Should Knee-High Leather Get the Boot?

Dear Fashion Police: When should we stop wearing those stylish knee-high boots that were so popular last winter? Is there an unwritten rule, such as not after Memorial Day? We're asking this because one of our co-workers showed up at the office recently wearing black knee-high leather boots with high heels with a black knee-length skirt. Also, do you think such boots are appropriate for work on regular days? On casual Fridays? We work at a financial institution, so we thought we were supposed to dress "conservatively."

--LIVES BY THE RULES

Dear Lives: The main rule we know of regarding knee-high boots is the rule of Common Sense. If you love having your lower legs encased in leather or leather-like material while it's hot enough outside to make a nice sunny-side-up egg, hash browns and toast on the sidewalk, knock yourself out. It's at this point in the year we like to retire items such as boots, heavy sweaters and warm hats to the closet and drawers, protected from moths and moisture, and let them have a nice, long nap till fall. But there are those who find it difficult to give up certain favorite items of clothing despite the fact that wearing them not only increases their chances of heat stroke, but also causes other people to make that gesture when their forefingers go in little circles around their temples.

As for your question about boots being appropriate for your workplace, that's something that only the management of your company can decide. If she's flagrantly defying the dress code and in doing so is creating distractions and tarnishing the image of the company, then it's up to her boss(es) to rein her in. Until then, no cat fights or dirty looks in the hallways, OK?

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Dear Fashion Police: Please discuss the practice of wearing baseball caps by men of all ages. I've seen men in nice restaurants wearing ball caps, men at wedding receptions wearing ball caps, and generally trying to cover their thinning hair everywhere they go. When I asked one man why he wore a cap indoors, he said his hair got messed up when he took the cap off. We women have discovered this new invention called a "comb." Should we let them in on the secret?

--CAPPED OFF

Dear Capped: This is not the first time we've tackled the baseball cap question, and we're certain your letter complaining about them won't be the last. Baseball caps are in no danger of extinction in this country, since, as you point out, one sees them everywhere, worn backward, forward, sideways, whatever. We'd also like to add that men are not the only culprits--women have adopted the cap, although they don't wear it with quite the frequency men do. We're not even sure if the majority of male cap-wearers are trying to cover up a balding pate--we think they just like wearing them.

However, as you point out, they are not appropriate for every situation, and that bears repeating, especially now that summer is upon us. Restaurants, weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, christenings, White House dinners--take the cap off and yes, comb if you have to (in the bathroom please, not in public). Those who observe this small but significant point of etiquette will be seen by others as a shining role model for others. Now, don't you want that to be you?

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FROM THE FASHION POLICE BLOTTER: We found more of those bra-shoulder pad combos that "Needs a Boost" asked us for a couple of weeks ago. They're at Bloomingdale's Web site, www.bloomingdales.com or call (800) 472-0788. The store carries the Parisa seamless bra with built-in shoulder pads for $27 and the Forget-Me-Not lace shoulder padded bra for $16.99.

Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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