Something's Fishy With This Swimsuit

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

DEAR HOT: I've sweated, I've aerobicized and I've Lifecycled until I'm almost dead, but at least now I have a killer bod. So what happens? I go to the mall, all prepared to buy a bathing suit--maybe even a bikini--and I find nothing but really plain styles. Don't I deserve better?

--LOOKS: 10, SUIT: 0

DEAR LOOKS: Don't fret, we've found a great suit at a Westside Pavilion shop called Everything But Water (clever name, don't you agree?). What makes this suit so fresh is that it combines opaque fabric with fishnet in just the right places. Best of all, it has huge metallic fish charms. In bikini and maillot styles by Karla Colletto, it ranges in price from $78 to $92 and comes in black with gold fish or white with silver fish. Wear this on the beach and we can almost guarantee a shark attack.

DEAR HOT: I bought two pairs of very cheap but very terrific-looking flats. Exact same style, exact same price. One pair squeaks, the other doesn't. What's the deal?

--FOOTLOOSE

MS. KRIER SUGGESTS: As one who has, on more than one occasion, succumbed to a glorious knockoff of a pricey designer classic, I can sympathize--and I've had shoes squeak, too. Shoemakers say shoes squeak because of faulty inner construction, probably a broken shank. That would explain why one pair squeaks while a seemingly identical pair doesn't.

If poor construction is to blame, you can return the shoes and probably get your money back. If you love the shoes, as I did, and there are no more in stock, you can try buying foam inner soles. They shut my shoes up fast.

MS. STEIN BEGS TO DIFFER: If the shoe squeaks, don't wear it. Don't buy it. Don't even think about de-squeaking it. There is nothing I hate more than cheap shoes. I've never had a pair of quality shoes that squeaked, so I'm afraid I can't be of much help here.

DEAR HOT: I am a man and am red/green color blind. This seems to be endlessly amusing to others--they constantly tease me and make me guess what color something is. I've learned to deal with this (believing there's a special, totally gray place in hell for these people makes it easier), but shopping really is a chore. Would a personal shopper help?

--COLOR ME CONFUSED

DEAR COLOR: You can invest in a personal shopper if you want, but we suggest trying some cheaper alternatives first.

When you want to add, say, a shirt to your wardrobe, take some of your pants shopping with you, find an attractively dressed sales clerk who doesn't look too busy, explain that you are color blind, and ask him or her to help.

To assess your wardrobe and determine which items go with which, call on the services of a friend (with good taste, color sense and absolutely no interest in practical jokes) to help you coordinate. Then, make lists of what pieces go together. You can come up with your own coding system--putting little numbers inside your clothes, for instance. If the thought of doing that drives you straight up the closet wall, as it would us, you can always dress like those hip people who hang out in coffee houses all day, don't have jobs and wear nothing but black.

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