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Answer Angel: Underwear help for mom

Tribune News Service logoTribune News Service 11/18/2021 Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service
With any bra-related issue, the first and most important thing is an accurate measurement. © Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS With any bra-related issue, the first and most important thing is an accurate measurement.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Help! My mom is 80, size 2X and very difficult to size a bra for. She is very wide around the chest (I need to measure her) — probably around 48 inches — and her shoulders are narrow and sloped so it’s hard to keep the straps up. She has large breasts but honestly, it’s the band width, not the cup size that’s been the problem. I’ll just say it: She’s shaped like a potato. Do you have any recommendations for bras? She won’t wear a T-shirt or sports bra, and lives in an assisted living facility. I’ve told her it’s fine to go without one, but she’s insistent. I know there must be other large women out there who deal with this — any thoughts?

— Lisa B.

Dear Lisa: This is a common issue and there are not nearly enough options for women like your mom who aren’t comfortable going braless and aren’t interested in sexy, lacy, hard-to-put-on-and-take-off bras that require the skills of an attendant or a contortionist. First, and most important — as you already recognize — is an accurate measurement. Pay close attention to the size chart that accompanies any online purchase. Look for front closures and wire-free models with super wide straps for comfort and dressing ease. has a good selection including front closure models in sizes that would fit your mom and are designed with snaps or large hooks that suit elderly or arthritic hands and are made with self-dressing in mind.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I am a 75-year-old woman who is wondering what to wear to my granddaughter’s wedding next May. I know it is a ways off, but I am thinking about it. Can I wear a black dress with a colorful shawl, or thin cape or something like that? Is a black dress appropriate for a wedding? I haven’t been to a wedding in a long time and I don’t know what is appropriate anymore. — Karen B.

Dear Karen: Weddings almost always make us fret about what to wear. But try not to because the only rule is don’t overshadow the bride with a scanty or wildly inappropriate outfit. In your case, I’m sure there is no risk of that. It used to be that wearing black or white to a wedding was not OK, but those rules are passé. Today’s bride even chooses white or black dresses for the attendants. A colorful shawl, scarf or cape is a fine addition. You’ll look great. Have a glorious time!

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Since the weather has gotten colder, I’ve noticed I have several dark colored hats with sweat stains. Could you please offer suggestions for cleaning hats, shoes and boots? P.S.: I’ve enjoyed your column for several years. As a widower, I’ve relied on your column for fashion tips (e.g., color coordination) etc., taking care of clothing and the like. We men need all the help we can get. You do a great job and with a sense of humor.

— Russell J.

Dear Russell: Sweat stains on hats and water and salt stains on shoes and boots are major irritants. But don’t despair. Whatever treatment you use, please do a small spot test to make sure you’re not increasing rather than solving your problem. Follow instructions on the care label if there is one. For the hat, dip a clean white cloth in a paste of baking soda and water and a couple drops of white vinegar. (A little dish washing liquid is another option.) Scrub lightly with the cloth or a soft bristle brush; rinse with a moist cloth. If those don’t work, mix equal small quantities of hydrogen peroxide and warm water, scrub gently, rinse lightly with warm water, let dry. For shoes and boots, brush off dirt, mix equal parts white vinegar and water, apply with a clean cloth enough to dampen (not soak) the footwear. Stuff the moist shoes with newspaper and let dry (not near a heater). Then brush with a soft brush or toothbrush.

Reader Rant

Barbara S. writes: “I am a plus-sized woman and want to know why so many of the department stores have gotten rid of their plus-size departments. I heard that the average women’s size was 14, so why has this happened?” From Ellen: It’s all about income per square foot. The stores can make more from other departments and have transferred their plus (and, often, petite sizes) to online only. Such a shame!

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