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Answer Angel: Surprising must-haves for pocket or purse?

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: This subject came up over dinner last night at a pizza restaurant with friends. One of us said she had a friend who always carried a container of crushed red pepper she loves which she found on a trip to Italy. She claimed it was different (and better than) the popular U.S. brands like McCormick, etc. So this made the rest of us wonder what other people always carry in their purse or pocket that you might not expect. If you pose the question to your readers, I bet you’ll get some quirky answers.

— Kylie A.

Dear Kylie: Fun question! OK, readers, tell me what YOU carry with you that you just don’t want to be without. I’ll start: a small measuring tape and a mini scissors to cut open all the packaging that is impossible to open (like soy sauce packets and Nice! brand hard candies I buy at Walgreens). I use one or the other almost every day. Now it’s your turn.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: This is not a fall/winter question, but summer will come again someday. I have really thin legs and a not-so-skinny torso. So, I have big problems with bathing suit fit. If I fit my torso, the leg openings are loose and can expose my you-know-what. Fit my legs, and I can’t breathe. Do you know of any brand suits that have tighter legs?

— Terry S.

Dear Terry: Here’s the answer to your problem — which isn’t just a warm season issue (hello Florida, California, Arizona dwellers): Swim shorts. They’re also called board shorts and bike shorts. They come in various lengths and styles. Among the places you’ll find them (often on sale now because cold weather in many places is not a traditional time to buy swimwear) is Lands’ End (, $16.48 and up). Some have an attached “panty” (I hate that word) for added modesty. Obviously, you’ll need to buy an increasingly popular sold-separately swim top, which has the added plus of enabling you to mix and match styles and sizes. PS: Many of us wish we had your thin leg issue!


Dear Answer Angel Ellen: What can I do with a full-length mink coat and a jacket that I haven worn in many years? They’re both in pristine condition and I’d like them to go to a good cause. Or, possibly, sell them and donate the funds to a charity that helps those in need.

— Pate

Dear Pate: I hear this question often when temperatures start plummeting. Wearing fur is far less popular than it used to be — even if the coat, stole or jacket was made long ago. Many department store fur salons and freestanding fur shops are shuttering because of low sales, changing tastes, sensitivity to animal welfare and fashionable fuzzy fur-look fakes. My visits to consignment, vintage clothing and charity thrift shops turn up lots of animal fur garments and accessories but few buyers. Check with your local shops to see if they’ll take the furs to sell for you.

Perhaps your old furs have been in the family and have sentimental attachments? There are individuals and companies on or that will turn your fur garments into cuddly “memory bears” (for kids and grandkids?) from your old fur for $100 and up. And some animal rescue, pet shelters and animal rehabilitation centers accept donated furs for warm bedding for orphaned and ailing animals. An internet search also will turn up an increasing number of donation sites that accept warm coats, fur garments included, to aid those in need. Old fur can also be upcycled as a warm lining for cloth coats and rainwear.

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