Question: I have finally managed to find the perfect evening dress--and that's no easy task when you're a size 2--but now I need the right shoes. Please recommend a style that will look good with an ankle-length black dress. The bodice is studded with rhinestones. I wear a size 3 medium shoe. --B.K.
Answer: The rhinestone-studded sandals illustrated here are ideal for your rhinestone-studded dress, and they are available in your size at Nordstrom. They're called Decollete by Amano, and they are priced at $92.95. Sizes range from 6 to 11 in AAA widths, sizes 5 to 11 in AA and sizes 3 to 11 medium. If you feel this is too much glitter afoot, wear a black satin pump.
Q: Is there a local company that sells leather skins directly to consumers? I want to make a suede and leather scarf. --B.B.
A: Cinema Leather Inc., 448 S. Hill St., sells directly to the public. If you know the color you want, the company will send you a snip to see if it's the right shade, and you can order by mail. Lambskins are about six square feet per skin. They are priced at $1.85 per square foot. Cow sides are about 18-25 square feet per side and are priced at $1.55 per square foot. Cabretta leathers, about eight to 10 square feet per skin, are $1.70 per square foot. There is no charge for a snip or two if, for example, you know you want a medium blue. But if you want to see the entire range of colors and leathers, send $10 for 65 swatches.
Q: For once I am starting early on my Halloween costume--an Old West saloon girl's outfit. Period boots are currently available, and I have a skirt pattern, but I expect serious problems finding a corset. I want one in a black-and-white, vertically striped taffeta or heavy satin, and I expect to have to make it myself. I am hoping to avoid having to cut up an existing corset to get a pattern and am writing to you in hope of finding a real pattern instead. Do commercially available corset patterns exist? Where? --U.A.
A: Saundra Altman of Past Patterns, 2017 Eastern, S.E., Grand Rapids, Mich. 49507, has a $5 corset pattern. She also sells the antique center-front clasp for $8 ("hooks and eyes won't do the job," Altman says, "because they pull apart") and white metal stays for $7.95. If you order the boning (stays), it is important to indicate your waist size because--as Altman explains--the waist size determines how many bones (stays) are required. For example, a 25 1/2-inch waist requires 32 bones. If all this is beginning to sound too complicated, you might want to consider buying Altman's corset kit for $35. It includes pattern, fabric, hardware, ribbon and lace. (The fabric is a white cotton coutil, a sturdy, ticking-like fabric used for corsets at the turn of the century.) Or, if you send Altman the black-and-white striped taffeta fabric, she will make you a corset for $125.
Q: Can the bridegroom wear an ascot to a formal wedding? --J.A.
A: Only if it is an afternoon ceremony.