Q: I know it's now fashionable to wear shoes that match your dress or suit. If I could have my shoes covered, how much fabric should I ask for? Where would I take the shoes? How much would they charge?--A.G. A: I took your question to George Malkemus of the Manolo Blahnik shoe salon in New York. Blahnik created shoes to match the clothes previewed by many of America's most famous ready-to-wear designers during their fall openings. The list includes Bill Blass, Calvin Klein and Jeffrey Banks. Malkemus says that if the designer will sell you half a yard of the fabric, the Blahnik salon will custom-make any Blahnik shoe design of your choice in that fabric. "We do this for a lot of people," Malkemus reports. "We will custom-make shoes in any fabric as long as the material is strong enough. We did some tissue-thin chiffon shoes for Blass, but we would not recommend that fabric for anything but a show. We also covered some shoes in lace, but the lace broke. Obviously, the choice of fabric is crucial." The tapestry shoes illustrated here were made by Blahnik to match Jeffrey Banks pants. If you provide the fabric, Malkemus says, there is no additional charge beyond the price of the shoes, which sell from $240 to $325. For further information, write to Manolo Blahnik, 15 West 55th St., New York, N.Y. 10019, telephone (212) 582-3007. If you sew your own clothes, perhaps you can work out a deal with your local shoemaker.
Q: What is the best way to store pearls and other beads? --M.S. A: The people at Jewelers of America Inc. say that pearls should be placed in a chamois bag or wrapped in tissue when not in use. Protect pearls and other necklaces by putting them on after applying cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume; these items have a deleterious effect on the jewels. Jewelry experts also advise having pearls strung with knots between the pearls; that prevents loss of pearls if the string breaks. Take your pearls back to your jeweler for restringing once a year, because ordinary wear weakens the threads.
Q: My husband injured his thumb, and he can no longer button the top button of his dress shirts. In addition, he can no longer wear a tie. It is almost impossible for me to button his shirt. He has one shirt made of a stretchy fabric that gives enough so that I can help button it. Can you recommend something similar?--L.B.D. A: Shirting fabrics that stretch are no longer on the market. But tell your husband to write to a firm called Geri-Wear, P.O. Box 780, South Bend, Ind., 46624 and ask for a catalogue. The company specializes in clothes for the handicapped. They make a dress shirt of cotton and polyester with a standard convertible collar and button front. Its secret is a zipper in back. The shirt is available in sizes S-M (34 to 38) and M-L (40 to 44) for $35 plus $3 for postage and handling. Leaving the top button open on a dress shirt is actually in fashion now, as is a loosely knotted tie, rather than one that is snugged to the neck.