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FASHION POLICE

No Sweats? No Sweat--Go for Loungewear That Looks Good

February 09, 2001|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Fashion Police: I am in my mid-40s, in pretty good shape, but certainly don't have the figure of a 16-year-old. My struggle is finding something to wear around the house that is comfortable but that doesn't make my husband think I've given up caring about myself. Sweatpants and an oversized shirt are my usual attire. I see things in magazines that would look great if I worked out three hours a day. But alas, I work for a living. Any suggestions for an after-work or weekend look that's comfortable, stylish and fresh?

--ON MY WAY TO FRUMPDOM

Dear On: We gals love our sweats, don't we? Let's face it--is there anything better after a long, tough day than easing into soft, comfortable sweatpants and a T-shirt? The only problem is, our menfolk despise them.

They'd love to see us in some little Victoria's Secret number every night, but they'll probably have to wait until heck freezes over before that happens. Sorry, guys. Just being honest. So let's find a middle ground where everyone is happy.

There is great loungewear out there that's comfy enough for you and attractive enough for him. Coldwater Creek's clothing catalog is filled with soft-knit pants, sweaters and tops that are great for around the house and out and about on weekends (http://www.coldwatercreek.com, [800] 510-2808). CP Shades offers roomy pants, full skirts and loose tops in cotton and rayon that can also be worn as loungewear. The company has retail stores across the country as well as a Web site (http://www.cpshades.com, [800] SHADECP). You should also check your local department store's sleepwear area; designers such as Calvin Klein and Donna Karan (under the DKNY label) do understated, sophisticated separates that are evolved sweats, for lack of a better term.

Things to look for to maximize your comfort zone: Pants with elastic or drawstring waists, tops that aren't skin tight, and natural fiber fabrics (cotton, silk, washed linen) that are soft to the touch. Any ornamentation--such as trims or buttons--shouldn't be scratchy or irritating.

Don't make the mistake of buying pieces one or two sizes larger than your normal size. Super-sizing won't make you more comfortable; you'll just be swimming in your clothes. Your husband still wants to know there's a body under there.

Now, we have to bring up one issue: While we've received similar letters from women on this subject here at Fashion Police Central, we have never gotten a comparable letter from a man wanting to know how to get out of his cutoffs and T-shirt rut because his wife doesn't find him attractive.

Hmmmmmm. Can you say double standard? Just in case any men reading this think they might fit the above description, we suggest you take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself: "Could they be talking about me?" Yes, we are. Time to go shopping.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind: Replace that old, worn T-shirt with a polo shirt, a cotton sports shirt or soft cotton, wool or silk sweater. Instead of those cutoffs, try some pleated khaki pants or shorts, nice jeans (no holes or stains), or some chinos.

Places to look are J. Crew (via catalog, stores around the country, or online at http://www.jcrew.com, [800] 932-0043), Eddie Bauer (http://www.eddiebauer.com, [800] 625-7935) and the Territory Ahead, (http://www.territoryahead.com, [800] 686-8212).

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Fashion Police: Ten years or so ago, I was given a beautiful string of pearls. The strand is of high quality and medium length. Unfortunately, I haven't worn them in some time for fear I'll either look like an '80s escapee from "Dynasty" or an Audrey Hepburn wannabe. I am 40 and I think I stay fashionable. How and with what can I wear my pearls and still stay au courant?

--NEED PEARLS OF WISDOM

Dear Need: Pearls are a classic fashion accessory, and you should definitely pull them out of cold storage and wear them again.

Since you said the strand is of high quality and medium length, we can't imagine they would look very "Dynasty" unless the pearls themselves were excessively large and you added big hair and massive shoulder pads to the picture.

Pearls dress up an outfit, so keep in mind that in today's casual climate they'll add drama and formality to your look. But lucky for you, ladylike looks are back, so your pearls will probably be working overtime. We think they'd look great with a tailored silk blouse, a plain crew-neck sweater or twin-set, a classic little black dress, or even a jacket--providing they don't compete with details such as buttons or lapels.

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

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