Readers send us questions each week -- but that doesn't mean we at Sunday Source don't have questions of our own. Here, three of the section's staffers share their queries about chic.
QWhich Desperate Housewife do
you think has the best style?
Debra Leithauser, editor
A Lynette. Sure, Susan's hip, Bree's preppy, Gabrielle's glam and Edie's . . . well, Edie. But Felicity Huffman's character is the one who dresses like a real, live person. In the midst of the hyper-stylized melee enveloping the rest of the cast, her almost-total lack of style is irresistible.
When Lynette picks up her kids, she might wear a cotton tank and a loose shirt, her hair skinned back into an untidy bun -- you know, like someone who's picking up her kids. And when she does get dressed up, it's in a clean-lined cocktail dress that's fashionable without calling undue attention to itself. Sounds simple, right? Well, sometimes simple is the toughest look of all . . . particularly, it seems, for the women of Wisteria Lane.
Q How do you keep purses in good shape?
Y.B. Thompson, editorial aide
A Ideally, start caring for your purses as soon as you buy them. Bags are like shoes -- when it comes to wear and tear, there's a definite point of no return. Structured satchels should be stuffed with tissue paper to help them retain their shape. As for soft, scrunchy carryalls? "Don't pile them together," says Jackie Flanagan, owner of U Street boutique Nana. "They'll start to look flat and crushed."
If your purse came with a cotton storage bag, use it. It'll keep dust and potentially scratchy items in your closet, such as hangers, at bay. Leather purses tend to acquire an attractive patina with age, whereas canvas ones just get dirty: When yours does, spot-cleaning with a sponge and a mild soap such as Woolite should do the trick.
Q What's the deal with men's collars? You've got straight collars, spread collars, button-downs. Give me the lowdown! Betsy Gonzalez, art director
A Button-down shirts are classic, if conservative. Traditionally, they were worn to play polo and tennis (the buttons helped keep collars out of players' faces), but these days, they go everywhere. You'll blend right in at most D.C. offices -- which can be a good or bad thing, depending on where, exactly, your sartorial spirit resides.
If you want something a little more versatile, a straight collar will work at work and beyond. Simon Kneen, creative director for Brooks Brothers, notes that longer points on straight collars are stylish now, though anything exaggerated can veer into "Saturday Night Fever" territory all too quickly.
An English spread collar is more formal: It's meant to accommodate a tie and is often found on French-cuffed shirts. A man who doesn't already own a spread-collar shirt might consider investing in one to wear with his spiffiest suit.
And please: Just say no to band collars. The only place they look appropriate is in the Salvation Army donation bag -- right next to that bolo tie.
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