I couldn’t stay away. I hung up my halo last fall and said farewell, thinking I’d tackled just about every question you could come up with.
Whoa, was I wrong!
While I was binge-watching “Say Yes to the Dress” for the past few months, your emails kept coming: fresh problems to solve and questions that demanded warnings to not waste your money (high-priced wrinkle creams!). And then there were your heartfelt goodbyes. Can angels blush?
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My husband wears cargo pants, a light blue, long-sleeved, button-cuffed dress shirt and a V-neck sweater every day. EVERY DAY. Sometimes he varies his outfit by tying the sweater around his neck, and, in summer, dumps the sweater, but rolls up the sleeves of the shirt in the same way every day. EVERY DAY.
Would you suggest poison, a blow to the temple from behind with a ball-peen hammer as he dips his madeleine in his tea whilst reading the Answer Angel, or a garrote? And, given the circumstances, would any jury convict? – Christi J.
Dear Christi: You’re not going to like this answer but I’m on your husband’s side. And, count your blessings. He looks decent and tidy. Many of us have simply abandoned all hope of having our spouses look even moderately OK. T-shirts that show off a bowling ball stomach, prominent rib sauce stains, black socks with Tevas come to mind. If his biggest flaw is his woeful lack of wardrobe imagination, you’re lucky with a capital L.
Furthermore, nobody but you (and the friends you complain to) even notice. Just as a test, I once wore the same pair of trousers to the office 11 days in a row and not a single person paid attention. One more thing, plenty of successful men have adopted a uniform of sorts: Facebook baron Mark Zuckerberg, the late Apple mogul Steve Jobs and even, to a large extent, Barack Obama. I’d say your guy is in good company.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am about to graduate from grad school and have an interview coming up (yay!). I haven’t had any luck yet finding a suit and am not sure whether it should be pants or a skirt. I’m running out of time and won’t be able to get them altered before the interview. Obviously, with all my student loans, it needs to be affordable. Help! – Sarah
Dear Sarah: A suit isn’t really necessary for a job interview in most professions these days, but it’s a safe choice and a good idea if you’re looking for a position where dressing conservatively is still expected: law, finance, accounting, etc. Otherwise a simple dress or nice slacks and a blouse (perhaps with a jacket) or a pencil skirt and a shell under a jacket are fine alternatives.
But, you asked about a suit and pants vs. skirt. For bottoms, choose whichever makes you more comfortable. If you don’t have time for alterations the skirt is a better bet since most pants seem to be designed for taller-than-average women. (Hemming them with duct tape, by the way, works in a pinch.) The best budget basic suit options I’ve found are at The Limited (thelimited.com), where consistent fabric and colors season after season encourage mixing and matching at reasonable prices.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I read about something called “co-washing” where you stop using shampoo and instead “wash” your hair with conditioner. I’ve got extremely dry hair and the story said this preserves moisture. I’m terrified of abandoning shampoo. It sounds kind of gross. Should I try it? – Jenny J.
Dear Jenny: Yes, definitely. I’ve never heard the term co-washing (sounds like washing your hair with a friend) but I ditched shampoo a decade ago when I figured out that the detergents were making my super dry curly hair even more like Brillo. Here’s what I do: Massage conditioner vigorously into the scalp, rinse, do it again, rinse. I’ve been happy with both DevaCurl One Condition and DevaCurl No-Poo as shampoo substitutes (devacurl.com). If you do try this method, I suggest you tell only close friends. When I tell people I haven’t shampooed in 10 years, they start backing away from me!
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I recently started a walking/running exercise program (which I hate but I need to do it). But I’m getting blisters from rubbing between my toes. I’ve tried Band-Aids and a foam-type covering but they don’t work. This is giving me a good excuse not to work out but that’s the last thing I need. Any solution besides sitting on the couch? – Ouch
Dear Ouch: It is rare indeed to find an ideal solution but I think I’ve got one. Try toe socks (sort of gloves for the feet). They look silly, are a pain to put on and they’re not cheap, but they work. Get them online or at running/sports stores. I’ve had good luck with the Injinji brand.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What is with this goatee business? It’s as if these men ask themselves, “What makes me look better, lose 50 pounds or grow a goatee?” I’m a 60-plus-year-old man but I want to tell these guys that a little facial hair is not hiding their multiple chins. – Jerry J.
Dear Jerry: Amen, brother. Now you’ve told them!
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