DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in an apartment in Manhattan in New York City. One of my stepdaughters lives in a suburb, but she sleeps over whenever she goes out with her friends and misses the train back home. She rarely comes prepared to stay the night. I leave for work before she wakes up, but I suspect she has been stealing my clothing. I don't want her to think I'm an evil stepmother, but I want to know who has been helping herself to my wardrobe. I wouldn't worry about an occasional shirt, but I have found I am missing pants, socks -- even underwear! How can I confront my stepdaughter? -- Sticky Fingers, New York City
DEAR STICKY FINGERS: Why not adopt a more positive attitude? Instead of believing that your stepdaughter "stole" your wardrobe items, consider that she "borrowed" them without asking. In this way, it is easier and pretty simple to ask for them back. Tell her that you have noticed that after her visits, a few of your wardrobe items have gone missing. You can be jovial as you ask her about them. For example, you can ask if she likes your style. Or you can be more sober and point out that you realize that often when she visits, she has been unprepared and you are glad you had some items she could borrow, but you need them back now. You could also make a general statement to her about being happy to help her have a place to lay her head on her late nights in the city, but you aren't thrilled about your wardrobe depletion. Ask her to bring back your clothing, accessories and underwear, and invite her to use a corner of an available closet to house some of her things for future moments when she spends the night.