is a terrible look. P.S. I would never suggest a clutch, the most impractical purse in the universe!
Dear Answer Angel: Can you tell me where I can find tall boots for women with large calves?
— Carol A.
Dear Carol: Even lots of skinny women have big, muscular calves, so I don't get why it's so hard to find boots that fit. But it is. Many boot brands offer wide-calf models online only, which isn't that satisfying because we all know how hard it is to tell about fit without trying them on. To avoid those infuriating return delivery fees, buy only from online sites that offer free returns or have a genuine store near you where you can take something back if it doesn't fit.
Fitzwell, Silhouette and Naturalizer are among the brands known for wide-calf options. Also, look for boots with elastic inserts like Naturalizer's Juletta wide-shaft model (naturalizer.com). A reader recommends the Brit-based duoboots.com, which offers free worldwide shipping and up to 21 calf sizes up to 19.6 inches.
Dear Answer Angel: When is it appropriate to wear leather knee boots? Summer with shorts? Almost summer with a miniskirt? I had a meeting with some school district administrators, and one was wearing black knee-high boots with a miniskirt, and I thought she looked like a hooker. I always thought boots were for winter (or at least fall).
Dear Margaret: I agree with you that boots should be worn only in cooler (or cold) weather — namely, when your calves and feet won't be begging for an ice-cold shower after you take them off. That said, I've seen loads of women (and girls) wearing knee-high boots in the heat of summer with hot pants, shorts and minis. This is a silly, impractical trend. And besides, who wants to look like a hooker?
Dear Answer Angel: A woman in her early 20s came to me to help her solve the problem of excessive underarm perspiration. I gave her some dress shields, and she uses an antiperspirant, but do you have any other suggestions?
— Trying to Help
Dear Trying: Botox! The injections that help reduce frown lines can also be used in the underarm area to limit perspiration. This stuff is expensive, and I'd recommend that your friend ask a dermatologist's opinion on whether it's worth it.
Now for some reader rants
Dear Answer Angel: I walk into a store, (and) the skirts are way too short or very long. What happened to skirts that fall a little below the knee? There are a lot of women who I know must be looking for decent-length skirts.
— Sonia G.
Dear Sonia: Agreed! The most flattering length for a skirt is at or a max of an inch below the knee, and I don't care what height you are, they seem almost impossible to find.
Dear Answer Angel: What happened to robes and nightgowns? They have disappeared completely, apparently along with buggy whips. What older person wants to wear pajamas? I have tried ... but unless you are under 40 there is NOTHING, nothing! I have also tried the Internet, and the two robes that were mailed to me were awful — it cost me $13 to return them.
— Patricia M.
Dear Patricia: You're right, they're hard to find, and a decent-quality robe is a rarity. But here are a couple of suggestions. When I hear someone say, "Whatever happened to ... " I've discovered you often can still find it at the Vermont Country Store (vermontcountrystore.com), which specializes in "good old days" items. They've got a huge selection of nightgowns and robes. Also, two popular nightgown brands are Lanz of Salzburg and Karen Neuberger, and you can find both online.
Dear Answer Angel: Am I the only one that finds this long hair ... down to the (chest) unattractive … especially in the over-40 group? Seems like every woman I see on TV lately has hopped on the "hair thing" wagon. I actually have to change a channel when I see some of them.
— Jan M.
Dear Jan: You are not the only one!
Dear Answer Angel: Let's talk about finding shoes that are pretty and you can walk in. I have been looking in vain for a pair of comfortable pumps that are appropriate for a woman in her 50s. I did find a pair of Michael Kors, but the selection is slim after that. Who designs these platform shoes with the 5-inch heels? Do the women who wear them realize how ridiculous they look? Back in the day, there was a name for certain types of women who wore shoes that high, and now the designers assume we all work in that old profession!
Dear C.Q.: Again with the hooker look? (See Margaret's letter above.) If you find some good-looking heels you can walk in, I want to know about it. I've abandoned hope. Anybody out there got suggestions? Hello, shoe manufacturers: Are you listening? Your customers await.