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by Abigail Van Buren

New Wife's Wardrobe Doesn't Measure Up to Cousins' Taste

DEAR ABBY: My cousin recently married a lovely girl, someone he'd been dating for a couple of years. Our whole family loves her, and she's always been very sweet to us.

She's very intelligent and kind, but the issue is her wardrobe. She's pretty but refuses to wear nice clothes. Instead she wears baggy, boring clothes. Our family is fashion-conscious, and I know my cousin has suggested to her several times that she buy new clothing -- to no avail. He thinks she's self-conscious about her body.

Her birthday is coming up, and my sister and I would like to take her shopping as a birthday gift to buy her some nicer clothes. My cousin thinks she might not appreciate it, but he agrees that she needs new clothes. He also suggested buying her a gift card to somewhere, although that wouldn't solve the problem of which clothes she buys with it. Do you think that taking her clothes shopping for her birthday would be appropriate? -- FASHIONISTA IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR FASHIONISTA: I think it is a nice idea, as long as you do not frame it the way you have to me. A better way to make the offer might be to invite her for a lovely birthday lunch and some "retail therapy." If you then decide to peek into a couple of clothing stores, she might be willing. And if you find something appropriate and offer to treat her as a birthday gift, she might accept. Keep it light, do not pressure her, but compliment her when she tries on things that flatter her.