The Sweater Can Wear Many Hats

Dear Fashion Police: Since when did a cardigan sweater become a scarf (tied over a blazer) and a sash (tied around the waist)? I can appreciate a twin set with the cardigan tied around the shoulders, which looks elegant and nonchalant at the same time. The duchess of Windsor, Jackie, Audrey, Grace and other lovely ladies may have sported this look. But a cardigan tied around a blazer does nothing for either piece of clothing and seems like sort of a reverse layered look that doesn't make sense.

When it's tied around the middle, it bulks up the waist and emphasizes the derriere, making it look bigger, too.

I've been seeing a lot of this lately. Is it just a Los Angeles fad or part of the national mall scene? I'm puzzled. Enlighten me.


Dear Sweat: You mean you've never realized the potential a sweater had beyond keeping you warm? Honestly, where have you been? Yes, it's a shoulder-enhancer and a butt-enlarger. But a sweater's usefulness doesn't stop there.

In a pinch, it can double as a camping tent! Just pull real tight when staking it to the ground. Out of cheesecloth? Use a sweater to drain your tofu! The possibilities are endless!

Back to that sweater-over-the-shoulder look--we agree that it's a stylish one. While wearing it over a blazer looks a bit odd, there's a rational explanation. Say you want to layer your clothing--blouse, sweater, blazer. But at some point you want to take the sweater off. What do you do with it? Wear it on your head? No! You could sling it over your arm, but it gets in the way. That's why some women opt for tossing it over their shoulders, then putting it back on when there's a chill.

Now that sweater-covering-the-derriere thing is a different issue. Some tie it around their waist thinking it will hide whatever is underneath. Not only does it not hide it, but it makes it look bigger and draws attention to it. Not always a desired look. Granted, it's a convenient way to schlep a sweater, but not necessarily the most flattering. And remember--don't stretch the arms too much while tying it or you'll have 9-foot sleeves.

We hope this brings you closer to fashion enlightenment, as that is our purpose.


Dear Fashion Police: I recently had acrylic nails put on. I keep them at a modest length and use light, neutral polish. However, I've started noticing that all of my fashion icons (actresses, singers, etc.) have short, natural nails. Are acrylic nails passe?


Dear Don't: Don't rip those puppies off yet. We went to the source for this one--manicurist Lisa Jachno, who's with the Cloutier agency and is a spokeswoman for OPI nail products. She's also manicurist-to-the-stars, with a client roster that includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kim Basinger and Madonna. There, aren't you impressed?

Anyway, she concurs that natural nails are in right now and are "always the best way to go." However--that doesn't mean you have to forgo the acrylics.

"Some clients do opt for acrylic nails," she said. "Some bite their nails, and some really can't grow their nails, they're very weak. Also with acrylics the polish stays on longer and you don't have to worry about broken nails, since they can be replaced easily."

Whichever you choose, nails should not extend more than a quarter of an inch past the finger. Shorter, not longer, is the trend. Polish colors du jour are sheers (pinks, beiges and whites) and brights (pinks and oranges with a bit of shimmer or glitter). Jachno added that the acrylic itself can be tinted to mimic a French manicure.

For fall, shades will be bolder: red, wine, raspberry and cinnamon--"To add drama to nails." Look for cremes instead of shimmers.

What of those bizarre blue, green and black colors we used to see? Out, said Jachno. Bye-bye. Au revoir.

FYI, OPI has new acrylic products debuting in the next couple of months. There's an odorless powder and liquid called Clarite, plus the company is extending its Microbond Gel System odorless gel acrylic line. Ask your salon if it carries these products.

One more thing--Jachno reminded us that acrylic nails need that fill every two weeks (as the nail grows, the acrylic has to be replaced). Between appointments make sure your nails are healthy. "If you keep them up," she added, "they're great."


From the Fashion Police Blotter: Don't forget--we need your stories, suggestions, reminiscences and comments on back-to-school shopping. We want to hear from parents, students, former students, adults, kids--anyone who has gone through the ritual of back-to-school shopping and has a tale to tell.

Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to

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