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Mix and match for travel wardrobe capsule

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By Jean Patteson
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Question: Can you elaborate on the concept of wardrobe capsules• I am retired and dress casually for the most part. But my husband and I travel internationally and still attend some dressy business functions.

Answer: A wardrobe capsule is a collection of basics, plus a few versatile accessories, that can be mixed or matched in a number of ways. The key is to stick with compatible fabrics and just two or three coordinating colors.

A travel capsule might include a jacket, cardigan, skirt and two pairs of pants in a favorite neutral color, and several tops in coordinating colors or prints -- all in lightweight, washable, wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Add walking shoes and evening shoes, a few scarves or pieces of jewelry, and an all-purpose handbag. Every piece should go with at least two other pieces in the capsule. For those business receptions, include a simple dress that could be teamed with the jacket or cardigan.

An informal capsule might include a skirt, jeans, capri pants and/or shorts, knit tops, a cardigan, sandals and sneakers, plus a few accessories.

Play around with the pieces. You'll be amazed how many different looks you can create.

Collar-popping tips

Q: I have a long neck and like to pop my shirt collars so I look less like a giraffe. I used to be able to buy these thin, thread-covered wires, which could be inserted into the collar to make it stand up. I can no longer find them. Are they still available• And if not, can you suggest any alternatives?

A: A popped collar is a great look on anyone. It just gives an outfit a bit more attitude -- the way pushed-up sleeves do. And if your neck is especially short, just undo an extra button to make your neck appear more swan-like.

I'm not familiar with those thread-covered wires. (Readers, have you spotted them anywhere?) But a good fabric store should have the flat plastic stays that can be slipped into a collar to provide extra stiffness. I simply apply an extra spritz of heavy-duty starch to my collars when ironing my shirts.

Lost and found

Lost: Emily is trying to track down a store where she can buy Hard Candy cosmetics.

Found : Thanks, readers, for letting Liz know she can find Skimp Skamp panties in the Hanes catalog, 800-300-2600 or ; or the Just My Size catalog, 800-261-5902 or .

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