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Answer Angel: Never announce your imperfections! Fashion advice for the self-loathing friend

By Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: A good friend of mine, when we see each other for the first time in awhile, opens the conversation with self-criticism about her looks. "Sorry my hair is a mess." "I was running late so didn't even have time to put on lipstick." "I've put on weight since I saw you last." "I wanted to change my clothes but..." You get the idea. First of all, I would never have paid any attention to any of this if she hadn't brought it up. But how do I tell her to stop running her appearance down?

- Kathi G.

Dear Kathi: Here's some advice we should all take to heart: Never announce your imperfections! Many of us already have friends and family who don't think twice about doing it for us. I will never forget my relative who, at a wonderful family wedding, told me in front of a half-dozen wedding guests, that my shoes were too big. Should I have told her that her mouth was too big? Anyhow, you ask how to prevent her from this self-criticism? How about a heartfelt statement like, "I love you exactly as you are. What you wear, how you look, has nothing to do with what a wonderful friend you are and will always be." It probably won't erase your friend's insecurity but it might reduce it a little and nudge her in the right direction. (If you think it's appropriate, tell her about the technique of wearing a rubber band on her wrist and snapping it every time she has a self-negative thought. It works!)

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Every August I love to go to the newsstand and browse the September issues of the fashion magazines. It's interesting to see what's trending for fall but this year seemed to me that the styles were especially huge. Giant oversized puffer coats and droopy unisex overcoats with sleeves that almost covered the models' knuckles. Power suits in eye-blasting colors (bright red, for example) and silly shoulder pads. Are we supposed to take this stuff seriously?

- Monica L.

Dear Monica: Not really. There is a tiny sliver of the female population that will be seen wearing the trends that the magazines are showing. The clothes for sale, however, will be vastly toned-down, cut-down-to-size versions of the exaggerated silhouettes in the fashion layouts. Yes, you'll be seeing more unisex dressing. Yes, women's power suiting is back. But nothing like what is shown on the runway. Women today have the sense not to slavishly follow trends that don't flatter, cost too much or will be outdated by this time next year.


Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have very thin, pale, wrinkled skin. I am using tinted moisturizer but it doesn't seem like enough coverage. Do you know of a natural-looking product that might work?

- Mary P.

Dear Mary: As you've discovered, tinted moisturizer isn't for everyone. It is, by design, a light coverage product also marketed as BB or CC cream. Cosmetics companies have caught on in a big way that all customers don't have the same color skin and dozens of companies are competing to see which can offer the widest number of colors for a perfect match. In a way, now there are too many options. Websites, beauty blogs and YouTube are there to help guide you to the best choice for your skin tone and type. Here's just one example, from And more guidance from Staffers in department store cosmetics departments are trained to help you but only with the product lines they're trying to get you to buy. Drugstores generally have neither testers to try out products nor trained help to guide you. Some Sephora stores have makeup classes and consultation appointments, some at no charge, others for a fee. For instance, the website says the Sephora on Chicago's Michigan Avenue is offering free appointments for a 15-minute session titled "Find Your Foundation," which sounds tailor-made for you.



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