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Answer Angel: Fixing those maddening jewelry clasps

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you have any advice for an uncoordinated person to deal with those tiny clasps on necklaces and bracelets? My nemesis is the jewelry with the most common clasps. They require the wearer to pull back a small latch to open the ring and to then “thread” a circular piece onto the opened ring. None of my jewelry is expensive, so I’m OK with a solution that compromises a bit of safety for increased independence.

— Emily D.

Dear Emily: Isn’t it just infuriating to be on your way out the door, all dressed except for your jewelry, which requires time, frustration, a mirror, acrobatics or a helping hand to get that clasp to catch on the teensy ring?

There are several options. I’ve tried them, and they’re not great, but better than nothing. Unbend a paper clip to look sort of like an “S,” then attach it to the necklace ring you’re aiming for. This gives you something to hold on to and steady your target so it is easier to aim the clasp at. It isn’t all that easy to do or to explain. Watch the YouTube video titled “Bend Apart a Paper Clip. 5 Seconds Later,” which shows the technique ( (A large safety pin also works if you don’t have a paper clip handy.)

Or, buy a magnetic clasp, which you install without any tools. They’re flimsy, so get one that also screws for added safety. (, Zpsolution Screw Magnetic Clasps for Necklaces, 2 for $9.99).

Jewelry makers can and should do better and change their clasp designs.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Why do so many of my sweaters and knit tops develop pills on them after wear? I do not buy the most expensive items, but the ones I buy are not cheap, either. Are there specific materials I should look for and others to stay away from? I have purchased different types of sweater shavers and tools to remove these pills. Unfortunately, my tops never look as good as when I purchased them. I have also shaved some newer tops and sweaters and put holes in them, and then had to throw them away. Help!

— Victoria M.


Dear Victoria: It’s the fabric. Shorter fibers — like cotton, wool, polyester, nylon and other synthetics — tend to pill. Fabrics that don’t absorb water well also tend to pill. The firmer the feel of the fabric, the less likely it will pill. And yes, synthetic garments tend to be cheaper, which is one reason they pill. But even costly clothing can break your heart with all that pilling. Hand-washing helps. Turning garments inside out before machine washing also somewhat protects the “good side” of the clothes and confines more pilling to the inside of the garment. Laundry detergents with enzymes, like Arm & Hammer BioEnzyme Powder, can remove some of the short fibers that pill. The shavers you mentioned can work, but you found out the hard way that holes are a hazard, especially on delicate fabrics like cashmere.

Angelic Readers

Thanks to the many readers to the rescue for Johanna L., who needs a shower cap that truly keeps her hair dry. Susan B. recommends her Shhhowercap (, $43). Mimi K. raves about her Rain Fall Shower Turban by Lulu (, $14.99): “There are no leaks.” Linda F.’s bargain solution is “a simple plastic bag: Place at nape of neck and tie handles in a knot on your forehead. Looks crazy but says dry.” Susan B. also uses sturdy plastic bags. For her long thick curly hair “that frizzes fast,” Jennifer C. protects her hairline with a “wide, elasticized cloth hairband” then uses two or three processing caps at a time for complete coverage which she can reuse a few times, (, SalonCare Processing Caps, $11.89 for 100). Barbara M. agrees. Leslie L. says “the best shower cap ever” is from Tiara (,, $29).

Marta P. writes: “I attacked this problem from the other end, the shower.” She adjusts the showerhead to hit her at shoulder height “where it doesn’t get your head wet at all.” (From Ellen: This obviously doesn’t work for those of us whose hair frizzes in the shower steam. And don’t buy one of those rainfall showerheads embedded into the ceiling that are now popular in bathroom redos if you have any hope of preventing your hair from a frizzfest.)

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