Dear Fashion Police: I've finally gotten the nerve to respond to a personals ad! I'm ready to meet date No. 1 at a nice restaurant. I'm in my 40s and a little overweight, and I look best in a skirt or dress. Should I wear a suit and pumps? A long skirt and lacy sweater? A short skirt, blouse and blazer? A denim dress?
--SLEEPLESS IN SANTA MONICA
Dear Sleepless: OK, OK, relax, you're making our head spin with all those outfit combinations. Rule No. 1 in First Date Dressing: Don't try too hard. The heels shouldn't be too high, the cleavage shouldn't runneth over, and don't trowel on the makeup. If you don't possess the perfect figure (and girlfriend, who does?) play up your best assets. If you've got great legs, show them off in a short skirt (not too short). If your waist is trim, wear something cinched. Forget the suit--it's too tailored for a date. Go with something a little softer, like a sweater (not too bulky) or silk blouse. An all-black outfit will look funereal, so wear some color. And please let us know whether you found Mr. Right.
Dear Fashion Police: I recently received a gorgeous black leather jacket as a birthday present. What goes best with it? What must I avoid wearing under it? What color and kind of ties should I wear with it? And how about wearing it to the office?
--I'M A GUY
Dear Guy: You don't say whether it's a bomber or a tailored jacket, so we'll give you suggestions for both. Bomber jackets are more casual, so avoid the tie thing altogether; it's a little too much. A tailored shirt without a tie is fine, as is a polo shirt, a plain, clean T-shirt (no logos, please), a Henley, or a crew or V-neck sweater. With a tailored jacket, a shirt and tie are fine, but don't go IBM conservative. Try vibrant colors, such as cobalt or apple green. The jacket is probably OK for the office, unless you work at the Pentagon or something. What not to wear under it? A bare chest adorned with gold chains.
Give 'em the Boot: We didn't realize there were so many militant cowboy boot wearers out there until we received several hostile reactions to our letter last week in which we counseled a male reader against wearing boots (especially with suits), lest his peers view him as a "Hee Haw!" aficionado. We were told that western boots "are and remain one of the ultimate fashion statements" (on which planet?) and that "there is nothing sexier than a man in a suit or even a tux and a great pair of boots" (the thought makes us queasy). Wear them, if you want, with a suit or tux, but remember, cowboy boots are not just an accessory--they're an accessory to a fashion crime.
From the Fashion Police Blotter: Congratulations to all you Lilith Fair gals who were nominated for or won Grammys last week. But ladies--did you lose your razors? Because we saw a lot of underarm hair going on, which, frankly, was pretty disgusting. If you don't want to shave, that's OK; just wear long sleeves. Or move to France.
* When reporting or preventing a fashion crime, write to Fashion Police, Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or fax to (213) 237-4888. Submissions cannot be returned. No telephone inquiries, please.