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Answer Angel: Is clothing becoming more unisex?

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I bought a vintage Pendleton shawl collar maroon and navy button-up sweater on eBay. I am a big fan of Pendleton sweaters and vintage clothing in general. I have happily worn the oversize sweater and received compliments on it from male and female friends.

But when I put it on this weekend there seemed something “off” about it. My girlfriend knew at once: It is a woman’s sweater. To me it looks virtually identical (except color) to several in my collection but the buttons are on the “wrong” (left) side — the customary side for women’s clothing. Nobody ever noticed this before and I don’t intend to stop wearing it. But I’m wondering if clothing is becoming more unisex — suitable for men and women?

-- Harry N.

Dear Harry: Yes, clothing, especially casual clothes like the sweater you described, athletic shoes, sweats and more is trending in that direction and has been for a while. In a recent Answer Angel Ellen column, I wrote about men’s purses (murses) becoming more commonplace. (On that point, in a recent Vanity Fair question-and-answer interview, actor-director-producer-writer Baz Luhrmann was asked, “What is your most treasured possession” and he replied—perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, but still: “The perfect murse.”)

There are many reasons for the uptick in unisex clothes and men shopping in the women’s department and women buying “menswear” for themselves. I’ve got a couple pairs of men’s Levis in my closet plus hoodies and sweatshirts that are a boy’s size large. This gender blending/bending is, of course, not limited to fashion and style but many other areas of life too. But back to your question. Enjoy wearing the sweater. From the photo you sent it looks terrific and definitely suitable for all genders.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I often end up with strands of my long hair in the bathroom sink and on the counter when I’m styling my hair. It is a pain to try and corral all that and I wonder if you or your readers have a solution that doesn’t involve rinsing the hair down the drain (and the subsequent clogging thereof)?

--Kathryne T.

Dear Kathryne: You’re in luck. Reader Lynn C. came up with this answer: “My solution is masking tape. It takes seconds to pick it up with the tape and throw it away.” From Ellen: I prefer wide, clear packing tape, which is stickier. It is great for dog hair on furniture as well.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I have an older mattress that is still in good shape but is only eight inches thick. I am having a terrible time finding “short pocket” sheets that fit tightly and do not bunch in the middle. I saw some online but they were 100% polyester. (Ick.)


--Patrick M.

Dear Patrick: Sheets for mattresses as thin as yours definitely are not easy to find. And they are likely to be even harder in the future as mattresses are trending in the opposite direction, with “pillow tops” etc. making them as high as 18 inches. You almost need a ladder to get into bed. The jargon for your sheet size is “low profile” and most online offerings are for $$ custom sheets made to order. But wait…Wayfair ( has a wide selection of them for mattresses eight inches and under at $14.99 and up, in 100% cotton. You’d better order a couple before your bed is a unicorn and nobody makes sheets to fit it.

Angelic Readers

From Meg D.: “Your column about the popularity of white sneakers brought to mind this solution for scuffs: The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great.”

Reader Rant

On the trend to dress down at work (and virtually everywhere else), Tony S. is having none of it: “If someone came to my company in hopes of doing business with us wearing sneakers with a suit and no tie, I would view him as unprofessional, fashion unconscious and not ready for the serious world of business.”

And this note on soap gunk…

From Ellen: I am drowning in readers’ suggestions on how to beat the messy, gooey, mushy, slimy bar of soap problem that reader Barbara B. was so annoyed by. Like other small irritants—hopelessly tangled earbud wires, flashlights that stop working only when the electricity goes out—readers shared their pain about those icky bars of soap that dissolve in a gushy slush—and how to avoid it. I stopped counting the emails when I got to three digits and I’m making my way through all your good suggestions. Watch this space for readers’ finds and creative ways to cross this small problem off your list.

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