Dear Answer Angel: I'm a little embarrassed to ask this question. I've been using the same deodorant since I was in high school, and it has always "done the job." Now, many decades later, it isn't working. I was in a crowd the other day, and I started thinking someone near me had not taken a shower after a workout or something. And then I realized that I was the guilty party. The product I'm talking about is the "regular" red label Ban roll-on. When that changed to a green container, I stuck with the roll-on "regular" with a red label. But lately, I've been having not-so-good results. Did I change, or did the deodorant?
— Not So Fresh Anymore
Dear Not So Fresh: Your favorite Ban roll-on has changed. I asked the company and learned that it did make "relatively minor" changes in the formula. But that might not be the cause of your problem. It could be you. Ban research leader Erica Palmer says, "We are learning that as people age, they may need to switch products to compensate for physical changes in body chemistry." Palmer suggests you switch from roll-on to solid. Roll-on is gentler but "not as effective in controlling odor and wetness" as the solid, she says.
You didn't ask, but others have inquired how to remove the inevitable white deodorant streaks on your sweaters and shirts that you notice just as you're racing out the door. Easy and cheap: Rub the area with dry pantyhose (or knee-highs) or a dry Mr. Clean Eraser household cleaning pad.
Dear Angel: I have been struggling for years on my quest for a raincoat that's stylish and has a hood. All the stylish raincoats/trench coats I find lack a hood. I carry an umbrella with me on rainy days, but I would still like a hood to protect me from the humidity, not just the water. Are there any affordable waterproof, stylish raincoats/trench coats out there with a hood, or am I asking for too much?
— Mary B.
Dear Mary: In fashion (as in life), you can never ask for too much! The perfect coat — with a hood — is out there. But it will require some searching. I like to touch, feel and try on, so online shopping isn't my favorite. But it's the way to go when you're looking for something really specific, such as your perfect coat. An online search for "hooded trench coat" (or leopard rain boot or whatever esoterica is on your wish list) will turn up a ton of options. In your case, I found a high-end lemon sorbet-colored taffeta Burberry for (gulp) $1,295 (us.burberry.com) and a cute Marc New York in black jersey knit with a hidden hood, $255 at bloomingdalesdales.com). Also: Gallery makes cute, colorful coats with detachable hoods, including one in bright spring green for $118 at nordstrom.com. Happy hunting.
Dear Answer Angel: Can you settle this dispute with my wife? We were in a restaurant, and the people at the next table were having a lively discussion about a movie we were about to see. We actually had just purchased the tickets — for a ridiculous $11 apiece, I might add. I asked them in a pleasant way if they'd change the subject because we were about to see the film and wanted to be surprised. They seemed OK with that. But my wife wasn't. She was mortified and says I was out of line. I say I was just protecting my investment.
— Spoiler Alert
Dear S.A.: I'm on your side. As long as you were nice about it, you're fine. And, because your dining neighbors did stop talking about the movie, they, too, must have been OK with your request. Whether the issue is free upgrades on your cell-phone contract, honoring an expired discount coupon or a change of topic at the adjacent table, I say it never hurts to ask — politely.
Dear Answer Angel: I found the perfect jacket at a consignment store. The sleeves had been altered by the previous owner and it fit me perfectly. It's clear that whoever consigned it is exactly my size. Is it possible to find more clothes from whoever my body double is? How?
— No more tailoring bills
Dear No More: Yes! Many consignment stores — such as the national chain Second Time Around (secondtimearound.net) — have computer software that can track all the clothes in the store from that same seller. Even without a computer program, managers of consignment stores often know their sellers so well that if you ask (preferably keep tags and receipts with identifying numbers), they can locate all the clothes in their shop from that person.
Woof. Reacting to my advice to people complaining that their best friends' dogs leave them covered with hair, several e-mailers raved thusly: "Buy your friends a Furminator. Best dog comb ever.… It is amazing." (furminator.com)
Shop, drop, ask for help
Yearning for a friend (only better) to tell you what to choose, where to look, how to get good value? Relax, now you've got an angel on your shoulder. Send questions large and small to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tattered, precious clothes: Can't bear to throw out your beat-up, beloved favorites? Those jeans? A baseball cap? A shredded sweater? Tell me your stories. Even send a photo! E-mail me at email@example.com.