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Your Spirit guide: Halloween specialty stores opening across the country

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - At Spirit Halloween, the early bird gets the sandworm.

At least that's what one customer was looking for at the newly opened seasonal store's Boynton Beach, Fla., location inside a former Toys "R" Us. He proudly clutched a candle holder featuring the black-and-white-striped serpent from the 1988 Tim Burton ...Read more

Missing thrift stores, but worried about COVID-19

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am, or was, an avid thrifter. I haven't been in Goodwill or a church thrift shop since March. I'm getting very itchy to resume my bargain quest, but I'm still reluctant, considering how shoppers go through everything on a rack, handle things, try on items, etc. Am I being overly cautious?

- Pamela J.

Dear Pamela: ...Read more

When COVID-19 ruins the wedding, couples can pay the price

PHILADELPHIA - Weddings are supposed to be about love and togetherness. But when too much togetherness could violate the law, couples must decide whether to hold on to their dreams or go a different way.

The wedding website The Knot estimates that there will be 1 million weddings in the United States this year - pandemic or not. From the ...Read more

Elizabeth Wellington: How to put on your own virtual wine tasting

I miss having drinks with the girls.

Sure, I've been to my share of virtual happy hours, but six months into the pandemic they are pretty boring. Part of the fun of sitting at the bar with the girls is dishing over heavy pours. In the age of the coronavirus, we've got nothing to dish about.

Maybe I should use this time with friends - and ...Read more

Colorado crafter's creative candles have ignited a strong following

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The old house smelled like stir fry and someone's dog and the cigarettes friends smoked outside.

The downtown Colorado Springs Victorian was already musky and then each of Brett Owens' five roommates brought their own unique scent to the place. A lot of them worked at Dutch Bros. Coffee, as Owens did, bringing home a...Read more

Elizabeth Wellington: Our indulgences have become more about self-care than spending

The evening before I sat to write this essay on indulgence, I indulged.

My sister and I shared a bottle - OK, maybe two - of bourbon-infused red wine. She served the full-bodied red blend, brimming with vanilla, caramel and blackberry notes, with blue cheese and fig jam on sesame and sea salt crackers. We laughed into the night, listening to ...Read more

Kamala Harris' 'Timbs' and other practical campaign footwear wins Twitter attention

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Political observers can discuss the many ways Oakland native U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is breaking ground as the running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, but an unexpected discussion centers on her practical choice of footwear during campaign stops.

Harris is ditching the heels usually donned by women ...Read more

Function over fashion with face masks at the office

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: As my office "fashion plate" (it doesn't take much), I had the dilemma this morning of deciding how to accessorize my face mask. Does it need to match my tie? My suit? Does it really matter? I went with the (blue) tie.

- David G.

Dear David: No, the color/pattern of your face mask doesn't really matter. It ...Read more

'Glamping' just might be the perfect pandemic panacea

PITTSBURGH - The perfect pandemic panacea just might be glamorous camping, better known as glamping.

That's what Anna Baird thought when she created Hideaway Co, a mobile hospitality concept that allows guests to enjoy Mother Nature's cathartic embrace without the hassle. Glamping is popular in the West, but you don't see many high-end campers ...Read more

Entrepreneur's unlikely path was driven by goal to make the world's most comfy dress shirt

PITTSBURGH - Matteo Ferrer's background in environmental sustainability and work for the city of Pittsburgh led him down an unexpected career path to becoming COO of his own clothing company.

Those twists and turns have more in common, though, than meets the eye.

"In that journey, I began wearing more dress shirts in and out of work,"...Read more

How to balance comfort and style in work shoes

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My husband and I are in the health care field and on our feet all day long. I've got shoes that work for me, but those comfort shoes are UGLY. In a pandemic I understand that this is not the most important question, but I feel like looking good top to bottom is a kindness to our patients and respect for ourselves. Any ...Read more

The dos and don'ts of wearing a mask while dining out

Restaurants in cities and towns across the nation are reopening their dining rooms, and many people are venturing back in.

Even with tables spaced 6 feet apart, you need to take precautions to limit your exposure to the coronavirus. One of those is wearing your face mask. But how do you do that and still eat?

BEFORE YOU GO

The first thing you...Read more

Dried and gone to heaven: Florists embrace arid new design trend

BALTIMORE - You know the old story. Shell out a bunch of money for a big, gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Take it home and the clock starts ticking. You have a few days. Maybe longer, if you can slice the stems right and remember to stir in the mysterious packet of plant food.

Fortunately for the cost-conscious consumer, low-maintenance, longer ...Read more

Columbus teen builds sneaker restoration business amid pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Antonio Davis, like so many teens, spent the early weeks of the pandemic unsure of what to do with himself. Then he switched off the television and started a business.

Laurise Johnson did the math. As an education specialist at an East Side after-school program, she's all about the math.

Binge-watching 16 seasons of "Grey...Read more

Amazon launches 'Luxury Stores' with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer

Wondering what Amazon might be tackling next? The online retailer on Tuesday (Sept. 15) announced the launch of its "Luxury Stores" with Oscar de la Renta as its first designer brand.

Luxury Stores is launching with some exclusivity, which has always been a characteristic of upscale branding. Eligible Prime members in the U.S. are the...Read more

10 basics to keep as you try to unclog your closet

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I find myself spending more and more time in warm climates to avoid the cold winters. I find that I no longer want to share space in my closet with my heavy-duty cold winter wardrobe. I'd like to pare down to just a list of 10 essentials.

If you were to pare down to a "capsule" a cold-weather wardrobe, what ...Read more

Her creativity stretches from goody baskets to event planning

BALTIMORE - The biography page on Alexis Streets' website describes her as a "celebrity dessert stylist." The description covers only part of what the Savage resident does at her business, Basket Treats by Alexis Streets.

She provides ornate displays of what she calls Bougie Balloons, operates a mobile dessert truck called The Dessert...Read more

Brides say yes to the dress, even as pandemic disrupts wedding plans

PHILADELPHIA - Once Alexandria Maurizzio and her fiance got engaged last November, they wanted to be married within a year. Even if a pandemic got in the way.

So this November, Maurizzio, 28, and Philip Thomas, 25, plan to go forth with their outdoor wedding in Bucks County, where they hope to see at least 150 of the 200 guests they invited.

&...Read more

Today and throughout history, US fashion industry closely tied to labor unions

PITTSBURGH - Labor Day has more to do with fashion than the old-school rule that it's the last time to wear white until next year.

In fact, the industry owes much of its evolution - particularly in the 20th century - to the social, economic and creative accomplishments of labor unions and their members, a legacy that lives on today through ...Read more

Hair-care vending machine with products for Black, brown people opens in Detroit

DETROIT - Hair styling products, lip gloss, lashes and other beauty supplies can all be found in a new vending machine in Detroit.

Called the Lavish Box, the vending machine was created during the pandemic to make hair care and other products mostly used by people of color accessible to those who are Black, brown and anyone in between. The ...Read more