Q: In movies I saw as a youth, the men often wore ascots. I have always admired the look. I am 83 years young and would wear ascots if you...

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Q: In movies I saw as a youth, the men often wore ascots. I have always admired the look. I am 83 years young and would wear ascots if you could answer these questions: Is there an age limit for wearing an ascot? When and for what occasions is an ascot appropriate? What colors are appropriate? And is the ascot passé?

A: For those readers too young to remember the heyday of the ascot, a definition: An ascot is a necktie with short, super-wide ends worn looped over and either held in place with a tie pin or tucked inside an open-neck shirt. In England, an ascot is called a cravat — and was an indispensable part of the Duke of Windsor’s golfing ensemble.

In the book “A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up,” authors John Bridges and Bryan Curtis write: “A gentleman wears an ascot only if he is also wearing a velvet smoking jacket and a pair of embroidered slippers.”

I disagree. And judging by the number of Web sites doing a brisk trade in ascots for occasions formal and casual, I’m not alone.

Certainly, the ascot was popular in the early 20th century, especially among Hollywood’s most debonair leading men — Cary Grant, Vincent Price and Fred Astaire among them.

Today, rather than being passé, the ascot may be enjoying a mini-revival. Actor Morgan Freeman wore an ascot with an open-neck white shirt and tux to the Oscars this year. And Jeremy Piven opted for an ascot instead of a bow tie when he accepted his Emmy for best-supporting comedy actor.

Piven is 41; Freeman is almost 70. That is a broad age range. I see no reason why an 83-years-young gentleman shouldn’t adopt the look, too.

You could team an ascot with a tux. Or for a dressy-casual look, you could wear it with a button-down shirt and blazer or sport coat. Choose a light-colored ascot with a dark shirt and vice-versa.

And keep the fabrics consistent: a wool or cashmere ascot with a tweed jacket, a silk ascot with a tropical-wool blazer or silk sport coat.

Web sites offering solid-color and patterned ascots include www.countryties.com, www.beautiesltd.com and www.forzieri.com.

Q: I’ve spent a fortune on underwear to wear with my jeans, but nothing works. Either the underwear rides up at the leg, or it shows at the waist. Is it too much to ask for snug, low-rise panties that stay put?

A: There’s a new collection of underwear by Barely There that sounds custom-made for you. The Jeanious panty is made from a shiny fabric that makes shimmying into snug jeans a cinch. It doesn’t ride up because the slick fabric doesn’t snag on denim jeans. And it has a V-waist that dips in front and back, so it won’t show above the waistband of your jeans.

Available in thong, bikini and hipster styles, the Jeanious comes in eight colors and sizes S to XL. It sells for $9, or $24 for three, at department stores.

Q: I have worn acrylic nails for many years. Recently, the arthritis in my fingers has worsened. Could the acrylics be the reason?

A: There doesn’t appear to be a definitive link between acrylic nails and arthritis. But this question is best addressed to your doctor.


The reader looking for vegan cosmetics can try the Lush line, available in Lush stores or at www.lush.com.

Fashion writer Jean Patteson welcomes your questions. Mail: Orlando Sentinel, MP-240, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando, FL 32802-2833. E-mail: jpatteson@orlandosentinel.com. Phone: 407-420-5158