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Fashion Police

Plea From a Purse-Attack Survivor

October 13, 2000|JEANNINE STEIN

Dear Fashion Police: I have been smacked, whacked and attacked by huge purses. They are out of control! What's a person to do, short of striking back or living in a cave?

--BLACK AND BLUE

Dear B and B: The Attack of the Killer Purses is indeed a problem in our culture today, but maybe we shouldn't blame the purse carriers. Maybe we should take a look at society instead.

Despite our advanced civilization, we live like nomads. We haul our belongings around as if we're hundreds of miles from the nearest oasis, not five minutes from the nearest 7--Eleven.

Look at what women carry just to get through the day: a wallet, checkbook, keys, makeup, tissue, hairbrush, glasses and aspirin. And those are just the basics. Some of us also haul a cell phone, appointment book, Palm Pilot, hand lotion, address book, water, Mace, snacks, a laptop and, where applicable, baby essentials that don't fit in the diaper bag.

The handbag we usually carry isn't enormous, but it's crammed, and it's heavy. On occasion when we've had to scale down we've had to make tough decisions: checkbook or credit cards? Lipstick or compact? If we were only the queen of England then we could carry a hankie and be done with it.

We suppose we should follow some of those less-is-more philosophies and pare down to the bare necessities, but there is this nagging feeling that the day we did that would be the day we needed that stapler.

So what are big purse gals to do? If you're not willing to give up your carry-on, please be aware of the damage that thing can cause. One quick turn and your purse could clock somebody or smash some lovely Baccarat crystal, which could set you back a few thou.

If you're on the receiving end of a purse slam and you're still conscious, say something. Keep it calm, but be firm, along the lines of: "Your handbag just knocked me over into the grapefruit display! Would you please be more careful?"

If you see one coming toward you, we advise you to step out of the way and leave a wide berth. You'll probably live longer.

*

Dear Fashion Police: I see where suede is back on the rack. I'm seeing a lot of shirts with collars and cuffed sleeves. I am the proud owner of numerous Ultrasuede suits--all collarless--which I would love to wear, and they work well for business travel. The colors are cinnamon, cranberry, green and royal blue, nothing in the duller, more muted shades I see today. Will they look dated? If so, is there anything you might suggest that would give these jackets a more up-to-date look? Or shall I keep them relegated to the closet for another few years?

--PERSUEDE ME

Dear Persuede: Leather and suede are all over the place for fall, and they're in many variations, from the tailored shirt styles you mentioned to A-line skirts, slim hip-hugger pants and car coats, in earth tones as well as brights. And yes, there is still Ultrasuede.

However, your suits will look dated if you wear them as is with mainstream accouterments: pumps, nude pantyhose and a plain blouse.

Break the suits up and update them with modern pieces. Wear the skirts with tall boots and a soft, plush turtleneck or lacy blouse. The jackets can be paired with jeans or black stretch pants and a T-shirt for a casual look. If you feel like adding more, try an oblong scarf around your neck.

For something more business-y, try the skirts with a boxy, hip-length jacket. Pair the jackets with a coordinating A-line, knee-length skirt (whatever hem length looks best on you) or pants, and a soft, feminine blouse (maybe a ruffle or two) in crepe or charmeuse. Keep the accessories minimal and pretty, with pearls or small gold necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

* Write to Fashion Police, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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