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Answer Angel: How best to wear small jackets?

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: For a few years now, I’ve noticed that many women’s jackets -- blazers, denim, sweaters, etc. -- are open and look too small to button or zip up. Is this a thing now?

Sometimes it looks nice and allows a nice view of the top underneath. Other times it looks outrageously small and tight. How to do this style? I have a few old blazers especially that are too small now but maybe could pull off this open look.

--Deb L.

Dear Deb: Frugal women have been on to this for a while and I’m one of them.

You’ve nicely explained the “don’t” part of pulling off a re-use of a too-small-to-button (or zip) jacket/sweater/blazer. If a hard look in the mirror (front, side, back) tells you it is, as you put it, “outrageously small and tight,” don’t wear it. Donate, re-sell it or offer it to a smaller friend. And if you think you’re going to lose weight and it will fit fine again, just remember that many closets are packed with clothes collecting dust as they await a significant regime of diet and exercise.

As for those blazers you asked about, an attention-getting top beneath the garment in question or even a noteworthy necklace will draw attention away from the jacket you can’t button. This look works best with clothes that aren’t tailored or structured, without nipped waists or lots of seaming.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am an active woman, certainly not “model thin” but quite content with the shape and condition of my body. In other words, I don’t have issues about my figure. But, like most healthy women, I have bumps and bulges when wearing a close-to-the-body dress for various occasions, from dining out to weddings to very formal occasions. I’m looking for an all-in-one solution: dresses with built-in shapewear. Suggestions, please.

-- Theresa N.

Dear Theresa: A decade ago, it looked like dresses with built-in shapewear were poised to take off. But, then they didn’t. It seems that women were not that interested in the one-and-done solution for dresses and were more inclined to buy their shapewear separately (Spanx, Skims, Honeylove, etc.). Meanwhile, swimsuits with built-in “smoothing,” “shaper,” “body contour” features are easy to find. Dresses not so much.


That said, a few online stores continue to sell a selection of the dresses with built-in smoothing features: and have them, all priced under $100. Many, but not all, of the dresses that currently have this built-in solution are pretty slinky and tight and not for everyone. But, there also are some (not a lot) of more forgiving styles too.

Meanwhile swimsuits with built-in body-contouring features are easy to find: L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, department stores and many other retailers have them and a huge array of familiar swimsuit brands are available at discounters like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and many more.

Angelic Readers

Lots of good advice from readers on how to chose absorbent towels and what to do to keep them that way:

Don’t use fabric softener! Loretta M. writes, “It leaves a film which tends to prevent water absorption.” Maggie W. says that dryer sheets have the same effect, adding that “high-end, plush towels look great and feel soft but they just don’t absorb like ordinary towels.” Sandra M. recommends Better Homes & Gardens towels that she buys at Walmart, which absorb well and remain “nice and thick” for years of use.

Brian B., who sold linens in department stores, says, “Do not buy ‘velour’ type towels, which look elegant and feel luxurious to the touch” because the effect comes from “shearing the loops of the terry cloth material, which are the key to absorbing water.” He also says be sure the tag says “100% cotton”—no synthetic fiber (although he notes that he hasn’t tested towels made of bamboo fibers, now widely available).

Aileen C. writes: "A linen shop employee in Dallas explained to me that towels are shipped from factories to the U.S. (and elsewhere) in container ships so they are sprayed to keep them from becoming infested with bugs or damaged by vermin. Her recommendation was to first wash them in your machine on a regular cycle with one cup of white vinegar in hot water. She told me that the towels will be fluffier and more absorbent if this is done when new, before the first time you wash them with soap. I have been doing that ever since and have found it to be true.”

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