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by Abigail Van Buren

Current Fashions Offer Women Little That's Decent to Wear

DEAR ABBY: I am writing about the letter from "Can't Believe My Eyes" (June 20), who is bothered by the amount of cleavage women display everywhere. I have heard many negative comments in the workplace regarding women's tasteless attire. But most of the remarks I hear come from other women in stores while we try to shop for clothes. They are shocked at how little there is to buy that is "decent" to wear. They, as well as I, are tired of having to buy tank tops to wear under shirts or dresses that are cut too low or are too short.

I have three daughters who dress for professional jobs. They, too, express similar frustration at finding clothing that is appropriate to wear. I am sure some women like plunging, skin-tight clothing, but from what I hear the majority do not. Store clerks get complaints and have passed them on to the buyers. But the buyers say there is not much else available. -- FRUSTRATED SHOPPER IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I empathize with your frustration. The feedback from readers on this subject has been abundant, and many agree with you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As the mother of a well-endowed 13-year-old daughter, I agree with "Can't Believe My Eyes." I hate shopping for clothes with my daughter. It's not because she is difficult, but because the styles are so revealing. My daughter wants to dress trendy while I want her to stay covered up.

I have the same problem when I shop for myself. We use tank tops and hidden safety pins to keep "the girls" under wraps. The problem is not lack of modesty of the wearer, but the clothing designers and manufacturers. I can't wait until the styles change, but for now we are doing our best to cover up. -- OKLAHOMA READER

DEAR ABBY: Hooray for "Can't Believe's" comments on cleavage at businesses and schools, but I'm more disturbed by the number of women -- young and not so young -- who show way too much in church. I'm a guy who appreciates God's handiwork, but please, ladies, don't showcase it in the pews. -- DISTRACTED IN ROME, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: In your answer you stated there was also a lot showing "south of the border." In Mexico? What about Louisiana? I'd like to go there! -- BRUCE IN HAWAII

DEAR BRUCE: Oh, come on! I didn't mean that kind of geography.

DEAR ABBY: Why do people feel the need to dictate the standards of appearance for everyone else? If it doesn't harm you, it's none of your business. If you don't like the employees where you shop, go somewhere else.

I'm a 54-year-old guy who looks and dresses conservatively. My dentist has spiky hair with purple streaks and looks young enough to be in high school. My mechanic has a hole in his earlobe you could shove a quarter through. My electrician has tattoos on his face. But they all do great work, and I wouldn't trade 'em. Why force everyone into one narrow description of what's "acceptable"? I'm for ability over appearance. -- OPEN-MINDED IN PHOENIX

DEAR ABBY: I've been in banking for 30 years and have seen many changes, especially after casual dress days started. Many younger women in the office didn't understand what that meant. Memos went out, but nothing changed until a female division manager was brought in to address the problem. I'll never forget what she said: "Look at yourself in the mirror before you leave for work and ask yourself if you look like you're going to 'get lucky.' If the answer is yes, then you need to change your clothes." Abby, we never had a dress code problem again. -- RHONDA IN THE SOUTHWEST

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)