Closing the gap between style

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Why can’t I find fashions that fit and flatter my “curvy” (well, some would say overweight or fat) figure? I am so tired of looking and not finding. Not finding online. Not finding in stores. I’m a professional woman who needs and wants to dress in appropriate workwear and day to evening clothes. I have money to spend. Why don’t retailers and clothing designers understand this? Can you help?

Dear Betsy: I hear you! This is one of the most frequent cries for help I find in my email. The average American woman is not a size 6. She’s closer to a 16. She is not inclined to wear low cut, too short, too tight dresses to work. She has plenty of other things to do besides a job, caring for others and, in her “spare” time, shopping for clothes that suit her needs and dimensions. Is anybody out there listening?

The answer is yes, kind of. Retailers and designers, especially online, are getting the message. What’s taken so long? Even “Project Runway” (thank you, Tim Gunn!) is now featuring models in a huge range of figure types. (And the competing designers on the show dressed them in an array of styles, some inventive and flattering, others — horrors — in what looked like poorly constructed muumuus.)

To get you started, check out The folks who run the site don’t require that you hit the plus size tab when scrolling through their fashionable and affordable offerings. They get it. The site offers the same dress in sizes XXS through 4X, or sizes 0 to 36. For them, it’s good business. No more disappointment when you click on a style you love and see that it doesn’t come in your size. lets you customize its clothing (sleeves, length, neckline) in sizes 0 to 36W. For curvy women who still like the hands on shopping experience, Lord Taylor is a popular stop.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: This question might not be your area of expertise, but I have just about given up on finding a crate that my dog can’t break out of. Do you have any ideas for me?

Dear Nicole: It turns out I am an expert on this very thing, thanks to a Houdini like beagle who has chewed his way not only out of those plastic crates from PetSmart but also metal ones with bars that this wily animal figured out how to chew, bend and squeeze his way through.

What you want is the Alcatraz of dog crates. It’s the ProSelect Empire Dog Cage. It is expensive (344.61,, hard to transport, so heavy it needs wheels to move it around and not foolproof. The beagle in question quickly figured out how to use his nose to nudge open the sliding locks, so we had to resort to using three giant carabiners to keep it locked securely. Since then: No problem.