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Be Patient With Dowdy Daughter


Dear Fashion Police: Over the last year or two, my daughter has adopted an impoverished attitude about her clothes and appearance. To give you a clue, she'll wear a worn undergarment as part of a layered look, she'll have a friend cut her hair and act pleased with the result.

With her 20th birthday just around the corner, my earnest desire is to provide her with the resources that would help her to develop a suitable hair and clothing style for her type and personality.

What resources and services would you recommend? I have only recently moved to Los Angeles and need help in making the appropriate selection. Please help a distraught mom.


Dear Dis: You can lead a daughter to clothes, but you can't make her wear them. Sorry for mangling that aphorism, but we're trying to make the point that your daughter has to want to change her style. If you try to push anything on her--even a barrette--she will cringe and toss the item away.

Besides, it's normal for parents to loathe what their kids wear. Every generation uses clothing as a form of rebellion and a way to establish their identity, separate from their parents but similar to their peers.

Whether she's in college or working, your daughter is on the cusp of adulthood. As she gets older and becomes serious about a career, her style will change, those worn T-shirts giving way to nicer outfits.

But don't hold your breath--this won't happen overnight. Patience is a virtue.

If your daughter is willing to make a change, then the world is your shopping mall. We recommend looking through some fashion magazines together to get a sense of the clothes and looks your daughter likes and doesn't like. Find salons in your area that cater to young women, and bring pictures you've clipped to give the hair stylist some ideas.

Avoid taking her to your stylist, or she might come out looking like a junior version of you. Not that that's a bad thing, but a different stylist will help her establish her own unique style.

And, please, don't rush the process. Wardrobes aren't built in a day.


Dear Fashion Police: I read an article that touted black as the perfect basic color. I agree, and I really envy anyone who can carry it off--probably everyone but me. I'm over 70 and look like death in black. I usually stick to beiges, whites and browns. But I'm tired of them. I was thinking that a navy outfit with navy shoes would look too matched.


Dear Color: Black is, indeed, a great basic color, but it's not the only one. And you shouldn't wear it if you think you look like Morticia. Navy is a great alternative, and there's also nothing wrong with going monochromatic and wearing it from head to toe.

But it sounds to us like you're in a bit of a color rut. Wearing one or even a few colors exclusively can be quite the fashion downer. Would you like eating the same meal for days or even weeks on end? Of course not. Even caviar and champagne would get old after a while. OK, a long while.

We recommend starting with a basic palette--navy, plus some of your earth-tone neutrals such as beige, taupe and white. Think of them as your steak and mashed potatoes, since we're on this food analogy. Now what you need are some delicious side dishes: roasted red peppers, pineapple salsa, grilled eggplant, guacamole, vegetable curry.

Translated to clothing, we're talking about a deep red cardigan, a yellow silk shell, a purple chiffon scarf, a muted green pullover and an ochre leather belt. You need to liven things up a bit. By adding different hues with accessories like scarves, shoes, jewelry and belts, and pieces such as blouses and sweaters, color shouldn't overwhelm or intimidate you.

Find shades you like and look good in, and incorporate them into your wardrobe. Navy and beige go with just about anything, so you won't be limited. And you won't ever think your clothes are boring again.

Now pardon us while we go get something to eat. For some reason we've suddenly become very hungry.


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