Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Strange times we are living in, and on top of it I am pregnant with our first baby. A big plus to being pregnant during a pandemic has been not needing to buy any maternity clothes! Leggings and large T-shirts have worked out just fine so far staying at home. But that ends when my brother-in-law and his fiancee plan to hold a very small wedding ceremony, when I will be 40 weeks pregnant and due any day. If I make it to that event, I obviously cannot show up in leggings and a T-shirt. I am trying to find something that will: A) fit, B) not cost a lot, and C) possibly be usable in another capacity. (I hate buying things for just one wear.) Any suggestions?
- Emily T.
Dear Emily: You've been blessed: You're healthy and you're about to know the great joy of motherhood! Much lower down on the luck scale, but lucky nonetheless, is that you're looking for a dress to accommodate your baby belly just as the fashion gods are dictating that the caftan is high style. And a caftan is just what you need to fulfill the requirements you list: A, B and C! A caftan is a loose-fitting dress - one basically that has very little fit at all. You might know it as a muumuu: A loose hot-weather dress, versatile for beach/pool cover-up and, in your case, maternity fashion that works postpartum as well. Caftans, in solid colors, ethnic prints or pretty much any fabric are most often sold floor length, but it's a simple and relatively inexpensive alteration to any length, from mini to knee or mid-calf.
My Facebook feed has been inundating me with well-priced caftans of all sorts. But beware! Many of those ads look suspiciously like overseas scammers - many in China - which might never send your garment or disappoint you with flimsy fabric that looks nothing like the glorious dresses on the models. (There are many online sites that identify scammer and poor-quality online clothing shops.) For more reliable options, take a look at uniqlo.com (especially the $49.90 Marimekko), modcloth.com, etsy.com, softsurroundings.com (in the $100 range), hm.com, eshakti.com (which lets you personalize styles), amazon.com and even walmart.com.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have been trying to grow my hair, and it is getting longer, except for one pesky area that seems to keep breaking off. I believe it is the remnants of chemical-induced damage. Making this one section of hair look smooth and healthy is impossible, and it is aging my 48-year-old self. Because of the pandemic, I haven't colored in a few months, so I have some healthy outgrowth. My question: Should I cut off the damage and sacrifice the length, or let it grow and cut the damage off when it's longer? Side note: I love short hair on women and have worn pixies before, so I know I can pull off short hair. I just want to look my best.
- Edie R.
Dear Edie: Sounds like an easy choice. Once it is safe to visit your salon, go for a short haircut that eliminates that rogue, damaged hunk. But don't cut it yourself unless you're willing to risk disaster.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My wife and I each have our own walk-in closet. The issue is I'm semi-retired and very rarely have occasion to wear a suit, button-down shirt or polo. Now it's T-shirts almost exclusively. Trouble is, I must have a 100 T-shirts stuffed into cubby-type closet shelves. I have T-shirts from my college, touristy places I've visited, shirts from nonprofits for which I volunteer, etc. My wife says I need to weed everything out I don't wear and donate to Goodwill. But there's nothing I want to weed out. Not to sound selfish, but I want it all. Under the current system, it requires a lot of digging to find any particular T-shirt. I thought about putting the button-up shirts on the shelves and hanging the T-shirts, but truth be told, I'm organizationally challenged. Can you help?
- Jay J.
Dear Jay: I'm on your wife's side about purging. But it's your closet so your call. Clearly you're not ready to toss all the clothes, a la Marie Kondo, that don't bring you joy - or that you don't wear. So, moving on ... there are many ways to organize your 100 or so T-shirts. And there are many devices to buy to help you do so (amazon.com).
My strong suspicion is that your commitment to any of these roll or fold devices won't last and you'll be cramming the T-shirts back in the cubbies, barely or completely unfolded. It's human nature. So, my advice is to take out all your T-shirts and make sure you absolutely want to keep each one. Then follow your own advice: Take any of the hanging dress and polo shirts you never wear, fold them nicely, place in plastic boxes and stack them on the closet floor and/or in the cubbies currently housing the T-shirts. Mash all the other hanging clothes (suits?) tightly together (in zip-up clothing bags if you wish) at one end of the closet and put your precious T-shirts on hangers, easily accessible.
Another option for some of those T-shirts you truly treasure: Have them made into a keepsake quilt. There are plenty of crafters on etsy.com who will do that for you.
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